"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. Instead, they would invent a character for me. I wouldn't argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn't. When they found this out, they would blame me for disillusioning them and fooling them." - Marilyn Monroe
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
Few actresses lived their lives in the public eye more than Marilyn Monroe, and yet her life remains shrouded in mystery to this day. While it's common knowledge that Marilyn's life is a rags-to-riches story, her life is bookended by hazy details surrounding her early life and even more mysterious death.
Who was Norma Jean Baker? Who was Marilyn Monroe? The unknown has contributed to the mythology that has since become part of her legacy, and she nurtured it. Marilyn was adept at constructing a fanciful mystique about her early years, and it's become all but impossible to disentangle the truth from the narrative that Marilyn helped establish. Fittingly, even though Marilyn is instantly recognizable and still one of film's greatest icons, her films remain unfamiliar to the vast majority of the public.
Most people have some preconception of Marilyn's film persona, seeing her as the "dumb blonde" without a brain who existed only in order to be gazed upon. However, one of the essential questions concerning Marilyn's life involves the accuracy of the "Marilyn stereotype": is the "dumb blonde" identity an accurate descriptor of her film roles, and how does it compare to Marilyn's personality off of the movie set?