1926–62, American movie actress, b. Los Angeles as Norma Jean Baker or Norma Jeane Mortenson. Raised in orphanages after 1935 and first married at 14, Monroe, who began her career as a pin-up model, became a world-famous sex symbol and, after her death, a Hollywood legend. She was noted for her distinctively breathy singing style and seductive film roles, and she was also a superb light comedienne. At first patronized by critics, she studied acting and won more challenging roles. Her death from a barbituate overdose at age 36, a possible suicide, only increased her mystique. Her films include Niagara
(1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
(1953), The Seven-Year Itch
(1955), Bus Stop
(1956), Some Like It Hot
(1959), and The Misfits
(1960). Monroe's second husband was Joe DiMaggio
; her third, Arthur Miller
See the controversial study by Norman Mailer (1973) and the play After the Fall (1963) by Arthur Miller; S. Buchthal and B. Comment. ed., Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters (2010) and L. Banner, ed., MM—Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe (2011); biographies by F. L. Guiles (1969), G. McCann (1988), M. Zolotow (rev. ed. 1990), C. E. Rollyson (1993), D. Spoto (1993), B. Leaming (1998), and L. Banner (2012); J. Meyers, The Genius and the Goddess: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe (2010); study by S. Churchwell (2005).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Film and Television: Biographies