She’s synonymous with sex, glitz and glam. In the 1950s, her inimitable charm infatuated the nation. Every man wanted her and every woman wanted to be her.
Marilyn Monroe. Born Norma Jean Mortenson, Monroe overcame a nightmarish childhood before becoming the world’s most enduring screen sensation. A feminist icon in her own way, she showed young women all over the world they could triumph over the worst and turn their wildest dreams into a reality. Although she was constantly typecast as the dumb blonde, Monroe possessed much more depth. Unfortunately, her beauty masked her intellect and kept her from being taken seriously in Hollywood.
Today, over 50 years since her untimely death, her fame lives on through her films. In fact, her stardom hasn’t waned one bit. She’s actually become more famous, if that’s possible.
What is the mystique that makes Monroe magnetic? It’s more than her breathy voice and voluptuous figure. Monroe had an innate vulnerability that burned through the camera. This made her relatable to women — a facet to connect to that outweighed her intangible beauty. In her short 36 years of life, she left an everlasting imprint on Hollywood history. As her 90th birthday approaches on June 1, let’s look back at her five most memorable performances.
1. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Set sail on a transatlantic cruise with vivaciously wise showgirls Lorelei and Dorothy in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. They’ll dazzle you all night long singing about men, love and money. Monroe shines in the role that rocketed her to the top, giving her iconic performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” that’s just as spectacular now as it was then.
2. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Scheme with three girls of modest means looking for love in New York City. Between the comedy and the clothes in How to Marry a Millionaire, you’ll get wrapped up in their plan to land a man with millions. Monroe gives her best comedic performance, stealing every scene she’s in as the near-blind beauty with a sense of humor.
3. The Seven Year Itch (1955)
In The Seven Year Itch, you can cool off during a NYC heat wave with a comically neurotic man and the gorgeous blonde who lives above him. While his wife’s away, the man’s mind is at play with uproarious fantasies fueled by his infatuation for the girl. Monroe tickles and tantalizes with every word as the lovable airhead in the screen adaption of this stage riot.
4. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Go undercover with two male musicians who disguise themselves as women to join an all-female jazz band. Things heat up in Some Like It Hot when they get friendly with the band’s sexy lead singer, Sugar, who’s searching for love. Monroe shakes and shimmies her way into your heart as the bubbly entertainer in the number one comedy of all time.
5. Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)
Open the door to a dark story about a mysterious babysitter and the handsome airline pilot interested in her in Don’t Bother to Knock. As he pursues her, he slowly realizes she’s actually dangerous. In her most dramatic role, Monroe is superb as a woman trying to escape a troubled past, portraying a depth to her sympathy that makes you see past her physique.
Monroe once remarked during her career, “I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.” She certainly was. Monroe still remains the ultimate icon as new generations of young girls fall in love with her every day.
What’s your favorite Marilyn Monroe performance? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.