12 Things You Didn’t Know About Marilyn Monroe

Jason Bacchetta

September 10, 2018

Marilyn Monroe is one of the most highly searched authors on our site, and for good reason. The American actress, model and singer was an iconic bombshell who rose to fame in the 1950’s, and still to this day remains a recognizable figure.

While her quotes are entertaining, to say the least, there’s a lot more to Monroe than just her one-liners. To illustrate, here are 12 things you might not know about her.

1.  Her Birth Name

Monroe was born with the name, Norma Jeane Mortenson. Marilyn Monroe was originally pegged as her stage name, although she would eventually go on to make it her official name. The first name was suggested by Ben Lyon, a 20th Century-Fox executive who was inspired by Broadway star Marilyn Miller. The last name was selected by Monroe, after her mother’s maiden name. Before settling, the screen name Jean Adair was also considered.

2. She Lived In An Orphanage

Although not technically an orphan (she never knew her father and her mother was institutionalized), Monroe spent a year living in the Hollygrove Home For Children. She was also placed with 11 sets of foster parents.

3. Her First Marriage Was Arranged

Monroe would end up living with a family friend for awhile until the family moved across country, unable to bring Monroe with them. Rather than having Monroe turned back over to an orphanage at the age of 16, Monroe married a neighbor, 20-year-old James Dougherty.

4. She Was An Intellectual

Her glamorous lifestyle and her status as a sex symbol is well established. But Monroe seemed to be more interested in acquiring knowledge than anything else. She didn’t own much jewelry. Instead she shopped for literature, amassing a personal library of over 400 books from authors such as Tolstoy, Whitman, and Milton.

She also had a thing for intelligent men. Abraham Lincoln was her hero. According to former roommate and actress Shelley Winters, her and Monroe once made a list of men they wanted to sleep with. Nobody under 50 was on Monroe’s list. Albert Einstein was, however.

5. She Became A Good Cook, Eventually

Winters had another gem to share about Monroe — apparently, cooking wasn’t her forte. Winters once asked the actress to prep lettuce so that they could make salad, only to find Monroe washing individual lettuce leafs with a Brillo pad.

But when several of Monroe’s recipes were discovered after her death, The New York Times gave her Thanksgiving stuffing recipe a try, afterwards concluding that “she not only cooked, but cooked confidently and with flair.”

6. Her Looks

Monroe was known for her curves, but those came with age. In high school, her nickname was “Norma Jean, the Human Stringbean.”

And medical records show that she had two plastic surgeries: a tip rhinoplasty and a chin implant. The operations were supposedly arranged and paid for by her agent, Johnny Hyde.

7. Conspiracy Theories Related To Her Death

Monroe’s death was officially ruled a “probable suicide”. Toxicology tests on her liver seem to confirm that. But when other organs were requested for testing, the deputy coroner, Thomas Noguchi, was told they’d been destroyed.

Some of Monroe’s friends believe she was murdered, with conspiracy theorists naming John F. Kennedy, Salvatore “Sam” Giancana, and the government, among others, as potential suspects.

Adding to the mystery, a system of wire-taps was reportedly discovered in Monroe’s house after her death.

8. Everything She Touches Turns to Gold

Tommy Hilfiger purchased a pair of Monroe’s jeans for $37,000. The dress Monroe wore while singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” sold for $1.2 million. And the famous Seven Year Itch dress sold for a whopping $4.6 million.

Even the burial vaults around Marilyn’s have been put up for sale at astronomical prices, with one being owned by Hugh Hefner, and another — the space above hers — attracting bids of up to $4.6 million on eBay.

9. The “Subway Scene” And Her Divorce

Monroe was only married to Joe DiMaggio for 274 days. While a variety of issues contributed to the divorce, the last straw was supposedly the Seven Year Itch “subway scene” in which the breeze blows Monroe’s white dress up, exposing her legs to a large crowd of media and bystanders.

Despite their fallout, DiMaggio remained in love with Monroe. For two decades after her death, DiMaggio had flowers delivered to Monroe’s grave twice a week.

10. Monroe Helped Change the Course of Ella Fitzgerald’s Career

Ella Fitzgerald was originally denied in her attempt to play at the popular Hollywood nightclub, Mocambo. The owner didn’t believe Fitzgerald was glamorous enough.

After promising to sit in the front row every night for a week, Monroe was able to convince management to give Fitzgerald a chance.

“After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again,” Fitzgerald said.

11. She Was Never Nominated For An Academy Award

It’s true. Although Monroe’s acting career was critically-acclaimed, she was never nominated for an Academy Award. She did win a Golden Globe, though. And she was voted “Miss Artichoke” in a beauty contest, “Oomph Girl” in high school, and “Miss Cheesecake” in Stars and Stripes magazine.

She was also named “The Most Advertised Girl in the World” by the Advertising Association of the West, with brands such as American Airlines, Coca-Cola, and Pabst Beer looking to ride the coattails of Monroe’s success.

12. She was Playboy Magazine’s First “Playmate of the Month”

Marilyn Monroe was Playboy magazine’s “Sweethheart of the Month” — later known as “Playmate of the Month” — in December, 1953. She was paid $50 for the modeling gig, and Hugh Hefner bought the picture for $500.