Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson in 1926. She starred in many popular films, was married to and divorced from both Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio, and died of an overdose of barbiturates in 1962. Nevertheless, interest in her life and her story continues in popular culture and in feminist studies.
Select Marilyn Monroe Quotations
• I wanted to be treated as a human being who had earned a few rights since her orphanage days.
• It's nice to be included in people's fantasies but you also like to be accepted for your own sake.
• I think that when you are famous every weakness is exaggerated.
• I'm very definitely a woman and I enjoy it.
• I don't mind living in a man's world as long as I can be a woman in it.
• People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person. They didn't see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts, then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one.
• I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.
• To a reporter: Please don't make me a joke. End the interview with what I believe. I don't mind making jokes, but I don't want to look like one.
• Fame is like caviar, you know -- it's good to have caviar but not when you have it at every meal.
• If fame goes by, so long, I've had you, fame. If it goes by, I've always known it was fickle. So at least it's something I experienced, but that's not where I live.
• It stirs up envy, fame does.
• Seeing your name in front page headlines as if you were some kind of a major accident or gun battle is always startling. No matter how often you see it you don't get used to it. You keep thinking-"That's about me. The whole country's reading about me. Maybe the world is.
• I've been on a calendar, but never on time.
• I am invariably late for appointments ... sometimes, as much as two hours. I've tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.
• I restore myself when I'm alone.
• This life is what you make it. No matter what, you're going to mess up sometimes, it's a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you're going to mess it up.
• People respect you because they feel you've survived hard times and endured, and although you've become famous, you haven't become phony.
• The worst thing that happens to people when they dress up and go to a party is that they leave their real selves at home. They're like people on a stage playing somebody else. They play that they're important, and they want you to meet their importance, not themselves.
• The truth is I've never fooled anyone. I've let people fool themselves. They didn't bother to find out who and what I was.
• Creativity has got to start with humanity and when you're a human being, you feel, you suffer.
• I'm for the individual as opposed to the corporation. The way it is the individual is the underdog, and with all the things a corporation has going for them the individual comes out banged on her head. The artist is nothing. It's really tragic.
• [about reading Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet] I was never told what to read, and nobody ever gave me anything to read. You know -- the way there are certain books that everybody reads while they're growing up? . . . So what I do is -- nights when I've got nothing else to do I go to the Pickwick bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard. And I just open books at random -- or when I come to a page or a paragraph I like, I buy that book. So last night I bought this one. Is that wrong?
• Arthur Miller wouldn't have married me if I had been nothing but a dumb blonde.
About Her Childhood
• I learned also that the best way to keep out of trouble was by never complaining or asking for anything.
• At twelve I looked like a girl of seventeen. My body was developed and shapely. But no one knew this but me. I still wore the blue dress and the blouse the orphanage provided. They made me look like an overgrown lummox.
• (about Norma Jean, her childhood self) With success all around me, I can still feel her frightened eyes looking out of mine. She keeps saying, "I never lived, I was never loved," and often I get confused and think it's I who am saying it.
• I watched the faces of the listeners when the minister would cry out how much God loved them and how much they needed to set themselves right with God. They were faces without any argument in them, just tired faces that were glad to hear Somebody loved them.