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20 Facts About Bombshell Marilyn Monroe That Will Make Your Head Explode

Metro / Andre de Dienes

More than 50 years after her tragic death, everything about Marilyn Monroe's life continues to fascinate her fans.

From her starring roles to her iconic fashion choices, everything about the star's short life is totally memorable. But unless you're one of Monroe's biggest fans, you'll learn something new about her from this list.

1. Her real name was Norma Jean Baker

While she became a glamorous movie star, Monroe's early life was anything but charmed. She never knew her father, and her mother was institutionalized. Monroe bounced through 11 sets of foster parents, and married at age 16 to avoid being sent back to an orphanage.

Monroe (and her original brown hair) in her first photo shoot.Wikimedia

Her big break came when she was working in a munitions factory. She was spotted by a photographer the Army's motion picture unit and asked to star in a photo shoot for them. The rest is history.

2. She lived with a hidden illness

Monroe was pregnant twice, but never gave birth. Unbeknownst to her fans, she was living with endometriosis, a painful condition that caused the uterine lining to develop outside the uterus.

The actress and her husband Arthur Miller had two unsuccessful pregnancies.The Marilyn Monroe Collection

Monroe suffered from both a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy which had to be terminated because of the disease.

3. Her first marriage was arranged

After years of moving between families while in the foster care system, Monroe finally went to live with a family friend, Grace Goddard (nee Mckee), when she was 15.

Sadly, Goddard and her husband had to move to West Virginia and were unable to take the teenager with them. To avoid Monroe getting sent back to an orphanage, Grace encouraged her to marry the 20-year-old boy that was living next door, James Dougherty.

Marilyn Monroe and James Dougherty on their wedding day
hiamag.com

The couple dated for a while then got married 18 days after Monroe turned 16.

"Grace McKee arranged the marriage for me, I never had a choice," Monroe revealed in an interview. "There's not much to say about it. They couldn't support me, and they had to work out something. And so I got married."

Dougherty later said: "I thought she was awful young, but we talked and we got on pretty good."

Talking didn't work when it come to solving their marital issues, and in 1946, the couple's divorce was finalized.

"My marriage didn't make me sad, but it didn't make me happy either. My husband and I hardly spoke to each other. This wasn't because we were angry. We had nothing to say. I was dying of boredom."

4. She became a good cook, eventually

According to her former roommate, actress Shelley Winters, Monroe had a lot of strengths but cooking wasn't one of them.

Winters recalled the time she asked the starlet to wash lettuce so they could make salad for dinner. However, when she went into the kitchen, Winters found Monroe washing each lettuce leaf "with a Brillo pad."

Andrew Scrivani / The New York Times

However, as time went on the actress learned some new skills and became quite confident in the kitchen.

She apparently owned a lot of cookbooks and complex recipes like this family stuffing recipe which was passed down to her by her second husband Joe DiMaggio's mother.

5. She wore the most valuable dress ever sold

AP

The dress Monroe wore while famously wishing President Kennedy "Happy Birthday" was just as impressive as her singing. The actress had to be sewn into the skin-tight outfit, which was covered in 2,500 glittering rhinestones.

The dress sold for $4.8 million, making it the most valuable piece of clothing ever sold. Monroe actually broke her own record, beating the price for her iconic white dress from The Seven Year Itch.

There's a whole lot more you didn't know about the blonde bombshell...

6. She made less than her makeup artist while filming Niagara

Pamono

The thriller was one of Monroe's first big parts, but she was still under contract with 20th Century Fox as a stock actor, meaning she was paid the low wages of an extra or bit part actress. Reportedly, her salary for the film actually came in lower than her makeup artist's.

Talk about being undervalued.

7. She had plastic surgery, but it wasn't her idea

Celebrity Plastic Surgery

One of Monroe's early agents, Johnny Hyde, decided the actress needed cosmetic surgery to get an edge over her competition. He definitely paid to have her jaw re-shaped, but many believe the actress also had a nose job.

8. She helped kick-start Ella Fitzgerald's career

Monroe with Ella FitzgeraldImmortal Marilyn

The jazz legend has this to say about Monroe's impact on her early career, when many nightclubs still refused to hire a black singer:

I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him — and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status — that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman — a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.

9. Her most famous scene led to one of her divorces

The scene of Monroe enjoying the breeze in The Seven Year Itch is one of Hollywood's most famous movie scenes, but it caused a big rift between the actress and her then-husband Joe DiMaggio.

The scene was filmed in front of a crowd of extras who whistled and laughed, which upset DiMaggio. The couple got into a fight which turned serious, and Marilyn filed for divorce on the grounds of "intolerable cruelty" soon after.

Monroe and baseball star Joe DiMaggio.Simon and Schuster

Ironically, the scene had to be re-shot anyways because of all the noise the extras were making. But this time it was taped on a closed set.

Did you know she had a secret affair with a very famous comedian? Keep reading to find out who.

