Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson, June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962), an actress and model. She became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s, emblematic of the era’s attitudes towards sexuality. Her films grossed $200 million by the time of her unexpected death in 1962.
In her autobiography, 'My Story', she recounted her guardian told her she was a direct descendant of James Monroe. Her mother's maiden name was Monroe, but there is no evidence she was a descendant of the U.S. President.
In late 1944, photographers from the U.S. Army Air Forces' First Motion Picture Unit were sent to the Radioplane factory to shoot morale-boosting photographs of young women helping the war effort.
Monroe starred in three films released in 1953, which established her as one of the most bankable Hollywood stars as well as one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1950s.
In March, a scandal broke when she revealed in an interview that she had posed for nude pictures in 1949, which were featured in popular calendars. The studio had learnt of the photographs some weeks earlier, and in order to contain their potentially disastrous effects on her career, they and Monroe had decided to talk about them openly while stressing that she had only posed for them due to a dire financial situation.
In September 1954, Monroe began filming The Seven Year Itch in New York. Directed by Billy Wilder and co-starring Tom Ewell, the story focused on a man (Ewell), who begins to fantasize about his attractive neighbor (Monroe) after his wife and children leave him alone in New York for the summer.
Monroe began 1956 by announcing her win over 20th Century-Fox, which prompted Time to call her a "shrewd businesswoman", and the first projects of her company, film adaptations of the plays Bus Stop, to be co-produced with Fox, and The Sleeping Prince, which was to be directed and co-starred by Laurence Olivier.
In Bus Stop, her first film after her return to Hollywood, Monroe played Chérie, a talentless saloon singer whose dreams of becoming a star are complicated by a naïve cowboy, played by Don Murray, who falls desperately in love with her. Broadway director Joshua Logan was employed to direct, despite initially doubting her ability to act and knowing of her reputation for being difficult on set.
Monroe returned to Hollywood in July 1958 to play the female lead, singer Sugar Kane, in Billy Wilder's comedy Some Like It Hot, about two men (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) who dress as women and join her all-female orchestra after needing to go into hiding after witnessing the Valentine's Day Massacre. In the film, she performed one of her most famous songs, "I Wanna Be Loved by You". The difficulties of the film's production have since become "legendary".
Biographer Sarah Churchwell has however suggested that the issues stemmed from a power struggle between Wilder, who also had a reputation for being difficult on set, and Monroe on how she should play the role, and that she deliberately ruined several scenes in order to act it her way.