- Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe is widely known for her successful film catalogue, iconic look, multiple high-profile relationships, and tragic, untimely death.
- Various photos of Marilyn Monroe are so famous they need no further explanation – like the iconic shot of her white skirt blowing up, for instance.
- Other photos, however, offer a rare glimpse into the star’s personality and private life.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories .
Throughout her relatively brief life, Marilyn Monroe struggled with the price of success. Though the Hollywood star’s films reportedly grossed a whopping $US200 million, Monroe also dealt with a number of personal and professional losses.
Easily regarded as one of the most recognisable actresses of the 20th century, Monroe certainly made her mark on pop culture. Her influence is still alive to this day, as Monroe memorabilia consistently sell for high prices at auctions worldwide.
“In some ways, she’s more popular and well-known today than she was even then,” Lawrence Schiller, a photographer, friend of Monroe’s, and author of the memoir “Marilyn & Me” is quoted as saying.
Though much of her private life is widely known – from her difficult childhood to her turbulent marriages – few images of her private life, away from the cameras, have been widely circulated.
Here are 50 rare photos of Marilyn Monroe that show another side to the star.
This is the first known studio portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe was born in 1926 as Norma Jeane Mortenson, and later baptized as Norma Jeane Baker, according to Biography.
Her mother, Gladys Baker, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
Biography reports that Baker was institutionalized when Norma Jeane was young.
Here, Norma Jeane Baker is pictured bottom right with her mother Gladys Baker and some family friends.
According to Biography, Gladys Baker had two other children from a previous marriage, but neither lived with her.
Norma Jeane never knew her father.
However, according to Biography, Baker’s mother claimed he was a Consolidated Studios co-worker named Charles Stanley Gifford.
Norma Jeane, pictured here at age 5, lived with various friends and relatives throughout most of her childhood.
According to Biography, Norma Jeane Baker moved around from home to home.
Grace and Doc Goddard were the first of her guardians.
According to Biography, Gladys Baker paid the couple $US25 per week to look after her young daughter.
Throughout her childhood, the star-to-be bounced around from home to home.
Biography explains that at points in her early life, Baker lived with her mum’s sister-in-law and even the Los Angeles Orphans’ Home. According to the site, she also endured sexual assault while in foster care.
Here, Norma Jeane Baker is pictured on a trip to the zoo.
Norma Jeane’s home life began to stabilise when she moved into the home of “Aunt Ana,” a family friend of the Goddards.
In 1947, things began to look up for the natural brunette.
Her mother was released from the mental institution she was living in and resumed living with her at Aunt Ana’s house.
Aunt Ana exposed both Norma Jeane and her mother to the Christian Science faith. Her mother, however, soon left, saying she wanted to live with her Aunt Dora in Oregon.
Norma Jeane would later discover, according to Biography, that mid-journey, her mother had married again, this time to an already-wed man with children.
Norma Jeane then began dating a local boy named Jim Dougherty.
According to the LA Times, the two began dating when Baker was just 15 years old.
They married in 1942. Baker — now Dougherty — was only 16, but marrying Dougherty, a police officer, helped her avoid going back into the foster care system.
Dougherty later told United Press International in 1990, “I never knew Marilyn Monroe, and I don’t claim to have any insights to her to this day. I knew and loved Norma Jean.”
Dougherty started using the name Marilyn Monroe around 1946.
However, she didn’t legally change her name until 1956, according to The Atlantic.
While her husband served overseas in the Marines, Monroe began working in a local factory in Van Nuys, California.
According to Biography, a photographer also working there asked if she wouldn’t mind having her photo taken. From there, her modelling career was born.
By the time her husband returned from the war, her career as a model had started taking off.
Monroe continued modelling during the 1940s but dreamed of becoming an actress, according to Biography.
Despite her career success, Marilyn’s personal life was struggling.
In 1946, she and Jim Dougherty divorced.
Soon after, she signed with 20th Century Fox under her new stage name, Marilyn Monroe, according to Mashable.
After being signed, she dyed her hair a lighter shade of blonde, which soon became her trademark.
Here, she poses for her first official studio portrait.
Monroe’s first film, “Ladies of the Chorus,” was released in 1948.
However, she was still a relatively unknown actress.
She began making public appearances and her stardom continued to rise.
In June of 1949, she presented Photoplay Magazine’s “Dream House” contest winner Virginia McAllister and her son with the key to a new house.
She began auditioning for more and more productions.
Fans became enamoured with the blonde bombshell.
“The Asphalt Jungle,” released in 1952, was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Though Monroe’s role in the film was small, her performance captured the attention of many viewers, according to the World History Project.
She can be seen here reading her fan mail.
The next few years would culminate in her most iconic films to date — namely, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “How to Marry a Millionaire,” and “The Seven Year Itch.”
All three of these films are among her most critically acclaimed movies.
Many of her roles involved playing the “dumb blonde” archetype, and she soon became a “sex symbol.”
However, Monroe dreamed of becoming a serious actress and playing more dramatic roles.
She worked with acting coach Natasha Lytess throughout her career, once practicing together for 48 hours straight.
She also eventually studied at the Actors Studio, according to Vanity Fair.
Monroe and Jane Russell both starred in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in 1953.
Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the movie would later be referenced by Madonna in her “Material Girl” music video.
