Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Talk Of Hollywood

Norma Jeane Mortenson, born 1 June 1926, in Los Angeles County Hospital, was to become better known as Marilyn Monroe, perhaps the the most famous and glamorous of all the Hollywood stars. Norma Jeane was the third child born to Gladys Pearl Baker. Despite her birth certificate naming Edward Mortenson, a Norwegian, as her father, throughout her life she denied that he was, claiming that as a child her mother showed her a picture of her father, and it was not Mortenson. Being mentally unstable and financially unable to care for her daughter Gladys Baker placed her with foster parents, Albert and Ida Bolender, of Hawthorne, California, where she lived until she was 7. Norma Jeane then went to live with her mother in a house that Gladys had bought, but a few months later her mother suffered a breakdown and Norma Jeane was made a ward of state. Gladys had a best friend, Grace McKee, who became her guardian. It was whilst living with Grace that Norma Jeane took her first steps towards her career. Grace, a film addict, told Norma Jeane that one day she would become a movie star, and let the young girl wear makeup and have her hair curled. They would go to the movies together forming the basis for Norma Jeane's fascination with the cinema. In 1935, at the age of 9, Norma Jeane was sent to Los Angeles Orphans Home, followed by a succession of foster homes, as a result of Grace McKee's marriage to Edward Silliman Goddard. Two years later Grace and Goddard took Norma Jeane back. When Goddard tried to molest Norma Jeane, Grace sent her to live with her great aunt, Olive Brunings. Norma Jeane was assaulted by one of Olive's sons at the age of 12, and as a result went to live with Grace's aunt, Ana Lower. Ana developed health problems and Norma Jeane found herself back with Grace and Goddard. In 1942, when she was 16, Grace and Goddard moved East and could not take Norma Jeane. Grace suggested to a neighbour that her son, James Dougherty, could marry Norma Jeane to save her from returning to the orphanage. The marriage took place in June 1942, but lasted only until 1946, when Norma Jeane decided to pursue her career.
During World War II whilst Dougherty was in the Merchant Navy, Norma Jeane lived with her mother-in-law. Her first job was working in a munitions factory. During this time an Army photographer, David Conover, snapped a photograph of her for 'Yank' magazine. He encouraged her to apply to The Blue Book modeling agency. She was told they were looking for girls with light hair, so she died her brunette hair to a golden blonde. Norma Jeane Dougherty became one of Blue Book's most successful models. In 1946, she came to the attention of Ben Lyon a 20th Century Fox executive. She was offered a six month contract at a salary of $125 per week. It was at this time she changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, taking her surname from that of her grandmother. At the end of six months the contract was not renewed and Monroe, unable to find film work, went back to modeling including posing for nude pictures.
In 1948, Monroe signed another six month contract with Columbia Pictures. It was here she met Natasha Lytess, who was to become her acting coach for several years. Again the contract was not renewed. Her break came after appearing in a small role in the Marx Brothers film 'Love Happy' (1949). The role brought her to the attention of agent Johnny Hyde and it was at this point Marilyn Monroe's career began to take off. By 1950, shortly before his death, Hyde had negotiated a seven year contract for her with 20th Century Fox.
In 1952 Monroe faced a possible scandal after her nude photographs from 1949 were featured in a calendar. Monroe told the media she did the photographs because she had no money and could not pay the rent. Her story gained sympathy and the situation was diffused.
She appeared on the cover of 'Life' in April 1952 where she was described as 'The Talk of Hollywood'. It was around this time she began dating baseball player, Joe Di Maggio and reports of a developing romance generated further interest in Monroe. Supporting roles in four films followed, along side such stars as Barbara Stanwyck, Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers.
Darryl F Zanuck cast her in 'Niagara' opposite Joseph Cotton. It was during this film her makeup artist noticed the stage fright that was to mark her behaviour on film sets throughout her career. In December 1953 she appeared on the cover of the first edition of 'Playboy'. Films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, the controversial There's No Business Like Show Business and The Seven Year Itch, made Marilyn Monroe an international film star, recognised the world over. On 14 January 1954, Monroe and Di Maggio were married in San Francisco. Shortly afterwards the couple went to Japan, before Monroe continued alone to Korea where she performed for 13,000 American marines over a three day period.
In September 1954 Monroe did the famous scene from The Seven Year Itch where she stands over a subway grating, with air blowing her skirt over her head. Di Maggio was present while the shot was filmed many times, he became infuriated at the spectacle and a quarrel developed between the couple. Within two weeks Monroe announced they had separated, by November a divorce was granted.
On the 29th June 1956, Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller, whom she first met in 1950, in a civil ceremony in White Plains, New York. In 1956 Arthur Miller wrote a short story. By 1960 he had developed it into a screenplay and envisaged it as suitable for Monroe. It became her last completed film 'The Misfits' co-starring Clarke Gable. During the making of the film Monroe became plagued with sickness, taking sleeping pills and alcohol, and was being treated by a psychiatrist. Tension was mounting between Monroe and Miller. They returned to New York on separate flights. Ten days later Monroe announced their separation.
On 19th May 1962, Monroe made her last significant public appearance, singing 'Happy Birthday Mr President' to the then President, John F Kennedy, at Madison Square Garden. Rumour suggested that Monroe had affairs with both Robert and John F Kennedy.
On 5th August 1962, Monroe's psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson, made a call to the Los Angeles Police Department informing them that Marilyn Monroe was dead at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, Calfornia. The official cause of death according to Dr Thomas Noguchi, was 'acute barbiturate poisoning' which he recorded as an overdose. Her death was rumored to be probable suicide, but because of lack of evidence, investigators could not classify her death as suicide or homicide. Also, some conspiracy theories involved John and Robert Kennedy with her death, while other theories suggest CIA or mafia complicity. Monroe was interred in a crypt at Corrider of Memories, #24, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, Calafornia.

Today's Smile


Gotta get married in a church.

Car Sickness
The feeling you get when the car payment is due.

A book which people praise, but do not read.

Clothes Dryer
An appliance designed to eat socks.

Wildlife Pictures No.13

Another picture from our Wildlife Pictures series.
Stunning photography.
(Click on image to enlarge)

Thought For Today

Before borrowing money from a friend decide which you need most.
American Proverb

Maxine's World

How To Spot A Loser

(Click image to enlarge)