There are many descriptions thatcould apply to Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe: actress, idol, tragic figure.
This Sunday marks the 50thanniversary of her death, aged just 36, from an overdose of barbiturates. Over the ldecades her star has risen steadily and she is rightfully acknowledged as one of the all-time Hollywood greats, and is arguably more famous now than she was in her lifetime.
What it is about Monroe that we find so compelling? No-one can deny that she lights up the screen with her presence. She delivered dazzling performances in films such as Some Like it Hot and The Misfits. Even in her bad movies, she somehow always managed to be the best thing in it. Despite studio executives continually typecasting her as the dumb blonde, she managed to shine thanks to her child-like vulnerability and sense of comic timing.
She always looked the part too; always looking like a star should. Her iconic screen costumes, including the white pleated dress that she wore in the Seven Year Itch and the iridescent sheath she enchants Tony Curtis with in Some Like it Hot displayed her voluptuous figure to its best effect. Some of these iconic costumes will be included in the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A in London, which opens in October.
This year in particular, Monroe has been ubiquitous, with her photo appearing on the promotional posters at Cannes film festival in May. The release of the film My Week With Marilyn also put her centre-stage once more. Part of her appeal is the fact that we never got to see the real Norma Jean Baker beneath the creation of Marilyn Monroe. In the golden age of Hollywood, actors were stars, and Marilyn Monroe was the biggest star of all.
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