Famous Dead Person of the Week: Marilyn Monroe
Life: June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962
Occupation: Actress and singer
Claim to Fame: The Original Sex Symbol
Fun Fact: Appeared on the cover of the first issue of Playboy.
I know movies have evolved a long way since the 1950s. I also know that I am young and contemporary and don’t understand why anyone would go see a movie without the benefit of CGI, explosions and witty dialogue peppered with swear words. But there is a reason schlocky comedies with bad jokes and dumb blondes went away (or were at least given to Adam Sandler): everyone sort of decided that they sucked. No one under the age of 84 watches Turner Classic Movies. Welp, Marilyn Monroe was a legend of that time.
Of course, criticizing Marilyn Monroe for her wooden acting is a bit like criticizing Kate Upton for…well, it’s hard to find much to criticize about Kate Upton, but you get the idea.
Marilyn’s fame was in direct proportion to her looks (stunning, for the time at least; I’m not personally a huge fan, but what do I know?) and the era she arrived. As one of the first famous females in the ‘empowered ladies can do stuff besides live in the kitchen and make babies!’ era, Monroe is the archetype for all other sex goddesses that came after her. That standard offers her a classic, first-of-her-kind grace; no one that came after her would ever be considered as pure and classical as Monroe, no matter how off base that line of reasoning may have been.
We do know that Marilyn wasn’t an angel. She probably had affairs with JFK and his brother Robert (reportedly, she started shacking up with Bobby because JFK broke off the affair). She had psychiatric problems that haunted her entire life. She may or may not have had a drug problem, which would have been no big deal had she come along 50 years later. In fact, Clark Gable’s (of Gone With the Wind fame) wife blames Monroe’s awful behavior on the set of The Misfits as directly contributing to Gable’s life-ending heart attack.
Speaking of iconic men, she also married one of the most famous playwrights ever in Arthur Miller and the most iconic ballplayer of the age in Joe DiMaggio. She and DiMaggio were quite possibly the first-ever power couple, paving the way for TomKat, Brangelina and everyone else. What would the Monroe-DiMaggio coupling have been called these days? MoMagg? DiMonroe? JoeMar? She stayed married to DiMaggio for a whopping nine months (told you, the original Hollywood marriage), although he felt compelled to decorate her grave with roses three times a week for 20 years after her death.
And then, at age 36, she died of acute barbiturate poisoning, which is a fancy way of saying there was quite a drug cocktail floating through her system. Theories abound that the Kennedy’s had her murdered or that the CIA or Mafia had a hand in her untimely demise, but most likely the biggest sex symbol of the middle 20th century killed herself in her Brentwood, Calif. home, alone and depressed.