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Marilyn Monroe

Monroe, Marilyn, 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.

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