Playboy magazine named Marilyn Monroe the "#1 Sex Star" of the 20th century in 1999. People magazine named her "Sexiest Woman of the Century" the same year. She is the most written-about (over 600 books at last count) movie actress in history.
Her movies, including Some Like It Hot, The Seven Year Itch, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Bus Stop are now considered classic and continue to be shown routinely on television and sell big time on video and DVD.
We see her everywhere: on magazine covers, posters, t-shirts, coffee mugs, dolls in her image, perfume bottles, porcelain statues, and on and on. Sure, Meryl Streep is the more acclaimed actress, but when was the last time you saw someone buy a Meryl Streep poster?
Okay, let's take a look at 14 things you may not have known about the movies' greatest-ever sex symbol -Marilyn Monroe.
1. Marilyn spent much of her childhood in various foster homes and the Los Angeles Orphans Home (later renamed Hollygrove), although she was never an orphan. A tomboy, Norma Jean was the top player on the Hollygrove softball team.
2. It took her a few years to develop her world-famous figure. At Van Nuys High School, her nickname was "Norma Jean, the Human Stringbean."
3. She was voted "Miss Artichoke" in 1947 in a beauty contest in Castroville, California, "the Artichoke Capital of the World."
4. According to her first husband, James Dougherty, she had a great love for animals. Once, she tried to bring a cow inside their home to get it out of the rain.
5. Fearing blemishes, she washed her face 15 times a day.
6. She changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in 1946, but didn't legally change it until February 23, 1956. The fist time someone asked her for her autograph, she had to ask how "Marilyn" was spelled. She didn't know where the "i" went.
7. As a young actress, she roomed with actress Shelley Winters for a while. One day, for a lark, Marilyn and Shelley decided to each write a list of "sexiest guys in the world." Shelley, predictably, wrote the names Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, etc. When Marilyn showed Shelley her list, it included Albert Einstein and Jerry Lewis!
8. A natural light brunette, she tried nine different shades of blonde hair color before finally settling on her trademark platinum. The first time she was a platinum blonde was in her 1952 film Monkey Business with Cary Grant.
9. Although often thought of as a "dumb blonde," Marilyn had a personal library of over 400 books, including Tolstoy, Whitman, and Milton. (Producer Kent Morgan now owns her Bible.)
10. She married her third husband, writer Arthur Miller, twice; first in a civil ceremony and the second time in a Jewish wedding. She converted to Judaism to marry Miller.
11. The dress she wore in her last-ever public appearance where she sang "Happy Birthday Mister President" to JFK was so tight that she had to be sewn into it. The dress sold for $1,267,500 at auction.
12. As a little girl, she had a pet dog named Tippy. In her last-ever film, the unfinished Something's Got To Give, she owns a dog named Tippy.
13. She was Playboy magazine's first-ever "Sweetheart of the Month" in December of 1953. This was the precursor to the later "Playmate of the Month." Hugh Hefner actually bought the crypt next to Marilyn's at Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery.
14. After her death, her second husband, baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, ordered two dozen roses placed on her crypt twice a week "forever." Joe stopped sending the roses after twenty years because fans kept stealing them.