Marilyn Monroe - Actress, Singer and Model

Marilyn Monroe - Actress, Singer and Model

Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer and model. Known for playing many roles as a funny and sexy blonde, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 50s and 60s and an emblem of the sexual revolution of the time.

A leading actress for a decade, she remains a major icon of popular culture even after her death. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her sixth on its list of the greatest female screen legends of Hollywood's golden age. In 2009, The Guardian named her as one of the best actresses to have never been nominated for an Oscar.

But beyond the blonde roles and her formidable sex appeal, Marilyn Monroe was a woman who was interested in society, politics, as well as a great activist for women's rights at a time when they had so few. Unfortunately, this aspect of the actress was not of much interest to the male-dominated Hollywood industry, and some of the sometimes exaggerated aspects of her story, such as her reputation as a "dumb blonde" or the mystery surrounding her death, have often overshadowed those of her legacy.

Marilyn Monroe was a proto-feminist. In other words, she was ahead of her time and championed feminism long before the term was popularized. She was a strong and vulnerable woman, she didn't back down from anything, fought for what she believed in, and managed to forge an identity for herself in a patriarchal Hollywood.

She believed that every woman should have her own rights and freedom, that every woman was beautiful no matter what her shape. She never stopped fighting to inspire them to speak up, to become leaders and to accept themselves as they are.

"To all the girls that think you’re fat because you’re not a size zero, you’re the beautiful one, its society who’s ugly."

Despite her appearance as a beautiful and confident woman, and the "body positive" she wished on all women, behind the scenes she felt self-conscious and had little confidence. She spent much of her life battling her complexes and low self-esteem, as well as several mental health issues caused by her difficult childhood, moving from foster home to foster home because her mentally ill mother could not care for her. Instead of learning from this, the world glorified her sadness and turned her into an amazing icon of glamour and misery, who wanted to rebuild herself and instill in society a love and respect for women and gender equality.

Because she was such a complex character, she often found herself caught between two types of women: those who were disgusted or intimidated by her glamour and wanted her to tone down that aspect of herself, and those who loved her appearance as it was and wanted her to stop trying to be taken seriously. In 1959, Monroe spoke out on the subject:"I’d like to be known as a real actress and human being, but listen, there’s nothing wrong with glamour either. I think everything adds up. I’ll never knock glamour. But I want to be in the kind of pictures where I can develop, not just wear tights."

In 1954, Marilyn Monroe founded her own film production company. She spent the next year building the company and began studying acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, one of the most renowned acting schools in the world. Later that year, Fox gave her a new contract that gave her more control and a larger salary. Her subsequent roles include her critically acclaimed performance in "Bus Stop" (1956) and her first independent production, "The Prince and the Showgirl" (1957). She also won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in "Some Like It Hot" (1959), a film that was both a critical and commercial success.

Made politically aware by her relationship with her third husband, Arthur Miller, which ended in divorce in 1961, she participated in rallies to protest the violation of civil liberties caused by anti-communist fervor, with Shelley Winters, a former roommate. She was once reprimanded for reading a "radical" biography of Lincoln Steffens on a film set. Having been raised with a more progressive view of "race," Monroe also became a civil rights activist.

In 1960, she was elected as an alternate delegate to the Connecticut State Democratic Convention, a largely honorary position, but she did not attend the rally.

She once told reporters, "My nightmare is the H-bomb. What's yours?", and so it's no surprise that she decides to get involved in the Hollywood branch of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, also known as SANE, bringing together pacifists and anti-nuclear activists, and charged with stimulating debate on the dangers of nuclear power.

Marilyn Monroe was also known to her friends for her generosity and her ability to help others whenever she could, offering her time to several charities.

In 1955, enlisted by Jane Russell, another American film actress and beauty icon of the time, Monroe worked with WAIF, an organization that placed abandoned children in homes. She was very sensitive to this cause, having lived in foster homes herself.

Also sensitive to the cause of children, she supported The Milk Fund for Babies, a charity that made infant milk available to poor neighborhoods in New York City, and worked with the March of Dimes, a foundation dedicated to improving the health of babies.

In 1962, she visited an orphanage in Mexico and donated $10,000.

Her last public appearance was in 1962 at a benefit for muscular dystrophy.

She also donated some of her belongings and gave money to people in need. She gave a valuable fur coat to a drama teacher, and donated a pair of earrings she wore to the world premiere of her film, "The Prince and the Showgirl," to The Milk Fund for Babies. In addition, friends often discovered that Marilyn had sent them items that she had apparently purchased for herself.

This generosity continued even after his death. Her last and most important gift was in her will. Although the bulk of her estate went to Lee Strasberg, her teacher at the Actor Studio, she left 25% to her psychiatrist, Dr. Marianne Kris, to be used, in Marilyn's own words, "to further the work of psychiatric institutions or groups of her choice. Knowing Marilyn's difficult childhood and her great love for children, Kris donated her share to the Anna Freud Centre in London, a center for research, training and treatment of children's mental health, and a cause that Marilyn would certainly have been proud to support.

Her overwhelming celebrity sometimes took precedence over her deeply sincere humanitarian actions, and her worldwide recognition stands the test of time. Her posters still sell, her name still gets people talking and her role as a cultural icon is undeniable. But behind her pin-up appearance and her sex symbol image lies a strong, militant, big-hearted woman who was broken by life but never gave up, and who is now waiting for the light to come out of the shadows.