Marilyn Monroe (/ˈmærɪlɪn mənˈroʊ/; born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 – August 4, 1962) was an American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing comedic “blonde bombshell” characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s and was emblematic of the era’s changing attitudes towards sexuality. She was a top-billed actress for only a decade, but her films grossed $200 million (equivalent to $2 billion in 2019) by the time of her death in 1962.Long after her death, she has continued to be a major icon of pop culture.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage and married at age 16. She was working in a factory as part of the war effort during World War II when she met a photographer from the First Motion Picture Unit and began a successful pin-up modeling career, which led to short-lived film contracts with 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures. After a series of minor film roles, she signed a new contract with Fox in late 1950. Over the next two years, she became a popular actress with roles in several comedies, including As Young as You Feel and Monkey Business, and in the dramas Clash by Night and Don’t Bother to Knock. She faced a scandal when it was revealed that she had posed for nude photos before she became a star, but the story did not damage her career and instead resulted in increased interest in her films.