Marilyn was known for attracting large audiences to her movies.
According to PBS, Monroe’s films grossed more than $US200 million during her brief career.
1953’s “How to Marry a Millionaire,” which also featured Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, was the fourth highest-grossing film of 1953.
The film starred the trio as three models looking to land rich husbands in New York City.
Despite becoming an international star on the rise, Monroe struggled with performance anxiety related to her acting.
According to Biography, the starlet’s stagefright was so intense that she would oftentimes be physically ill and late to set as a result.
In 1954, Monroe married baseball player Joe DiMaggio in San Francisco City Hall.
However, her career still proved a priority. According to Mashable, she left directly from her honeymoon in Japan to perform for American troops stationed in Korea.
She also spent time talking with the servicemen and eating in the Mess Hall.
According to Mashable, over the course of four days, Monroe performed 10 shows for an estimated 100,000 servicemen.
Monroe shot her famous skirt-flying scene on the set of “The Seven Year Itch,” on October 15, 1954.
The scene was highly publicized prior to filming. Scores of photographers, spectators, and DiMaggio himself came to watch Marilyn’s skirt being blown upwards by a subway grate.
Following the shooting of the famous skirt scene, it was reported that DiMaggio didn’t like the iconic moment.
According to the New York Post, he reportedly commented, “What the hell is going on here?”
The couple is said to have quarreled over Monroe’s fame and the attention she was getting from the press. In November 1954, around a month after the famous scene was filmed, the couple divorced.
Throughout 1955, Monroe attended the Actors’ Studio in New York City, hoping to hone her craft.
According to The Marilyn Monroe Collection, it was considered the most prestigious acting school in the country.
In April 1955, Marilyn appeared on “Person to Person” to discuss her career and the parts she truly longed to play.
“It’s not that I object to doing musicals and comedies – in fact, I rather enjoy them – but I’d like to do dramatic parts too,” she said.
The Ambassador Hotel, where Marilyn shot this intimate series of photos, no longer exists in Manhattan.
However, the photos that were taken there capture the excitement of Hollywood’s favourite star moving to New York City.
While living in New York, Monroe worked with director Lee Strasberg.
According to Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, he later commented, “I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of actors and actresses, and there are only two that stand out way above the rest. Number one is Marlon Brando, and the second is Marilyn Monroe.”
Around this time, in 1955, Monroe took up a relationship with famed American playwright Arthur Miller.
According to Biography, Monroe had known him for years. At the time, however, Miller was married.
On June 29, 1956, Monroe and Miller married.
On July 1, in a more formal Jewish ceremony, the starlet was given away by teacher Lee Strasberg in front of a mere 25 guests, according to History Today.
The newlyweds stayed at Miller’s summer home in Roxbury, Connecticut.
In the above photo, Monroe can be seen waving as the newlyweds went for a drive in Roxbury.
The honeymoon phase was short and sweet for Miller and Monroe.
According to History Today, their wedding rings were inscribed with the words “now is forever.”
“This is the first time I’ve been really in love,” Monroe said about Miller.
According to Biography, Monroe was noticeably head over heels in love with Miller.
The couple soon travelled to London so that Monroe could begin working on “The Prince and the Showgirl” with Laurence Olivier.
However, while on location, Monroe reportedly had an affair with a young assistant director named Colin Clark. The love affair was later documented in the film, “My Week With Marilyn,” which starred Eddie Redmayne and Michelle Williams.
Throughout their marriage, Monroe struggled to conceive a child and suffered multiple miscarriages.
According to Biography, Monroe blamed herself for her third known miscarriage because she was a frequent pill user and arguably abused them around that time.
Other problems marred the young actress’ marriage. While on location in London, she discovered a notebook in which Miller claimed he had misgivings about marrying her.
Monroe told Lee and Paula Strasberg about what Miller had written in the notebook, saying, “… he thought I was some kind of angel but now he guessed he was wrong. That his first wife had let him down, but I had done something worse.”
For a time afterward, however, the couple enjoyed their marriage. Monroe stepped away from the spotlight, choosing instead to focus on her home life and getting pregnant.
The Pulitzer-winning playwright even dedicated an edition of his collected plays to Monroe in a public display of affection.
Monroe began filming “Some Like it Hot” in 1959.
The movie was a huge success, and Monroe won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Actress. However, a couple of months after she’d finished shooting, Monroe had her final miscarriage.
In 1960, Monroe allegedly had an affair with Yves Montand while working on “Let’s Make Love.”
According to Biography, Miller reportedly didn’t even object to the affair.
Trouble continued to brew between Miller and Monroe on the set of “The Misfits,” a film based off a short story written by Miller that was intended to take Monroe from blonde bombshell to serious film actress.
Arthur Miller met photographer Inge Morath while working on the film. He would eventually marry her after divorcing Monroe in 1962.
“The Misfits” would become Monroe’s final film.
She was fired from her next film, “Something’s Gotta Give,” for failing to show up to the set numerous times. She was eventually rehired, but the film was never finished.
On August 5, 1962, the actress passed away at her Los Angeles residence at the age of 36. The coroner’s report cited barbiturate overdose as the cause of death.
Beneath the glitz and glamour, Marilyn Monroe led a difficult life tousled by personal crises.
However, she remains one of Hollywood’s most famous and recognisable stars.
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