Netflix’s ‘Blonde‘ movie stars Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in a fictional telling of the Hollywood icon’s life. 

Early life and career: 

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, and later called Norma Jeane Baker, Monroe’s career saw her early image as a dumb and seductive blonde transform into that of a tragic woman struggling to deal with the pressures of stardom. 

Starting off as a photographer’s model, the actor took on the stage name Marilyn Monroe after landing a short-term contract with Twentieth Century Fox.  Some of Monroe’s stardom came from films like ‘The Asphalt Jungle’, where she had an uncredited role, but began to receive a lot of fan mail for it. 

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In 1953, Monroe’s picture appeared in the very first edition of the Playboy magazine, and soon after, her face appeared in several popular movies like ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ and ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’. She quickly became an object of adulation, and Monroe’s marriage to baseball star Joe DiMaggio was a publicity-fuelled affair. The two split less than a year later and Monroe began to grow disenchanted with her life.

However, the actor would go on to emerge as a notable comedian for roles in ‘Bus Stop’ and ‘The Seven Year Itch’. Monroe briefly retired from moviemaking after marrying noted playwright Arthur Miller. ‘Some Like It Hot’ saw her being recognized as a serious actor, and Monroe’s last film was ‘The Misfits’, which was written by Miller for her specifically. The two, however, ended up divorcing in 1961. 

Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy: 

‘Blonde’, which mixes fact and fiction, delves into Monroe’s private and professional life, which was often controversial. One of the persistent scandals following the actor was her alleged rumour with former US President John F Kennedy. Monroe’s rendition of “Happy Birthday, Mr President”, in her skin-tight gown, encrusted in rhinestones, became a culturally significant moment, sparking theories of the duo dating. The gown, recently, has reentered public discourse after Kim Kardashian wore it to the Met Gala 2022

However, the theories of Monroe and Kennedy being romantically involved are mostly unfounded, except for an account from Ralph Roberts, Monroe’s close friend and masseur, as quoted in biographer Donald Spoto’s book on the icon. “Marilyn told me that this night in March was the only time of her ‘affair’ with JFK”, Roberts said, adding, “A great many people thought, after that weekend, that there was more to it. But Marilyn gave me the impression that it was not a major event for either of them: it happened once, that weekend, and that was that.”

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Susan Strasberg, the actor and daughter of Lee Strasberg, with whom Monroe had studied, noted in her unpublished memoir, “It was O.K. to sleep with a charismatic president and Marilyn loved the secrecy and the drama of it, but Kennedy was not the kind of man she wanted to spend her life with, and she made that very clear”, as per Vanity Fair. 

Monroe, during her performance at Madison Square Gardens, transitioned to singing “Thanks for the Memory”, which she’d penned for JFK. While being introduced at the event, Monroe was referred to as “late” which was to indicate the actor’s habit of showing up to events after the slated time. However, seeing as Monroe died a few months later, it became oddly foreshadowing. 

Marilyn Monroe’s death:

Monroe died on August 4, at the age of 36, and the toxicology reports showed high levels of chloral hydrate in her blood. This was deemed to be from sleeping pills and the barbiturate Nembutal. The actor, who had a troubled childhood, and struggles with stardom had a history of substance abuse. The official certificate says “probable suicide”, but there have been several theories about the star’s death, linking it to the affair with Kennedy. 

‘Blonde’ when it arrives on September 23, will shine a light on some of the mysteries in the life of the icon who won the world’s adoration.