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What was Marilyn Monroe's real name?

Today's Doodle is brought to you by a famous birthday, the one and only Marilyn Monroe, but she wasn't always called Marilyn... nor did she start out with blonde hair.

The woman we know as Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. Norma was given her mother’s name of Baker when she was baptized, becoming Norma Jeane Baker.

Norma's childhood was tumultuous to say the least, with her mother and both maternal grandparents ending up in mental institutions while Norma was still young, forcing her into the foster care system. Norma Jean Baker married James Dougherty in 1942 when she was just 16. James joined the merchant marines and was sent off to fight in WWII. Norma was a factory worker before being discovered by photographer which started her modeling career. She and James divorced after he returned from the war and shortly before she signed a film contract with Fox in 1946. This is when she started dying her hair blonde and going by the name Marilyn Monroe (Monroe was her grandmother's last name).

After a few minor roles, Marilyn went back to modeling to pay bills, including a nude photoshoot she said she regretted but which also ended up bringing more movie rolls her way. These photos would eventually end up in the first Playboy magazine (without her knowledge or consent, but once again boosting her career and fanning her star power).

An appearance in All About Eve in 1950 won her another film contract from Fox along with much recognition. In a succession of movies, including Let’s Make It Legal and Love Nest in 1951,Clash by Night in 1952, and Niagara in 1953, Monroe was a full fledged star and her image as a sex symbol was set. With performances in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), her fame continued to grow steadily and spread throughout the world. In 1954 she married baseball star Joe DiMaggio, however their marriage would last less than a year before they divorced.

Marilyn Monroe earned positive reviews for her more serious roles in Bus Stop (1956), The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) and Some Like It Hot (1959). By 1961, trouble in Monroe’s personal life with her third marriage, to the playwright Arthur Miller, dissolved after four years led to her increasing emotional fragility. She was admitted on two occasions to hospitals for psychiatric observation and rest. Her final film wasThe Misfits (1961), written by Miller and co-starring Montgomery Clift and Clark Gable (it would also be Gable’s final appearance on-screen). In May 1962, Monroe traveled to New York City to attend the gala where she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy. The next month, June 1962, Fox had to fire Monroe after repeated and extended absences from the set of Something’s Got to Give.

Sadly, Monroe's struggles proved too much and on August 5, 1962, she was found dead from an overdose of sleeping pills in her home in Brentwood, California at the age of 36 years old. In the weeks following her death, Andy Warhol created his Marilyn Diptych which would become one of his most famous works. Marilyn Monroe continues to be a pop and fashion icon with IMDB claiming there are over 185 shows and movies with a character portraying Monroe in some form or another.

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