10. Hugh Hefner was buried next to her

CNBC

The Playboy magazine founder was definitely a little fixated on Monroe. She was Playboy's first "Sweetheart of the Month," as unused magazine photos of her appeared inside Playboy's premiere issue.

"I feel a double connection to her because she was the launching key to the beginning of Playboy," Hefner said.

I Am Not The Babysitter

He's not the only one who tried to spend eternity with Monroe. Another man actually tried to be buried on top of Monroe's plot, but the man's wife denied the request and put the space up for sale instead.

A buyer shelled out $4.6 million dollars for it, but eventually backed out.

11. She had an affair with Jerry Lewis (or at least he says so)

Yes, the famous late comedian insisted he had an intimate relationship with the movie star. Even stranger, he revealed their love affair to disprove the rumors that Monroe and President Kennedy were an item.

Kirk McCoy / LA Times

It's not as unbelievable as it sounds. Actress Shelley Winters was Monroe's roommate, and says the star had a thing for "brainy" men. She even kept a picture of Albert Einstein in a silver frame on her piano.

12. She spoke with a stutter

Monroe's breathy voice wasn't because she was trying to be flirtatious, it's a tactic she used to overcome her stutter.

The actress worked with a dialect coach to cover up her vocal tic, which is why you never heard it in her movies. However, it returned while she was filming her final movie, Something's Got to Give, and it made it very difficult for her to deliver her lines. She was eventually fired from the film.

According to many who worked with the icon, she also had a hard time memorizing lines.

"The joke was, she couldn't make two sentences meet," said Don Murray, her co-star in the 1956 film Bus Stop.

Some people thought she lacked professionalism, but others, including Murray, chalked it up to nerves. "For somebody who the camera loved, she was still terrified of going before the camera and broke out in a rash all over her body," added Murray.

13. She almost starred in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Monroe was Truman Capote's "first choice" to play Holly Golightly in 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Pinterst

According to Sam Wasson, author of Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, Capote didn't get his wish  because Monroe's advisor and acting coach, Paul Strasberg, "said she should not be playing a lady of the evening."

The writer was reportedly very disappointed after Audrey Hepburn was given the role, saying, "Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey."

14. She's still making money

Milton H. Greene / Joshua Greene

Like other stars who are no longer with us, Monroe's fame has outlived her. Her likeness is managed by the Curtis Management Group, who report that the actress still makes about $2 million a year from her fans around the world.

Since her death, Monroe has raked in more than $150 million.

15. She was the first woman to own her own production company

IMP Awards

Throughout her career, Monroe battled with film studios to shoot the projects she wanted her way. When 20th Century Fox continued typecasting her as a "dumb blonde," she founded her own company.

While founding Marilyn Monroe Productions was a revolutionary idea, the studio only ever produced one film: The Prince and the Showgirl.

16. She took a jab at Frank Sinatra by naming her dog

Monroe and Maf,Altervista

The singer sent Monroe a Maltese to make her feel better after she broke up with playwright Arthur Miller. But Monroe wasn't above teasing Sinatra with the dog's name. She called him Maf (short for Mafia Honey), and of course Sinatra was famous for his rumored ties to the mafia.

17. Joe DiMaggio kept a promise to her after she died

While the two had been apart for years by the time Monroe died, DiMaggio never forgot a promise he made to the actress while they were together. He said if she died before him, he would send flowers to her grave every week.

The Red List

True to his word, DiMaggio sent a half-dozen red roses to her crypt three times a week for the next 20 years. How sweet, especially since their marriage lasted just eight months!

18. She loved to read

Contrary to what some people believe, Monroe was no airhead. She reportedly had a library with more than 400 volumes.

She showed off her love of literature in many of her photographs, and those were the ones she favored the most.

"[On] nights when I've got nothing else to do I go to the Pickwick bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard," she explained to a director after he found her reading R.M. Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. "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?"

19. She never won an Oscar

Forget winning, Monroe was never even nominated for an Academy Award throughout her critically-acclaimed career.

She did win other coveted trophies though, including a Golden Globe for Some Like It Hot. She also received two honorary Henrietta Awards from the HFPA, both for the World Film Favorite category.

20. There are conspiracy theories about her death

Monroe sadly passed away in 1962, and her death was officially ruled a "probable suicide" by overdose. Still, there were no traces of drugs in her stomach or intestinal tract, so some people theorize that she was given the drugs by force.

When her organs were requested for further testing, the deputy coroner, Thomas Noguchi, said that they had been destroyed.

People began to speculate that the actress was murdered. Some believed the Kennedys were involved, while others were convinced it was the mafia.

The mystery only deepened after authorities discovered a system of wire-taps in Monroe's house after her death.

It's been nearly 60 years since Monroe died, and despite assuming we know all there is to know about her, there are still a lot of interesting things about her life and death that we're only figuring out now.

Did you learn anything new about the Hollywood legend? Let us know in the comments!

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com