With millions of admirers worldwide, Marilyn Monroe has, throughout the years, undoubtedly become one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces. Having become such a big part of pop culture, it is almost guaranteed that everyone one sees on the street is familiar with her foxy eyes and feminine features, whether or not said person has seen her movies before. With an admirable, endeavoring attitude and grit, the Californian actress made a name for herself during questionable times in the film industry, capturing many people’s hearts with her beauty and seemingly effortless sex appeal. But was that all that there ever was to her? In reality, such a statement could not be farthest from the truth.
Although confident and as pretty as a picture, the legendary blonde was just as insecure and anxious. Beneath her on-screen persona, Monroe was Norma Jeane first and foremost—while hurt and sometimes fearful, the actress was not the fragile soul people often painted her as. Instead, Monroe was incredibly fierce and strong-willed.
Beautiful? Yes, But Undeniably Talented Too
Marilyn’s extraordinary beauty is instantly recognizable even nowadays. Her impact on pop culture is huge, which has led her to be a major icon long after her death. Although Monroe’s charismatic ability to sweep society off their feet with her sensual image was notable, her often undervalued talents were also a big part of who she was.
While it is no news to anyone that the celebrated blonde was stunning, one must not assume that Marilyn’s looks were all there was to her—she was gifted and a better actress than most people gave her credit for. Although she lacked faith in her abilities at times, Monroe was extraordinarily hard-working and regularly pushed herself as both an actress and an artist.
A natural-born entertainer, no wonder why some of Monroe’s best roles were in comedies. From Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) to Some Like It Hot (1959), the actress has gotten a laugh out of audiences a great number of times. Although people often delegitimized her talents based on the roles she was given—a persona imposed upon her that she did try to change—Monroe often had to stick to the “dumb blonde” characters due to the high demand from the film industry.
While the actress could never take on roles that fully showcased her acting potential, there is no doubt that her comedic talents were priceless, mainly when satirizing society. For instance, during a conversation in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, one of the characters says, “Say, you’re not as dumb as they tell me,” to which Marilyn’s character replies, “I can be smart when I want to be. I only act dumb because men expect it.”
Powerful and Determined
Monroe came from a troubled past. Not only was she an orphan with a miserable childhood, but she also found herself stuck in an unfulfilling marriage later in life. Part of what makes Marilyn so inspiring is the way her genuine essence and kindness remained intact throughout her unfortunate, beaten life. Being an orphan certainly impacted how she looked at life, which led her to donate to many orphanages and charities such as The Arthritis Foundation, The USO, and many more throughout her lifetime.
There is hardly any doubt that Marilyn was a powerful and determined woman that never stopped trying to make her life more fulfilling against the most incredible odds. Nowadays, she is admired for her perseverance, strength, the way she always fought for her dreams, and everything she accomplished.
Constantly Pushing Boundaries
Often breaking through the stereotypes, Monroe frequently went against the grain. One of the best examples of her revolutionary doings was when she founded Marilyn Monroe Productions after breaking her contract with Twentieth Century Fox. In an era where women were supposed to know their place, Marilyn baffled Hollywood by becoming the first woman to start her own production company since Mary Pickford.
Never the one to back down, the blonde bombshell fought not only for her rights but the rights of others too. Apparently, she helped iconic and incredibly talentedElla Fitzgerald land a gig at the Mocambo nightclub near the beginning of her career. While, given the era, discrimination would have played a part, other Black entertainers, including Eartha Kitt and Herb Jeffries, had played at Mocambo before. It turned out that the owner was hesitant to book Fitzgerlad not because of her race but because she was overweight, “not glamorous enough,” and “without much sex appeal.” Marilyn ensured she got booked, which ultimately was a turning point in Fitzgerald’s career. She later said, “After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”
Norma Jeane was one of the most well-read women in the Western Hemisphere—and Marilyn Monroe was her biggest role. Rumored to have had an I.Q. of 168 (while there are no reliable sources, rumor has it that she took an I.Q. test because she was tired of being typecast as the “bimbo”), Marilyn (Norma), while not formally educated, was highly intelligent. Although she was generally viewed as nothing but a sex symbol, the beloved actress was indeed very bright. Her close friend Jane Russell described her as “very shy and very sweet and far more intelligent than people gave her credit for.”
With a witty and sly sense of humor, Marilyn’s hobbies included taking drama classes with legendary coach Constance Collier, attending poetry readings, and reading James Joyce.
Tough as Nails
While, to the public eye, Marilyn’s fortune and inconvertible fame seemed to be her greatest achievement, those turned out to be the things that slowly tore her apart in the end. Although Norma strived to make a better life for herself, which she certainly did for a while, the pressure to constantly act like her alter-ego took its toll on her working life, and everything else started crumbling since.
Apart from having had three failed marriages and a horrible childhood that made it hard for her to feel truly loved by anyone, Marilyn lived a tough life, successfully battling her employers for artistic freedom, equal pay, and respectful working conditions. Ultimately facing depression after everything she was put through, the blonde icon was never short on kindness and compassion towards others—that is precisely what makes her an unbelievably inspiring role model.
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