November/December 2005 | Volume 56, Issue 6
Norma Jeane Mortensen is born at Los Angeles General Hospital, Los Angeles, to Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker. Gladys Baker will spend much of her life in and out of mental institutions.
Nine-year-old Norma Jeane is sent to live at a Los Angeles orphanage. Marilyn later said of her childhood, “No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren’t.”
At 16 Norma Jeane escapes foster-home existence and marries a neighbor, a former football jock at Van Nuys High, named James Dougherty.
Jim is sent overseas. Norma Jeane begins work on an assembly line at the Radioplane Company. The winsome Mrs. Dougherty is photographed for a promotional piece on women in the war effort. This gets the attention of modeling agents.
Norma Jeane signs a contract with Twentieth Century–Fox and is rechristened Marilyn Monroe: Marilyn, after actress Marilyn Miller, and Monroe being a family name. She dyes her wavy brown hair blonde.
The Doughertys divorce.
Marilyn’s contract is dropped.
Marilyn signs with Columbia Pictures and will lend a decent singing voice to a musical,
Marilyn meets a William Morris agent, the much-older Johnny Hyde, at a New Year’s party. Hyde falls in love with Marilyn, and his devotion will result in her landing two small but important film roles, in
Struggling to pay her bills, Marilyn poses nude for a calendar. The photos will be used in the launch of the publisher Hugh Hefner’s new magazine for men in December 1953. Marilyn Monroe is Playboy magazine’s first centerfold.
The rising star steps out on a date with the newly retired baseball legend Joe DiMaggio.
Marilyn gets her first Life magazine cover.
The hit film
Marilyn marries Joe DiMaggio.
The newlywed Marilyn entertains troops in Korea.
An enraged Joe DiMaggio stands by as his wife films the famous skirt-blowing scene from
Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio separate after less than a year of marriage.
Marilyn leaves Hollywood for New York.
Marilyn enrolls in the Actors Studio, run by Lee Strasberg. “My illusions didn’t have anything to do with being a fine actress. I knew how third rate I was. I could actually feel my lack of talent, as if it were cheap clothes I was wearing inside. But, my God, how I wanted to learn, to change, to improve!”
Marilyn converts to Judaism and marries the playwright Arthur Miller, becoming Marilyn Miller.
Marilyn returns to Hollywood to make the comedy
Shooting starts on
Marilyn and Arthur Miller are divorced.
Marilyn checks into a New York psychiatric clinic.
Marilyn wins World Film Favorite at the Golden Globe Awards.
Marilyn starts shooting her last —and unfinished—film, Something’s Got to Give .
Marilyn, sewn into a see-through sequined dress, performs a breathy rendition of “Happy Birthday” for President John F. Kennedy at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Marilyn Monroe is found dead in her Brentwood home, of an apparent barbiturate overdose.
Arranged by Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn’s small funeral is held at Westwood Memorial Park, in Los Angeles. DiMaggio has red roses brought to Marilyn’s wall crypt three times weekly for the next 20 years.