Who is Marilyn Monroe and is she the biggest sex symbol of the twentieth century? Most people remember her as a beautiful woman, who starred in a variety of movies and who had many memorable photos. What they might not know is how she acquired this or how she became as well known as she did. People also do not realize that during her life she became one of the biggest entrepreneurs of her time. She had many difficult times, like anybody endures in life, but she was almost always able to overcome them and triumph in the end. She was very beautiful as a teenager and a lot of different men took an interest in her. This contributed to the reason the Marilyn Monroe was married at such a young age. Her first marriage was to a man named Jim Dougherty, when she was only at the tender age of sixteen. She met Jim through her Aunt . “Though Dougherty admits his marriage to Norma Jeane (Marilyn Monroe) was arranged, he said they were happy and very compatible sexually.” (Wayne 14). Just two years after Jim and Marilyn were married (1942), Jim was sent off to Australia and this is when they realized how much they needed each other. While Jim was away Marilyn worked in a defense plant where she packed and inspected parachutes for the war that was going on in the Pacific. While
married to Jim, Marilyn became very sexual and she craved for attention. This is what led her to hang out in bars and become what is known as a “call girl”. This would give her the attention that she wanted and help her make a little extra money on the side.
During this time, Marilyn did not have any idea of what she wanted to do with her life and she did not posses any work skills that could take care of her if something was to happen to her marriage. Which, Marilyn knew that it was going to happen because they were growing apart from each other and the war was to blame for this. While all this was going on in her life, she still worked at the defense plant. This decision to keep on working at the plant changed her life forever.
In her town there was a company named Yank magazine and they decided to do a column on women working in defense plants. The assigned photographer was David Conover. The very first time he saw Marilyn working in the plant he knew that she was the one. “Conover asked the foreman if she could be his model for three days. He was very impressed with the pictures and offered her more modeling jobs in the future.” (Wayne 32). This was a very exciting time for Marilyn and she was infatuated with modeling. She thought it was very exciting and glamorous. She knew right then that modeling is what she wanted to do with her life. Just after this, everything in her life started falling into place for her. A modeling agency, Blue Book Model Agency, saw her pictures and offered her
more modeling jobs. This is what clinched and launched her new career as a model. Marilyn kept her job at the defense plant because she needed the extra
money when she was not modeling. Anytime a modeling job came up though she would call in sick at the defense plant and go do the modeling job. She also attended charm school at night. With all these new changes in her life, she hardly had time or remembered to write to her husband. This kind of neglect for each other would become the main reason for the ending of their marriage. Jim received the divorce papers in the spring of 1946. After being together for four years they were legally separated and the marriage was over. Marilyn never regretted this and looked to the future. By this time, she became well known throughout Hollywood that led to her decision of becoming an actress.
Marilyn Monroe was not the first blonde to become popular in Hollywood. There was others before her, but the only difference between them is they could act better than her. She was the first blonde to be known for her looks rather than her acting. It was once said about Marilyn, “she had a glow and energy that was unmatched by any other personality before her. The voluptuous curves of her body and wide-eyed girlish giggles dominated every presence…” (Spoto 3). Since people found Marilyn so attractive it did not matter that she was not the best actress. People would come to the movies based on her looks and not on her acting ability. Because of all this commotion going on about Marilyn’s looks, it turned her into one of the biggest sex symbols of the 20th century.
