Marylin Monroe, an icon of style: from the new Netflix series to art exhibitions

Marylin Monroe, an icon of style: from the new Netflix series to art exhibitions

Marilyn Monroe: the origins of a myth which became a legend

The unforgettable and unforgotten Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic figures in history, and her unique and unmistakable style has inspired generations of women.

Symbol of elegance and femininity, emblem of sensuality and beauty, the last true diva of Hollywood cinema. Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker, was an actress, singer, model and film producer.

Norma Jeane was born on the 1st of June, 1926, at 9:30 AM at the General Hospital in Los Angeles, and her mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe, only managed to recover because of money-raising.

Gladys, daughter of Della Mae Hogan and Otis Elmer Monroe, was a lonely woman with a fragile psychic balance and with two failed marriages. In 1917, at the age of sixteen, she married Jasper Newton “Jap” Baker, with whom she had two children before divorcing him in 1922, due to his continued violence. After her divorce, Gladys remarried in 1924 to a Norwegian immigrant named Martin Edward Mortensen, but when she found out she was expecting her third child, the two had already separated.

Although the surname Mortenson appears on Marilyn’s birth certificate, later christened Baker so to prevent it from being declared illegitimate, biographers agree that Norma Jeane’s biological father is not Martin Edward but Charles Stanley Gifford, a co-worker with whom Gladys was romantically involved. According to historians, Gifford left Gladys as soon as the woman informed him of his pregnancy.

Although Gladys was mentally and financially unprepared to take care of a child, Norma Jeane’s early childhood was stable and happy. The woman decided to entrust her daughter to the care of Wayne and Ida Bolender, a very religious couple who lived in the city of Hawthorne southwest of Los Angeles and looked after foster children for money. Norma Jeane lived with the Bolenders until the age of seven and was then entrusted to an English couple before returning to live with her mother.

A few months after their reunion, Gladys suffered from a nervous breakdown caused by debt and some family problems. She was hospitalized and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She lost custody of Norma Jeane, who was entrusted first to Grace Mckee, film archivist at Columbia Pictures and Gladys’s best friend, and then to the Children’s Home Society orphanage in Los Angeles.

During her years in the institution, Norma Jeane was placed in foster care and transferred from one family to another, where she suffered violence, carelessness and probably even abuse.

Marylin Monroe: from success to the mystery of her death

In the early 1940s, Norma Jeane returned to live with Grace and went to Emerson Junior High School and Van Nuys High School, where she met James Dougherty, whom she married on the 19th of June 1942, at the age of 16.

After the wedding, the future Marilyn Monroe decided to drop out of school to devote herself to married life. In 1944, when James enlisted in the merchant navy, she went with him to Santa Catalina Island. That same year, James left for the Pacific, and Norma Jeane moved to Los Angeles with her mother-in-law, where she began to work at the Radio Plane aeronautical industry, unaware that the factory itself would be her springboard to a career as a model.

In June 1945, she met David Conover, a photographer engaged in documenting women’s work at Radio Plane, who urged her to pursue a modelling career. A few months later, Norma Jeane decides to separate from her husband, starts working as a model, lightened her hair and conquered the covers of several magazines and newspapers, including Family Circle, Film d’oggi, Cinemonde and Los Angeles Time.

Even the cinema couldn’t resist her charm and in the summer of 1946, with the signing of her first film contract with Fox, the doors of Hollywood opened. In those years, the director Ben Lyon suggested to Norma Jeane to change her name: she then became Marilyn Monroe.

The consecration came in 1953 when Marilyn starred in Niagara, a film directed by Henry Hathaway.

That same year, she starred in the films: Gentlemen prefer blondes, where she sang the famous songs Bye Bye Baby and Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend and How to marry a millionaire that definitively projects her in the Olympus of the most loved and desired stars by the audience.

In 1954, at the San Francisco City Hall, Marilyn married the famous baseball player Joe Dimaggio, and won the Henrietta Award at the Golden Globe as “best actress in the world”. The next year, she starred in the film When the wife is on vacation and, and after a furious fight, she puts an end to her relationship with Dimaggio after just nine months of marriage. Later, he was briefly Frank Sinatra’s mistress.

In 1956 she was on the set of Bus Stop, and in the summer of that same year, she married the writer Arthur Miller known at the time from the film The Charming Liar. The following year, she received the David di Donatello for “best foreign actress” from the hands of Anna Magnani at the Institute of Italian Culture in New York, and in 1958, she returned to captivating audiences and critics with the film Some like it hot which received six Academy Awards nominations in 1960 and earned the actress a Golden Globe.

On November 11th, 1960, she was married to Arthur Miller, from whom she divorced in January of the following year while on the set of the film Spouse, a classic of the 20th century.

Marilyn Monroe’s final years were marked by her addiction to alcohol and psychotropic drugs, continued hospitalization, and her relationship with the 35th president of the United States of America John Fitzgerald Kennedy, followed by his brother Robert Kennedy. The figure of JFK is linked to an episode destined to remain long imprinted in the collective memory: the sensual interpretation of Happy Birthday, Mr President, sung by the actress at Madison Square Garden in front of about 15,000 people. During the memorable performance, the Monroe wore a long, tight-fitting, flesh-coloured chiffon dress, embellished with rhinestones embroidered in a rosette pattern and featuring a deep neckline on the back.

Marilyn Monroe was found dead in the bedroom of her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, on August 5th, 1962, at the age of thirty-six. The mystery of her death has never been entirely clarified: officially it was an overdose of barbiturates, but some support the hypothesis of suicide or even murder.

Marilyn Monroe: the diva protagonist of art exhibitions and TV series

Nominated “Sexiest Woman of the Twentieth Century” in 1999 by People magazine, the femme fatale of cinema and inspiring muse of great artists, Marilyn Monroe was, according to Marlene Dietrich, the first true sex symbol.

If Marilyn has become immortal, the credit is also due to Andy Warhol who transformed her face into a symbolic work of Pop Art. The famous colour screen printing, consisting of nine modules of 91.5 x 91.5 cm, is one of over one hundred graphic works included in the large exhibition hosted, from July 1st to September 1st, 2020, in the Sala Baldacchino of the Hotel Castello at Forte Village Resort, a stone’s throw from the beautiful sea of Sardinia.

In addition to the artworks, all originally signed by the American master, the curator of the exhibition Mario Mazzoleni, owner of Art Events Mazzoleni, also presented a series of memorabilia belonging to Warhol, including the guitar of Michael Jackson, that of the Beatles signed by all the members of the British group, that of the Rolling Stones and Diana Ross.

Today, the story of the most acclaimed and desired woman in the world returns to the screens with Blonde, a film based on the novel holding the same title, by Joyce Carol Oates.

The film, coming to Netflix in 2021, produced by Plan B Entertainment and directed by Andrew Dominik, is an imaginary portrait of the actress and boasts an exceptional cast with Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe, Adrien Brody (Arthur Miller), Bobby Cannavale (Joe Dimaggio), Julianne Nicholson (Gladys) Caspar Phillipson (John F. Kennedy), Toby Huss (Whitey), Sara Paxton (Miss Flynn), David Warshofsky (Mr Z), Evan Williams (Eddy), Xavier Samuel (Cass), Garret Dillahunt, Scoot Mcnairy, Lucy Devito, Michael Masini (Tony Curtis), Spencer Garrett (President’s Pimp), Chris Lemmon, Rebecca Wisocky (Yvet), Ned Bellamy (Doc Fell) and Dan Butler.

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