Strange Marilyn Monroe Facts
Another Marilyn Monroe myth was that she was a blonde. In fact, the actress famed for her platinum blond curls actually was a dark haired brunette. She first dyed her hair blonde after being told that models with lighter colored hair were preferable, so bleached it to golden blonde and later adjusted this a total of nine times until she settled on platinum blonde. As Monroe later stated, “There’s only one sort of natural blonde on earth – albinos.”
Monroe didn’t just have looks, but brains as well. Her IQ came out at a full 33 points above the national average at the time when she was tested (at 163). However, potential intelligence is one thing, pairing it with accumulated knowledge is another. Largely thanks to her turbulent upbringing, Monroe never even graduated high school, and working nearly non-stop as a model and an actress hardly lent itself to time for academic pursuits.
That being said, she did have a small library of around 400 books, largely non-fiction. Her third husband, Arthur Miller, commented though that she rarely finished any of them. She tended to skim them until she picked up the basic idea and then felt it was pointless to read in more detail later.
Veronica Hamel and her husband purchased Monroe’s Brentwood home in 1972 and attempted to have the roof replaced. What the contractor found in the roof was an eavesdropping and telephone tapping system. At the time of Monroe’s death in 1962, this type of system was “standard issue” for the FBI. This, and other evidence, further inflamed conspiracy theorists who maintain Monroe was murdered due to her alleged relationship with JFK and Robert Kennedy. However, in 1982, whether she committed suicide or was murdered was reviewed by an official inquest and they determined the original investigation got it right, that she committed suicide by ingesting large amounts of Nembutal, enough to raise the level in her bloodstream to 4.5 milligrams per 100, meaning she must have ingested about 40-50 capsules.
Monroe, originally Norma Jeane Mortenson, and then shortly thereafter Norma Jeane Baker (Baker being the last name of her mother’s husband before Martin Mortensen, Monroe’s father), was born all the way back in 1926 and spent most of her early years in foster care and some time in an orphanage. Her father ran off before she was born and her mother had severe mental problems, including ultimately being placed in a mental institution. When she was 16 years old, her foster parents moved and could no longer afford to keep her. In order to avoid having to go back to an orphanage, she married her first husband, 21 year old Jimmy Dougherty in June of 1942; apparently not entirely by choice, though this point has been disputed. Monroe herself stated about it, “Grace McKee arranged the marriage for me, I never had a choice. There’s not much to say about it. They couldn’t support me, and they had to work out something. And so I got married.”
Doughtery soon went off to fight in WWII, leaving Monroe at home. Before he left, she tried to convince him to get her pregnant, as she was afraid he’d die, but he refused because he thought she was too young to be pregnant. This worked out for her, though, in some respects, as she found herself working in a Radioplane plant where she was discovered by a photographer. Before her husband returned from the war, she already had a successful career in modeling and would very soon launch her movie career. Shortly after he returned, they got a divorce partially due to the fact that he did not approve of her new career and how scantily clad she was in many of the photos. According to Monroe, though, they just didn’t have a good relationship, with the two almost never talking, not because they were fighting or angry at one another, but just because they had nothing to say.
Doughtery wasn’t the only husband she lost due to her career, another was Joltin Joe DiMaggio. When she met him she was “surprised to be so crazy about Joe. I expected a flashy New York sports type, and instead I met this reserved guy who didn’t make a pass at me right away! He treated me like something special. Joe is a very decent man, and he makes other people feel decent, too.” However, less than a year after getting married, the two divorced. According to Monroe, “I didn’t want to give up my career, and that’s what Joe wanted me to do most of all. I want to be a big star more than anything. It’s something precious.” That being said, DiMaggio and she remained close and when she was in the Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in 1961, he helped her get out. She then spent time with him in Florida where he was working as a batting coach for the Yankees. Concerned with her mental state and the people she had surrounded herself with, he tried to get her to marry him again so he could look out for her directly, but she refused. DiMaggio was the one who a year later arranged her funeral.
For 20 years after her death, DiMaggio had fresh roses placed in the vase next to Monroe’s crypt three times per week.
Marilyn Monroe was on the cover of the first ever Playboy magazine in 1953. The nude centerfold photo inside was taken by Tom Kelley and was originally for a calendar called “Miss Golden Dreams”. After she became famous, it was discovered that the nude photo in the calendar was Monroe. Rather than payoff a blackmailer at the time, she instead came out and admitted the photo was her stating, “My sin has been no more than I have written, posing for the nude because I desperately needed 50 dollars to get my car out of hock.” Hefner shortly thereafter purchased the right to use the photo in the first edition of Playboy for $500. Besides the initial amount she was paid when the photo was taken, she never saw a dime for it after, even though it made Hefner millions thanks to it instantly propelling his magazine into wide circulation, selling around 54,000 issues within week of that first issue being published.
Hugh Hefner purchased the burial vault next to Marilyn Monroe as his future place of final rest.
Playboy was founded thanks to $1000 Hugh Hefner’s mother gave him to start the magazine, along with another $7000 he raised from other sources, such as his brother.
When Monroe died at the age of 36 in 1962, her estate value was estimated at around $1.6 million (about $11.4 million today). Four months shy of 50 years later, her estate still earns around $2 million per year licensing her name and likeness. Her films grossed around $200 million in her lifetime (about $1.7 billion today). She earned so little through most of her career largely thanks to being under contract in the old studio system, making a certain amount per week. In her early years, this was often less than the makeup artists and the like made, despite her being the star of the picture. At the time of her death, she was making considerably more and even had an offer for a four movie stint for $10 million ($72 million today), among many other offers.
Monroe was almost propositioned by the Prince of Monaco, Prince Rainier, being one of the women he was considering for his future wife. However, he instead chose to marry actress Grace Kelly, at which point she quit acting.
Monroe attempted to have kids a couple different times with famed playwright Arthur Miller, resulting in two miscarriages. She had a condition, endometriosis, where tissue of her uterus lining would attach itself to other areas of her body and grow, which can be extremely painful and cause bleeding and difficulty getting and staying pregnant.
Marilyn Monroe started going by that name in 1946 around the same time she dyed her hair blonde and divorced her husband. However, she didn’t legally change it to Marilyn Monroe until 1953, seven years later. Funny enough, she stated, “I’ve never liked the name Marilyn. I’ve often wished that I had held out that day for Jean Monroe. But I guess it’s too late to do anything about it now.” She changed her name initially at the behest of Ben Lyon of 20th Century-Fox. He chose the name “Carol Lind” for her, but she hated it. She then chose Monroe, after her mother’s maiden name, and Lyon chose the Marilyn part, which he liked better than her first choice of Jeane Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe suffered from severe stage fright, even late in her career. Producer Henry Weinstein remarked that he saw her on many occasions near physically ill from stage fright while preparing to film her scenes. He further stated of her stage fright, “Very few people experience terror. We all experience anxiety, unhappiness, heartbreaks, but that was sheer primal terror.”