She had many different parts in movies, but her modeling was the dominant factor that helped her obtain the parts she wanted in the movies. Her beauty was the reason rushed people into the movie theatres. Somebody once said Marilyn is, “Dazzling, Seductive, Extraordinary. She was, and still is, the All-American sex goddess, a superstar legend with magnetic energy so strong she captured the world at her heels with her woman-child charm.” (Spoto 12) Just like Hollywood, men found Marilyn irresistible. She was known as a sex symbol to the world. Men would stop on the streets, just to watch her walk by. Some men offered her money to see her nude and some even offered her money to sleep with her. Even with all this publicity, Marilyn knew how to keep her fans captivated and interested with what was happening in her life. An example of this is during the filming of one of her movies she decided to do one of the scenes in the nude. The reason this was such a big deal was because in 1962 a semi-nude scene was unheard of. This caused such an upheaval in the industry that Life, Vogue and Cosmopolitan magazines arranged for interviews with Marilyn. Also Playboy bought her most revealing nudes for an unparalleled $25,000 (Haspiel 184). This was not the last time Marilyn Monroe would be seen in Playboy. She would appear as the centerfold for them in the years to come.
This was to be one of the most famous issues Playboy to ever be published. Because Marilyn was just getting known for her looks and nothing else, she started carrying what people would call the “blonde label”.
“There was an innocence to her gullibility that gave people the impression she was not very bright” (Summers 47). Since Hollywood chose to portray her during her with this stereotype during her career, she became known as a beautiful but unintelligent blonde. As Marilyn looked back at her career and her accomplishments she finally realized she would never escape this image. Every important event in her life that helped to make her become famous was some how linked with her being a ditsy blonde. One example of this is the Monroe Nude calendar she put out. All people saw was an unintelligent blonde with a nice figure and because of this she never rose above the busty dumb-blonde stigma. Even in her movies she played a typical dumb blonde. An example of this is in her first movie she played the typical dumb blonde waitress at a restaurant. She also committed acts that did not help her get over this stereotype. “One night she served her husband only peas and carrots because she said she liked the colors. She made him raw fish and put salt in his coffee by mistake” (Wayne 18). This “blonde” label that she acquired during her career would make her famous, but would be her downfall in the end. She was “publicized during her career as a beautiful but unintelligent blonde, she later acquired the tragic public image of a sensitive and insecure woman destroyed by the pressures of Hollywood” (Britannica 1). This goes to show that the image that Hollywood created for her ended up killing her career, and ruining her life altogether. Towards the end of her
career and this is what most people focus on when they think of Marilyn Monroe. What is not really known or talked about, is the men and affairs in her life.
Marilyn had a numerous amount of men through out her life. The reason for this is because she would get tired of them or they would find out she had been cheating on them. Another factor that contributed to this was the fact that Marilyn was sexually active at a very young age. This caused her to crave sexual attention and try knew things. A lot of the men in Marilyn’s life were either famous or they held an important position in Hollywood. She would sleep with directors or any other important people to get parts in movies, but not all her movies. She would also do this to make more money, to become more attached to the person, or to get what ever she wanted. Some of the most famous people that she was involved with were Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Chaplin, and the Kennedy brothers. Joe DiMaggio was probably the person that cared about her the most. An example of this is, he would fill her apartment up with flowers and love letters expressing his love for her. After Marilyn passed away he had a pair of red roses delivered to the crypt three times a week to show how much he was in love with her. Most of all the other men in Marilyn’s life were used just to help her career out and to gain publicity. Marilyn Monroe had a lot of different partners in her life, but she knew what she had to do to further her career. Because of this, it helped her become one of the most famous people of all time.
Clearly, Marilyn Monroe was one of the biggest and most important sex symbols of her time. She knew how to stimulate her fans at all times during her career. This helped her become famous faster than any other person during the twentieth century. Hollywood helped create Marilyn’s career, but in the end it also destroyed it. Another factor that ended her career is all the pressure she had to deal with. This all added up together, eventually causing her to overdose and die. She still remains a key element today, where she carries the label of a sex symbol. Almost anywhere a person goes they could find something having to do with Marilyn Monroe, whether it’s a picture, movie, or an article of clothing. One more example of her being a modern sex symbol is that Playboy named her “the best playmate of the century” (Wider 107). Marilyn Monroe will always be remembered as the beautiful provocative unintelligent blonde whose beauty will never be forgotten.