When it comes to sex appeal, there’s no one quite like Marilyn Monroe, the first Playboy cover girl, who serenaded President Kennedy whilst wearing a dress into which she had to be sewn.

What is often overlooked, however – even though she frequently graced the silver screen – is the blonde bombshell’s acting career. After a hard childhood in foster care, the then Norma Jeane Baker (born Mortenson) married at 16 and worked in a munitions factory during the war.

In 1946, she broke into the movies, sporting a new name and dyed blonde hair. After making her mark in films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Seven Year Itch, she decided to study acting. The dedicated graduate turned in a fine performance in Bus Stop in 1956, and, three years later, appeared in the film for which she is perhaps best known: Some Like It Hot, also starring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

Sadly, her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller failed and she became increasingly dependent upon alcohol and prescription drugs. Her famous rendition of Happy Birthday in May 1962 was one of her last public appearances – in August, she died at the age of just 36, apparently by her own hand.

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