Marilyn Monroe took the sex-symbol ideal to a new level during her short, and tragic life. She will always be remembered as America's first, bona-fide sex symbol having starred in numerous Hollywood movies and posing nude for national men's magazines. She may not have been the first actress or entertainer to use her sex to make a name for herself, but she was the first to do it in the modern media age, where she was visible to most of the country.
Born on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California, Monroe had natural beauty and talent from the beginning although her childhood was marked by tragedy. She was born to an unwed mother who was unable to care for her child because of her mental and financial instability. Monroe was placed in foster homes, where she lived with different families throughout most of her childhood. She never knew who her biological father was. She even thought for a time that her father was the famous Hollywood actor Clark Gable. Monroe was reunited with her mother as a teenager, but was soon taken away from her because of mental issues. She spent the rest of her youth living with her mother's best friend, Grace.
It was during her time with Grace that Monroe developed her love for the cinema. The two would often go to see movies together, and Monroe became fascinated by the Hollywood lifestyle. She began her career in small parts in "B" movies, but was soon noticed by Hollywood producers. Her first starring role came in 1952's Don't Bother to Knock. Her acting career took off after that.
Monroe parlayed her popularity into a relationship with President John F. Kennedy after performing at one of his birthday parties. Tragically, Monroe died in what was ruled as "probable suicide" by the L.A. County Coroner's Office after a long battle with drug, and alcohol abuse, and mental issues. She was just 36 years old.