From details of her affair with JFK to the allegedly suspicious nature of her death, the late, great Marilyn Monroe has been the subject of a lot of speculation over the years. And, as it turns out, a series of newly-unveiled photos taken back in 1960 has now sparked even more rumors about the screen goddess. Here’s why.
Way before she ever sparkled on the silver screen, though, Monroe was known by another name: Norma Jeane Mortenson. And the future star, it’s fair to say, endured a difficult childhood. She was placed in foster care when her mother developed paranoid schizophrenia, for instance, and also spent time in an orphanage while young. Then, sadly, she was subsequently molested by her legal guardian before marrying her first husband, Jim Dougherty, out of necessity while she was aged just 16.
Then Monroe began her showbiz career as a model; by 1946, in fact, she had graced 33 different magazine covers. That same year, moreover, she landed a six-month contract with 20th Century Fox, for whom she adopted her stage name. She also divorced Dougherty, who was firmly opposed to her pursuing a career of her own.
And following a small part in 1947’s Dangerous Years, Monroe bagged her first starring role as a chorus girl in Ladies of the Chorus. She then began a relationship with mentor Johnny Hyde, who also paid for Monroe to undergo various plastic surgery procedures. Then a brief but notable appearance in All About Eve finally saw her movie career gain traction.
Monroe would also go on to receive critical acclaim for her performance in Fritz Lang’s 1952 drama Clash by Night. What’s more, an interview in which she revealed that she’d once posed nude only cemented her status as Hollywood’s newest sex symbol. And she had a busy personal life, too, dating director Elia Kazan and actor Yul Brynner at around this time.
However, by now Monroe had also become infamous for her temperamental antics on set. Her behavior was said to be a result of low self-esteem, perfectionism and stage fright, however. She also suffered from chronic insomnia and anxiety, and she began abusing alcohol and drugs as a way of coping.
Then in 1953 Monroe truly established herself as an A-lister – thanks to her turns in three iconic films. Firstly, she had one of the lead roles in the film noir classic Niagara, following that up with a memorable performance as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Finally, that year also saw the release of How to Marry a Millionaire, also starring Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall.
Tired of being typecast as a dumb blonde, however, Monroe refused to appear in the musical comedy The Girl in Pink Tights. As a result, she was subsequently suspended by 20th Century Fox. She eventually settled her dispute with the studio, though, and was even offered a $100,000 bonus for appearing in The Seven Year Itch. And, of course, a scene from that film spawned Monroe’s iconic wind-blown skirt pose.
But, unfortunately, the publicity generated by that pose also resulted in the end of her brief marriage to Joe DiMaggio. That didn’t stop Monroe’s career from continuing apace, however: she even went on to form her own production company, MMP, with photographer Milton Greene. She also started attending acting classes and underwent psychoanalysis sessions in a bid to further hone her talents.
And Monroe’s love life took yet another unexpected turn when she began dating Arthur Miller. At the time, the playwright was the subject of an FBI investigation due to his alleged communist sympathies. And due to their connection, an FBI file was subsequently opened on Monroe herself. But despite pressure from studio executives, she refused to end the relationship. In fact, the pair ended up marrying at a civil ceremony in New York in 1956.
Then after Monroe had won a hard-fought battle with 20th Century Fox over a new contract, she picked up a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Bus Stop. She similarly received a BAFTA nomination for her turn in The Prince and the Showgirl. And in 1959 Monroe also won plaudits for her role in Some Like It Hot, arguably her most iconic film, in which she played the incandescent Sugar Kane.
Sadly, though, both Monroe’s personal and professional lives nosedived at the start of the 1960s. As it turned out, the publicity surrounding her affair with Let’s Make Love co-star Yves Montand didn’t convert to box office takings. What’s more, Monroe’s difficult reputation cost her the lead in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And while shooting her final film, The Misfits, she was additionally plagued by health problems and substance abuse issues.
Her relationship with Miller also deteriorated, and the pair subsequently divorced in 1961. Monroe went on to spend time in a mental ward for depression, rekindle a friendship with Joe DiMaggio and date Frank Sinatra. She also pulled out of two productions, Rain and Something’s Got to Give, due to a creative dispute and a sinus infection, respectively.
It was during this troubled period, however, that Monroe set tongues wagging. She seductively sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy at the President’s 1962 birthday bash in Madison Square Garden, and rumor has it that the performance sparked an affair between the two. Furthermore, Monroe is also alleged to have had romantic relations with JFK’s brother Bobby.
But as many know, Monroe never had the chance to get things back on track. That was because, on August 5, 1962, the star was found dead at her California home. The toxicology report found that she had died from acute barbiturate poisoning; a coroner later stated that she had probably committed suicide.
Of course, that official statement didn’t stop many conspiracy theories surfacing about her passing. Norman Mailer’s 1973 biography of the star brought the idea that she’d been murdered into the mainstream, for instance. As a result of the speculation, though, John Van de Kamp, an LA County District Attorney, conducted a further threshold investigation in 1982. He eventually ruled that there was no reason to suspect that Monroe’s death had been caused by foul play.
But although Van de Kamp seems to have finally put paid to hearsay about the nature of Monroe’s passing, recently revealed images of the star may have verified yet another Monroe rumor. Those pictures were shot by photographer and friend Frieda Hull outside New York’s Fox Studios in 1960. In them, moreover, Monroe, who had just finished tests for The Misfits, appears to be sporting a baby bump. Yves Montand, rather than her then-husband Arthur Miller, was reported to have been the father of her alleged child.
And the theory that Monroe was pregnant at the time was given extra weight by the man who bought the photos at auction. Indeed, Tony Michaels, who was a friend of Hull, claimed that the photographer told him personally that the actress was expecting and that Montand was the father. Sadly, though, Hull passed away in 2014, aged 83, so that claim can’t be verified.
According to Michaels and Hull, the star kept the pregnancy secret but sadly lost the baby while attending a hospital check-up. Tragically, Monroe had already experienced miscarriages in 1957 and 1958. These were reportedly caused by the endometriosis from which she’d suffered throughout her adult years.
And, of course, we will never know for sure whether Monroe was pregnant during this particular photo shoot. Nonetheless, the media attention surrounding the images certainly proves one thing. That is, that the icon remains a source of fascination to the public more than 50 years on from her death.