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Marilyn Monroe, Unforgettable

Published: 8/5/2012

As of today, the world is now 50 years removed from Marilyn Monroe's life. The screen legend and sex symbol died on August 5, 1962, and generations have now grown up knowing her only from her movies… or, perhaps even more likely, from her photographs.

In this April 1962 file photo, actress Marilyn Monroe is shown on the set of her last movie,
In this April 1962 file photo, actress Marilyn Monroe is shown on the set of her last movie, "Something's Got To Give," in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)


Almost every other person who has ever lived will have faded into a murky distance 50 years after their death. They may be remembered still, mourned still – but only Monroe and a select few of her contemporaries (Elvis Presley, James Dean) are still such an integral part of our culture, decades after their deaths.

Is Marilyn Monroe still hot because today's teens are devouring movies that were made more than half a century ago? Or is it more because of the wealth of stunning photographs of Monroe that still circulate on social media and in the news? Even in an era when paparazzi didn't follow stars around to document their every move, Monroe was endlessly photographed… and publicly she was almost always charming and photogenic. These images of a bygone era's glamour are still irresistible today – both to those who were alive for Monroe's stardom and for younger people who yearn for a time when satin and diamonds were de rigueur.

Or maybe it's just that we love to look at her sunny smile, her platinum curls, her famous curves. Today, we offer a few of our favorite images of the greatest blonde bombshell of all time.

Marilyn Monroe's origin story is a modern-day legend – the pretty young brunette named Norma Jeane who loved the movies and would eventually transform herself, becoming a superstar and then, icon. Early photos of Norma Jeane Dougherty are especially captivating now that we know the path that was in store for the aspiring model and actress.

In this 1946 file image taken by photographer Joseph Jasgur and released by Julien's Auctions, Norma Jean Dougherty, who eventually changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, is shown. Copyrights and images from Marilyn Monroe's first photo shoot sold for $352,000 at Julien's Auctions after a bankruptcy judge in Florida ruled that photos taken of Monroe were to be sold at auction in Dec. 2011 to settle the debts of the photographer. (AP Photo / Julien's Auctions, Joseph Jasgur)
Norma Jean Dougherty, who eventually changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, is shown in this 1946 image. (AP Photo / Julien's Auctions, Joseph Jasgur)


As Monroe became a starlet, her new fans wanted to learn more about her, like what pets she had… and maybe how she managed to walk the dog with skis on.

In this January 1, 1947 file photo, starlet Marilyn Monroe plays at the beach with her dog Ruffles. (AP Photo)
In this January 1, 1947 file photo, starlet Marilyn Monroe plays at the beach with her dog Ruffles. (AP Photo)


Photos of Marilyn Monroe at the beach abound – especially once she lightened her hair to catch the attention of modeling agencies.

Marilyn Monroe has held a variety of jobs, from making five cents a week in an Orphan home to a stock contract at a studio. She clicked as the sexy girl in
Marilyn Monroe in 1951, the year Stars and Stripes named her Miss Cheesecake. (AP Photo)


Perhaps one reason Marilyn Monroe was so frequently photographed was that she could make almost any activity look like breezy fun – for example, getting into a car.

Our undated picture shows Marilyn Monroe, smiling in car. (AP Photo)
This undated picture shows Marilyn Monroe, smiling in car. (AP Photo)


Making handprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre looked like a blast, too.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell add their handprints to Grauman's Chinese Theater (Wikimedia Commons / Los Angeles Times)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell add their handprints to Grauman's Chinese Theater (Wikimedia Commons / Los Angeles Times)


As Marilyn Monroe's fame grew, so grew our fascination with her life … especially her love life. Her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller – and the rumors of her other affairs – kept us riveted.

In this Jan. 14, 1954 file photo, Joe DiMaggio, baseball's famed
In this Jan. 14, 1954 file photo, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, smile cheek to cheek as they wait patiently for their marriage ceremony. (AP Photo)


As an actress, she was talented, funny and at times, magical.

In this 1953 publicity photo provided by Running Press, Marilyn Monroe is shown on set in the film, 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.' Monroe is probably best remembered for her comic turns in this film. In 1985, Madonna paid homage to 'Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend' in her 'Material Girl' video. (AP Photo / Courtesy Running Press)
In this 1953 publicity photo, Marilyn Monroe is shown on set of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." (AP Photo / Courtesy Running Press)


And, of course, she was glamorous.

In this undated publicity photo courtesy Running Press, Marilyn Monroe is shown wearing a knife-pleated gold lamé gown made from 'one complete circle of fabric.' She wore this dress in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.' A half-century later, '50s bombshell Marilyn Monroe is a new generation's pop-culture phenomenon. Monroe died August 5, 1962. (AP Photo / Courtesy Running Press)
In this undated publicity photo, Marilyn Monroe is shown wearing a knife-pleated gold lamé gown made from "one complete circle of fabric." She wore this dress in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." (AP Photo / Courtesy Running Press)


In image after image, Marilyn Monroe remains, above all else, unforgettable.

In this Sept. 9, 1954 file photo, Marilyn Monroe poses over the updraft of New York subway grating while in character for the filming of 'The Seven Year Itch' in Manhattan. The former Norma Jean Baker modeled and starred in 28 movies grossing $200 million. Sensual and seductive, but with an air of innocence, Monroe became one of the world's most adored sex symbols. She died alone by suicide, at age 36 in her Hollywood bungalow. (AP Photo / Matty Zimmerman)
In this Sept. 9, 1954 file photo, Marilyn Monroe poses over the updraft of New York subway grating while in character for the filming of "The Seven Year Itch" in Manhattan. The former Norma Jean Baker modeled and starred in 28 movies grossing $200 million. Sensual and seductive, but with an air of innocence, Monroe became one of the world's most adored sex symbols. She died alone by suicide, at age 36 in her Hollywood bungalow. (AP Photo / Matty Zimmerman)


Written by Linnea Crowther

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