Monday, June 1, 2009


Today is the birthday of Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson at Los Angeles County Hospital in 1926, but baptized Norma Jeane Baker. Because of her mother's mental illness, Marilyn's childhood was spent in a series of foster homes. She lived with her mother for the first time, and only briefly, when she was eight years-old, in a house was just of Highland Avenue in Hollywood.

Monroe appears eight times in A Book of Ages, marrying at 16; at 19 dyeing her hair blonde and signing a $125-a-week contract with 20th Century Fox; meeting Truman Capote on the set of Asphalt Jungle at 24; marrying Joe DiMaggio at 27. A photograph she posed for in 1949 helped launch Playboy magazine in 1953. Her film persona was one of dim vulnerability, but she studied at the prestigious Actors Studio. She married brainy left-wing playwright Arthur Miller at a point when he was under fire for his political beliefs, and stood by him, risking being blacklisted herself. Her films show a performer of subtle and fragile complexity, of contradictions. She famously serenaded JFK on his 45th birthday in 1962, and died the same year at age 36.

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