Marilyn Monroe turned the male film industry on its head


When she was fired as a replaceable actress, Monroe knew her worth and spoke bravely for herself.

“She found her power,” said photographer Nancy Lee Andrews. “Becoming Marilyn is not a tragedy. It is a triumph.”

When you examine this iconic movie star outside the camera, the depth of her life comes into the full picture. Here’s a behind – the – scenes look at how Monroe strategically navigated his career.

Not just another stupid blonde

One of Monroe’s early hits was the musical comedy “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. She played a silly blonde gold digger named Lorelei, a showgirl who sailed to France to marry a wealthy man.

“I can be smart when it matters. But most men don’t like it,” she says in the film, a line Monroe insisted on using.

Monroe had no control over casting while under contract with 20th Century Fox. The studios had strangleholds on the industry. This was also a time when very few women produced, wrote or directed. In the mid-1950s, only 5% of American filmmakers were women, according to one study by Luis Amaral from Northwestern University.

Despite the lack of female representation, Monroe found power by adding complexity to these simple characters.

“It was crucial in the development of Marilyn’s career and starring character because Lori is the stupid blonde who’s not as stupid as you think she is,” said Sarah Churchwell, professor of American literature at the University of London.

Monroe played into assumptions to catapult himself to stardom.

“If you’re able to not only be part of the joke, but to control it, it’s the hallmark of a genius for me,” said actress Amber Tamblyn.

To find his power and fight for his worth

Monroe starred in several major hits in 1953, including “How to Marry a Millionaire,” in which she again played a silly blonde. The film earned Fox $ 15 million, equivalent to $ 150 million today.

After being asked to play another beautiful one-note lead in the musical comedy, “The Girl in Pink Tights,” Monroe was tired. She literally called it “garbage” and gave it back to the head of the studio, Darryl Zanuck, according to cinematographer Cindy De La Hoz-Sipala.

She also learned that her co-star in the film, Frank Sinatra, would earn $ 5,000 a week, while she only earned $ 1,500, according to Marilyn Monroe Collection.

“She was the main attraction,” said actress Mira Sorvino. “I mean, she was the reason people flocked to the theater. So it was insane that she didn’t get a much more powerful position in terms of pay.”

Monroe denied the role until her salary and conditions improved.

“For anyone who thinks Monroe was an eternal victim, she walked out of the ‘Pink Tights’ set. Enough said,” said Molly Haskell, author and film critic.

The film was never made, and the studio changed Monroe’s contract, giving her a pay raise for future roles.

Monroes David versus Goliath gamble

In 1954, Monroe filmed the most famous moment of her career: When her dress blows up over a subway rider. The scene is in “The Seven Year Itch”, which was a huge hit at the box office.

Do you remember when Marilyn Monroe's white cocktail dress wrote film history?

She was on top of her success but was still typecast. So she left Hollywood.

She broke her contract with Fox and went to New York and launched her own film company, Marilyn Monroe Productions. She also taught at Actors Studio. This was all in an attempt, she said, to be seen as a “serious actress.”

Within a year, Fox admitted and offered Monroe a new contract – giving her a higher salary, director approval and the freedom to make films through her own production company.

“She got everything she wanted, everything, which was unheard of in 1955,” said Amy Greene, Monroe’s friend who was with her when she received the news.

“She was whip smart, witty, ambitious, strategic and above all incredibly brave,” said Sam Starbuck, executive producer of “Reframed: Marilyn Monroe.” “She knew her worth, and she refused to be dominated by the male studio bosses in Hollywood. She challenged the status quo, turned her gaze on them time and time again, and won.”

Proves her acting chops

Monroe’s first film under her new contract was “Bus Stop”. This was her opportunity to show off her acting chops.

She played a failed musician named Chérie, who aspired to become a big star. Monroe insisted on ghostly makeup because she thought this character never came out in sunlight. She also perfected an Ozark accent to the role.

“We can see that Marilyn Monroe’s physicality is being treated differently than previous films,” said Jeanine Basinger, a professor of film studies at Wesleyan University. “There’s a different quality to it. It’s more realistic. It’s less voyeuristic.”

Critics praised Monroe’s performance.

“A lot of people said she really deserved an Oscar nomination for that role,” said film critic Christina Newland.

Monroe is making a film with her own production company

Monroe’s next step was to produce the film “The Prince and the Showgirl” with his production company.

“‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ was finally going to demonstrate everything she had been fighting for for a decade that she would get all the credibility she wanted,” Churchwell said.

Marilyn played Elsie, an American showgirl who falls for a European prince, played by Laurence Olivier. There were challenges during the filming, such as Monroe’s delay, but in front of the camera she shone.

“People who worked with her talked about these smart notes she would give after seeing [footage], where she said very specific things that she was not happy with and why, “said Alicia Malone, host of Turner Classic Movies.” They were symbolic of a woman who knew her craft and knew exactly what she wanted and exactly , what she needed. “

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