This blog contains some of my favourite images of Marilyn from childhood through to the end of her life. I've included lesser known photographs that reveal the person behind the public image as well as popular iconic shots.
Norma Jeane Mortenson was born on 1 June 1926 in Los Angeles. Her mother mispelled her husband's surname which was actually Mortensen. However, Marilyn didn't know who her real father was.
Gladys struggled to cope and Marilyn was placed in a foster home shortly after she was born. Initially Gladys was able to live with the foster family but her job meant that she had to move closer to her workplace in the city. She left Marilyn with the family and visited her at weekends. In 1934 Gladys had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed with paranoid schozophrenia.
These unfortunate circumstances meant that Marilyn spent her childhood moving in and out of foster homes and orphanages.
This photo booth picture is from 1938 when she was 12 years old.
Marilyn's first marriage was to Jimmy Dougherty when she was 16. She married him a few days after her birthday to avoid being sent back to an orphanage, dropping out of school to become a housewife.
Jimmy served in the Merchant Marine during World War II while Marilyn worked in a munitions factory. In 1944 she was discovered by Army photographer David Conover who went to the factory to take morale-boosting pictures of female workers.
Marilyn gave up the job in 1945 and embarked on the modelling career that was the catalyst to changing her name (Gladys' maiden name was Monroe.)
These images show a brunette Norma Jeane who hasn't yet morphed into the blonde superstar.
Andres de Dienes' shots from 1946 show a different side to Marilyn. She was photographed at Malibu beach without any make up.
He also took these photographs of Marilyn in 1949 at Tobay Beach, Long Island.
Marilyn's modelling work led to some minor film roles until she got her big break with 20th Century Fox in 1951. This photograph from the same year shows the emergence of the blonde bombshell.
Phillipe Halsman took this shot of Marilyn in 1952 - the metamorphosis into a sex symbol was complete!
By 1953 she was a popular movie star with leading roles in Niagra, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire. This lovely picture is from the set of Niagra.
The classic 'Diamond are a Girls' Best Friend' scene from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
With How to Marry a Millionaire co-star Lauren Bacall.
Marilyn was briefly married to former baseball player Joe Di Maggio in 1954. The ceremony took place at San Francisco Ciy Hall.
In September of 1954 Marilyn filmed a scene for The Seven Year Itch on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The subway air blowing up her dress created one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century, but sadly for Marilyn it was the final nail in the coffin of her marriage. Always prone to jealousy, Di Maggio flew into a rage about the stunt and left her a month later.
I love the photographs that Milton Greene took of Marilyn in 1955 which show a playful personality.
These favourites of mine were also taken in 1955 by Eve Arnold. She's reading James Joyce's Ulyssess - so much for the dumb blonde stereotype!
In 1958 Marilyn made Some Like It Hot, gaining a Best Actress Golden Globe for the role when it was released in 1959.
Marilyn died at the age of 36 in August 1962. This relaxed photograph was taken by George Barris just two months before her death.