26 Surprising Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Marilyn Monroe

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I can’t believe I didn’t know some of this!

Marilyn Monroe is a Hollywood icon who has become larger than life.

20th Century-Fox

Her name and likeness are internationally known.

However, so much of her is shrouded in myth. In honor of her birthday, June 1, I’ve compiled a list of interesting facts you may not know about Marilyn.

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Marilyn was born in 1926, and spent much of her childhood in foster homes.

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She married her first husband at 16 to avoid going back to the orphanage. They divorced five years later. Her mother spent much of her time in a psychiatric hospital, and becoming institutionalized herself was one of Marilyn’s biggest fears.


Marilyn Monroe was named Castroville’s first Artichoke Queen in 1948.

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Apparently, she was not the first choice for the California farming community’s Artichoke Queen, being relatively unknown at the time, but she was the only one available.


Born Norma Jeane Mortenson (she also went by the surname Baker), she changed her name to Marilyn Monroe at the urging of studio execs when she was 20. After the change, she often referred to herself in the third person, suggesting «Marilyn» was almost a character to play.

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Monroe was a surname from her mother’s side, while Marilyn came from Broadway star Marilyn Miller.


She had a stutter as a child and again in high school. A speech therapist advised her to speak in a breathy tone.

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This became her trademark. Due to stress, her stutter also came back in her final year as she shot Something’s Got to Give.


She also dealt with serious nerves, even after she’d done many films. According to Bus Stop costar Don Murray, she’d break out into rashes every time they shot a scene.

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Makeup artists had to be brought in to cover the rashes.


Marilyn was a huge fan of Ella Fitzgerald. She convinced the Mocambo nightclub to let Fitzgerald play, bringing her jazz to a wider audience.

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Sources vary on why Fitzgerald had not been booked thus far: Snopes reported it was actually Fitzgerald’s «lack of sex appeal» and not her race as many claimed. However, it’s clear that booking the gig was a turning point in Fitzgerald’s career.


According to her roommate Shelly Winters, Albert Einstein was on Monroe’s list of men she’d want to sleep with «just for fun.»

Lucien Aigner / Getty Images

There was apparently no one under 50 on Monroe’s list.


Marilyn struggled with people not seeing her as a serious actor. She took a year to study with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York at lover Elia Kazan’s suggestion, before returning to star in the critically acclaimed Bus Stop.

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According to costar Murray, she had trouble with her dialogue and had to stop every few lines, leading him to fear the movie would be a disaster. However, when everything was edited together, he was impressed by her performance and said she should have won an Academy Award.


Who did she sit next to in this class? Jane Fonda.

OWN / Via zmeinogorsk.ru

Fonda said, «She knew she was the most famous woman in the world and the sexiest and most sought after. She always thought, ‘This is the day they’re gonna find out I’m a fraud.’”


Monroe started her own production company called Marilyn Monroe Productions in 1955, so that she could do more dramatic parts.

Marilyn Monroe Productions

Twentieth Century Fox was upset and sued her — it took a year to make a nonexclusive deal with them. Historically underpaid, Monroe negotiated for backpay, a higher salary, and approval over scripts, directors, and cinematographer, which was extremely rare in the studio system of the 1950s. The company coproduced Bus Stop and independently produced The Prince and the Showgirl.


In 1956, her soon-to-be husband, playwright Arthur Miller, was investigated for communist activity by the HUAC. Marilyn risked her career by speaking in his favor in the hearings, which helped keep him out of prison.

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Miller and Monroe married four days after the panel.


Due to this, Monroe was actually a suspected communist herself.

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However, the FBI wrote in 1962, «Subject’s views are very positively and concisely leftist; however, if she is being actively used by the Communist Party, it is not general knowledge among those working with the movement in Los Angeles.»


Monroe was much more political than people remember — she was actually a founding member of the Hollywood branch of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. When asked about her nightmare in an interview, she replied, «The H-bomb, what’s yours?»

Afp / Getty Images / Via zmeinogorsk.ru

In addition, she served as an alternate delegate to the Connecticut’s Democratic caucus and reportedly supported both Fidel Castro and the civil rights movement. Even before her marriage to Miller, she was warned to stop reading «radical» books on set, such as the autobiography of muckraker Lincoln Steffens.


