Norma Jean Baker endured a fatherless childhood of sexual abuse and poverty and was put in a string of orphanages and foster homes after mother Gladys Baker (nee Monroe), who suffered mental illness, was institutionalised.
She was born on 1 June 1926 in the Los Angeles County Hospital, the third child of Gladys Baker. She lived with a number of foster parents, as her mother was mentally unstable, until her mum's best friend Grace Mckee became her guardian.
Mckee was inspired by Jean Harlow and allowed the nine-year-old Norma to wear makeup and curl her hair until McKee married and sent Norma to an orphanage.
She was then sent to live with her great aunt Olive Brunings and it is thought that Norma was sexually assaulted by Olive's son, which some biographers have claimed led to her later behaviour, including substance abuse.
At 16, she escaped her old life by marrying a 21-year-old aircraft plant worker, Jim Dougherty, who she divorced four years later. By this time she had begun modelling bathing suits and, after bleaching her hair blonde, posed for pin-ups and glamour photos.
Howard Hughes tried to get her a screen test but was beaten to the punch by 20th Century-Fox, who signed her to a contract - at $125 per week for six months - and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe.
After appearing in small parts in films including 'Love Happy' and 'All About Eve', Monroe found fame in 1953 with 'Niagara', 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' and 'How To Marry a Millionaire'. That same year, she began dating baseball player Jo DiMaggio, and a nude spread of her appeared in the debut issue of Playboy magazine. Monroe had hit stardom.The nude spread caused a scandal with her studio so she agreed to admit she had posed for the photo as she was struggling to pay her rent. The resulting publicity created some sympathy for the struggling actress.
In 1954, she eloped with DiMaggio - a union which was only to last eight months - before filming 'There's No Business Like Show Business' and 'The Seven-Year Itch', with the classic scene in which she stood over a subway grating, skirt billowing. She applied for divorce from DiMaggio on the grounds of mental cruelty. Despite this, he secured her release from the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Mental Clinic in 1961.
Monroe's work began to slow down but, after undergoing psychoanalysis, critics praised her acting in 1956 film 'Bus Stop'. She married playwright Arthur Miller the same year, divorcing him four years on. In the meantime, she fell prey to alcohol and pills, and suffered two miscarriages.
After a year off in 1958, Marilyn returned to the silver screen for smash comedy, 'Some Like It Hot'. In 1960, she appeared in 'Let's Make Love', with Yves Montand, with whom she had an affair.
'The Misfits', written by husband Miller, was to be her final film. Work was interrupted by exhaustion, and she was then fired from 'Something's Got to Give' for not turning up for filming.
On 19 May 1962, the actress attended the early birthday celebration of John F Kennedy at Madison Square Gardens and sang 'Happy Birthday Mr President' in a now iconic manner.
She went into seclusion and on 5 August 1962, she was found dead at her home of an overdose of sleeping pills, aged 36. The verdict was suicide but has always been disputed, with countless conspiracy theories triggered by alleged affairs with brothers John F and Robert Kennedy.
Monroe has been portrayed by a number of actresses over the years, with the latest being Michelle Williams.
Williams will be playing Monroe in the BBC TV film 'My week with Marilyn' this year (2011), which portrays the seven days Monroe spent in England in 1957 filming 'The Prince and the Showgirl' with Laurence Olivier.
WOMEN'S REST ROOMS
FOR ALL THE MEN IN OUR LIVES WHO ASK, "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG IN THE RESTROOM”?
When you have to visit a public bathroom, you usually find a line of women, so you smile politely and take your place.
Once it's your turn, you check for feet under the stall doors. Every stall is occupied.
Finally, a door opens and you dash in, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the stall.
You get in to find the door won't latch. It doesn't matter, the wait has been so long you are about to wet your pants!
The dispenser for the modern "seat covers"(invented by someone's Mom, no doubt) is handy, but empty.
You would hang your purse on the door hook, if there was one, but there isn't - so you carefully, but quickly drape it around your neck, (Mom would turn over in her grave if you put it on the FLOOR!), yank down your pants, and assume " The Stance."
In this position your aging, toneless (God I should have gone to the gym!!!)thigh muscles begin to shake.
You'd love to sit down, but you certainly hadn't taken time to wipe the seat or lay toilet paper on it, so you hold "The Stance".
To take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reach for what you discover to be the empty toilet paper dispenser. In your mind, you can hear your mother's voice saying, "Honey, if you had tried to clean the seat, you would have KNOWN there was no toilet paper!"Your thighs shake more.
You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your nose on yesterday -the one that's still in your purse. (Oh yeah, the purse around your neck, that now, you have to hold up trying not to strangle yourself at the same time).That will have to do. You crumple it in the puffiest way possible. It's still smaller than your thumbnail.
Someone pushes your door open because the latch doesn't work.
The door hits your purse, which is hanging around your neck in front of your chest, and you and your purse topple backward against the tank of the toilet.
"Occupied!" you scream, as you reach for the door, dropping your precious, tiny, crumpled tissue in a puddle on the floor, lose your footing altogether, and slide down directly onto the TOILET SEAT.
It is wet of course.
You bolt up, knowing all too well that it's too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable germ and life form on the uncovered seat because YOU never laid down toilet paper -not that there was any, even if you had taken time to try.
You know that your mother would be utterly appalled if she knew, because, you're certain her bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because, frankly, dear, "You just don't KNOW what kind of diseases you could get".
By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, propelling a stream of water like a fire hose against the inside of the bowl that sprays a fine mist of water that covers your butt and runs down your legs and into your shoes.
The flush somehow sucks everything down with such force that you grab onto the empty toilet paper dispenser for fear of being dragged in too
At this point, you give up.. You're soaked by the spewing water and the wet toilet seat.
You try to wipe with a gum wrapper you found in your pocket! and then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.
You can't figure out how to operate the faucets with the automatic sensors, ...so you wipe your hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past the line of women still waiting.
You are no longer able to smile politely to them.
A kind soul at the very end of the line points out a piece of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. (Where was that when you NEEDED it??) You yank the paper from your shoe, plunk it in the woman's hand and tell her warmly, "Here, you just might need this".
As you exit, you spot your hubby, who has long since entered, used, and left the men's restroom.
Annoyed, he asks, "What took you so long, and why is your purse hanging around your neck?" ...........
This is dedicated to women everywhere who deal with a public restrooms (rest??? you've GOT to be kidding!!).It finally explains to the men what really does take us so long. It also answers their other commonly asked questions about why women go to the restroom in pairs. It's so the other gal can hold the door, hang onto your purse, and hand you Kleenex under the door!