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There Was the Icon Marilyn and Person Beneath, Norma Jeane

Marilyn Monroe was found dead of a barbiturate overdose in the early morning hours of Sunday, August 5th, 1962, at her Los Angeles home.

A major sex symbol and one of the most popular Hollywood actresses during the 1950s and early 1960s, her films had grossed over $200 million by the time of her death.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage. While working in a factory in 1944 as part of the war effort, she was introduced to a photographer and began a successful pin-up modeling career.

That work then led to film contracts with Twentieth Century-Fox where Monroe became famous for playing comic “blonde bombshell” characters in movies like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire.

Monroe’s troubled private life received much attention in the press.

She struggled with substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Her second and third marriages, to retired baseball star Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, respectively, were highly publicized and both ended in divorce.

Monroe had suffered from mental illness and substance abuse for several years prior to her death, and she had not completed a film since The Misfits.

According to various accounts, she had spent 1961 preoccupied with her various health problems, and in April 1962, had begun filming Something’s Got to Give for 20th Century Fox.

“The studio fired her in early June,” said film historian Danielle Winters. “The studio publicly blamed her for the production’s problems. In the weeks preceding her death, Monroe attempted to repair her public image by giving several interviews to high-profile publications.”

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Monroe spent the last day of her life at her home in Brentwood. She was accompanied at various times by publicist Patricia Newcomb, housekeeper Eunice Murray, photographer Lawrence Schiller, and her psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson.

When Marilyn was found deceased from an apparent overdose of barbiturates by Greenson, the tabloids immediately speculated about what really happened to the iconic actress.

Was her death really a suicide? Or had Marilyn been murdered?

The truth, it seems, is actually much stranger than fiction…