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A Tribute to Marilyn Monroe on her Birth Anniversary


June 1, 2023 marks the 97th birth anniversary of the legendary Marilyn Monroe. Often referred to as the “blonde bombshell”, Marilyn is one of the most famous sex symbols. She started her career as a model and eventually grew to become a triple threat with her skills in acting, singing, and dancing. However, despite her fame and popularity, Marilyn Monroe remained elusive as ever. In honour of the iconic Hollywood star, here are some lesser known facts that offer insight into her intricate and seemingly glamorous life.

Wall art featuring Marilyn Monroe in Istanbul, Turkey (Shutterstock)
Wall art featuring Marilyn Monroe in Istanbul, Turkey (Shutterstock)

Marilyn Monroe’s names are a reference to Show Business

Marilyn Monroe’s mother originally named her Norma Jean Baker after the actress Norma Talmadge. Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, worked in a film lab as a film cutter and could have possibly named her child after the dazzling silent era star in hopes that her daughter would lead a similar life. Originally, Marilyn had chosen the stage name “Jean Adair” based on her real name but later changed it. Ben Lyon, Fox Studios Head Talent executive at the time, recommended “Marilyn” as he felt that the starlet resembled the Broadway star, Marilyn Miller. Marilyn picked “Monroe” because it was her mother’s maiden name. Furthermore, she believed that she might have been related to President James Monroe but no evidence has been found to confirm her speculation. And thus, formed the household name, Marilyn Monroe. Norma Jean Baker legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in 1956.

Marilyn Monroe's White Dress(wikimedia)
Marilyn Monroe’s White Dress(wikimedia)

Marilyn Monroe Never Posed Nude for Playboy

In December 1953, the first issue of the iconic Playboy Magazine was published with Marilyn Monroe as its cover girl. However, unbeknownst to the star, the magazine also featured nude pictures of her inside. The photos were taken four years before the publication by a young photographer, Tom Kelley. They were released in a 1951 calendar. According to the Chicago Tribune, when an interviewer questioned her reasons for posing nude, her clever reply was “I was hungry”. Marilyn was in between jobs in 1949 when Kelley offered her $50 for her pictures. The pictures were later bought by Hugh Hefner who said they put Playboy on the map.

Playboy 1953 Cover(marilynmonroe)
Playboy 1953 Cover(marilynmonroe)

Marilyn Monroe disguised herself as ‘Zelda Zonk’

Marilyn had adopted an alias to avoid paparazzi. According to Marilyn, Zelda Zonk’s black wig, sunglasses, and scarf transformed her into a “normal person”. She was successfully able to slip under the radar of the public through this disguise. The name was used by her for travelling and to book medical appointments. She used this alter ego to anonymity after her break-up with Joe DiMaggio who was her husband at the time.

Marilyn Monroe as Zelda Zonk(Pinterest)
Marilyn Monroe as Zelda Zonk(Pinterest)

Marilyn Monroe had a brief religious upbringing

After her mother put her through foster care, Marilyn Monroe was placed under the care of Albert Wayne and Ida Bolender. The austere couple were devout Christians and raised Marilyn accordingly. Their interactions were aloof and lacked the warmth and comfort needed by the child. The family’s life revolved around the church they went to. There was no occasions of worldly entertainment. In fact, Ida believed that going to movies was a sinful act that would be punished accordingly after death. “We are churchgoers, not moviegoers”, she declared. Instead, the foster parents’ strict code of conduct emphasised morality, piety, and other religious sentiments. Marilyn recalled that she was instructed to pray every night to not end up in hell.

Marilyn Monroe with her Foster Family(Pinterest)
Marilyn Monroe with her Foster Family(Pinterest)

Marilyn Monroe kept a secret diary that was later published

In October 2010, Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters was published. The book was a collection of writings from Marilyn Monroe’s diary offering a glimpse into the icon’s mind and personal life. Marilyn documented original poems, notes to herself, journal entries, letters and other intimate thoughts. They exposed the blonde bombshell as an introspective, analytical, and poetic intellectual. She was a complex and sensitive individual as can be deduced from her careful attempts to phrase her moods and emotions. Snippets from the diary also illustrate the significance of journaling to Marilyn. Writing in this diary was a cathartic experience because it was a space where she could be true to herself.

Extract from Marilyn Monroe's Diary(bbci)
Extract from Marilyn Monroe’s Diary(bbci)


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