In order to marry Arthur Miller, Marilyn converted to Judaism.

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Lee Strasberg gave her away at her wedding.


Frank Sinatra gifted Marilyn a Maltese terrier she named Mafia (nicknamed Maf).

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Maf was Marilyn’s companion until her death.


Monroe was committed to a psychiatric ward shortly after separating from her third husband Arthur Miller due to her insomnia and unrest.

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However, she was soon locked in a padded room and spent a few days struggling to get herself released. Growing desperate, she used a technique she remembered from her first film Don’t Bother to Knock (pictured above), where she played a disturbed babysitter, and threw a chair against a window to break glass, threatening to harm herself if they didn’t change their treatment. When her second husband Joe DiMaggio learned of her hospitalization, he rushed to remove her from the ward.


At the time of her death, Monroe reportedly had a library of 400 books.

Sylvia Beach / Via target.com

Titles included Ulysses by James Joyce and Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. She was an avid reader of novels and poetry, with Vanity Fair calling them a «lifeline.» She also wrote constantly, mostly reflecting on her own life. She also reportedly took literature classes at UCLA.


There were a number of suspicious circumstances surrounding her death by barbiturate overdose. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the first police officer to arrive on the scene believed it was murder, and the coroner who signed the death certificate did so under duress.

The Chicago Tribune / Via cia.gov

Conspiracy theories also come from the fact that no pills were found in Monroe’s stomach, suggesting the barbiturates were injected. In addition, Monroe was found holding a telephone. Private notes also revealed she was afraid of Peter Lawford, JFK’s brother-in-law, who was the last person to speak with her on the phone.

However, a 1982 inquiry by the LA District Attorney revealed no evidence to back up claims of murder.


In her will, Marilyn left 25% of her assets to her psychiatrist, Dr. Marilyn Kris. She said the money should be used «for the furtherance of the work of such psychiatric institution or group as she shall elect.»

Joe Klamar / Getty Images

After Kris died, the share given to her from Monroe went to the Anna Freud Centre for the Psychoanalytic Study and Treatment of Children in London.


But she left most of her estate to her acting coach Lee Strasberg and his wife Paula, who had been like parents to her.

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Monroe had a number of people she saw as parental figures, including her psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson. His sessions with her could last up to five hours, and he often had her over his house in an unorthodox form of therapy that has been since discredited.


She specified in her will that she wanted her possessions to go to loved ones. However, the items ended up in storage. And after Strasberg’s death, his second wife Anna had the items auctioned off.

Scott Nelson / Getty Images

Her iconic “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress went for over $1 million. Additionally, Anna Strasberg has also hired companies to license Marilyn Monroe products, making millions of dollars over the years.


At the auction, Mariah Carey actually bought a piano Marilyn owned and cherished because it had belonged to her mother.

Henny Ray Abrams / Getty Images, Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images

She paid more than more than $600,000.


Marilyn’s second husband, Joe DiMaggio, had roses left on her grave twice a week for 20 years.

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According to PBS, DiMaggio and Monroe spent a lot of time together in her last few years, and DiMaggio told his friends they were going to get remarried. When she died, DiMaggio planned her funeral, refusing to allow the studio executives and producers to attend. He told them, «If it wasn’t for them, she’d still be here.»


When married actors Michael Irving and Veronica Hamel bought Monroe’s home in the 1970s, they discovered «a sophisticated, government grade eavesdropping and telephone tapping system that extended into every room of the house.»

Mel Bouzad / Getty Images

Although this has never been explained, many (including friend Jane Russell) believe it had something to do with Monroe’s alleged affair with then-president John F. Kennedy, providing further fodder for conspiracy theories.


In 1992, Hugh Hefner paid $75,000 to buy the crypt next to Marilyn’s.

Charley Gallay / Getty Images

He felt it was symbolic to «spend eternity with her,» despite the fact that they had never met. His connection to her was that he’d paid $500 for old nude photos she’d taken when she was strapped for money, using them for the first issue of Playboy, but without asking her permission. Due to this fact, many found it inappropriate that he was buried next to her after his death in 2017.


And finally, though many think of Elton John’s «Candle in the Wind» as a memorial to Princess Diana, it was originally written about Marilyn.


The lyrics were changed to better fit the late princess.

Happy birthday Marilyn — may your memory never be forgotten!

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