August 5, 1962 – The Day the Fabulous Fifties Died
She was born in the movie capital of the world in 1926 to an unstable, often institutionalized alcoholic mother. She was reared in a succession of foster homes until, at age sixteen, she married a worker at a wartime aircraft factory. After a few years and a divorce, she took up modeling and some acting lessons and by 1946, Norma Jean Mortenson had signed a short-term contract with 20th Century Fox.
Marilyn Monroe was born.
That first studio contract pretty much came to nothing, but when she modeled naked for a calendar in 1949, things began to change.
After some minor roles in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve, this voluptuous, wide-eyed charmer was on her way to making American cultural history. After a string of what we now call buddy movies and rom-coms, Marilyn Monroe emerged as the singular pop-cultural image of the 1950s as far as women and glamour were concerned. To this day, her image populates beauty salons and ladies dressing room walls all over the world, such was the magic Marilyn possessed. Her memorabilia, image, and movies continue to sell respectably well.
Marilyn Monroe, as much as President Ike, the New York Football Giants, and doo-wop music, dominated 1950s culture. She was everywhere all the time.
But mass attention and media hysteria can work on a person's mind. Most of us can function daily because of a sense of who we are, our ego and ID are likely well grounded in a normal youth followed by the typical day-to-day, routine-filled work life we lead. We accomplish big and little material things that show us we're making progress in our lives toward something, whatever it is. We have a good reference of where we are and where we want to be.
In Tinseltown, all glory and admiration are usually shallow and fake. People compliment you and treat you well based on what favors you might do for them. Nothing is real or solid when the game is power and greed.
And so, like many of today's celebrities, Marilyn's private off-screen life found the dark alleyways and gutters of the depths of human greed and manipulation.
Mentioned in sentences and paired in real-life with top athletes, movie stars, politicians, and other celebrities of the day along with some of the most fantastic nightlife the country had to offer, eventually it must have become awfully difficult for a discarded child with a string of foster homes and early marriages in her past to discern what was authentic and what wasn't.
What really made her happy and what hurt her must have all become a confusing blur as the decade sped by.
The 1950s were a lot of James Dean, Elvis Presley, I like Ike, Rosa Parks, The Korean War, The Cold War, cars with fins, and white-hot Marilyn Monroe. A decade of limitless excesses, speed, and glamour.
And all that was found lying naked, face down with a phone in one hand and pills of various sorts spilled around the Hollywood Bungalow on the morning of August 5, 1962.
Rest in Peace, Marilyn Monroe.