Happy birthday, Mrs. Monroe. Born on June 1, 1926 as Norma Jeane Mortenson, later Baker, Marilyn Monroe became an American cultural icon, starring in films such as Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Seven Year Itch. She would have been 93 years old today.
Growing up was not always a happy time for Monroe. According to Britannica Encyclopedia, her mother was in and out of an asylum, resulting in Monroe living with 12 sets of foster parents, as well as in an orphanage. But in 1946, after marrying a fellow aircraft worker, she became a photographer’s model and signed a contract with Twentieth Century Fox.
However, her career didn’t take off until 1950, when she appeared in The Asphalt Jungle. While it was an uncredited role, she received a lot of fan mail, and followed by her role in All About Eve (1950), she won another contract from Fox.
She then went onto make Let’s Make It Legal (1951), Love Nest (1951), and Niagara (1953), followed by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954).
As she had divorced her aircraft worker sweetheart soon after WWII, Monroe married baseball star Joe DiMaggio in 1954. However, their marriage ended less than a year later.
In 1955 and 1956, Monroe established herself as a talented comedian in The Seven Year Itch and Bus Stop respectively. She then married playwright Arthur Miller and co-starred with Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). She then starred in comedy Some Like It Hot (1959), and her last role The Misfits (1961). The latter was written by Miller, who she had divorced the year before.
Sadly, Monroe died by suicide in 1962 in her Los Angeles home.
To honor the blonde bombshell’s birthday, Newsweek has analyzed data from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to find the best 10 films she starred in.
10. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Score: 83 / 100
Also starred: Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Cameron Mitchell.
Plot: Three New York models set-up a plan to bag themselves a millionnaire husband.
What critics said: “Fabulously cast and wickedly witty.” Radio Times
9. Niagara (1953)
Score: 86 / 100
Also starred: Jean Peters, Casey Adams and Joseph Cotten.
Plot: Two couples are bound together by betrayal, jealousy and madness.
What critics said: “Around the scenic splendor of Niagara Falls, Charles Brackett has produced and co-scripted a gripping murder melodrama that is loaded with sex and suspense.” Hollywood Reporter
8. The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Score: 87 / 100
Also starred: Tom Ewell, Evelyn Keyes and Sonny Tufts.
Plot: Feeling lonely and worn down by marriage, a husband is drawn towards his new neighbor.
What critics said: “What counts is that laughs come thick and fast, that the general entertainment is light and gay.” Variety.
7. Monkey Business (1952)
Score: 88 / 100
Also starred: Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers and Charles Coburn.
Plot: An absent-minded professor is seeking a “fountain of youth” formula that will revitalize middle-agers both mentally and physically.
What critics said: “A summit of comic invention.” New Yorker.
6. All About Eve (1950)
Score: 94 / 100
Also starred: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and Gary Merrill.
Plot: The story of an aspiring actress who uses everyone around her to get to the top.
What critics said: “All About Eve ranks among the smartest comedy-dramas in many, many years.” Associated Press
5. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Score: 97 / 100
Also starred: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and George Raft.
Plot: Two musicians end up cross-dressing to avoid the Mob and join an all female band.
What critics said: “The pace is fast and the humour—especially Mr Lemmon’s—is often hilarious. It is pleasant to meet again such old familiars as Mr Raft and Mr Brown; and Miss Monroe, as always, is irresistible.” The Guardian
4. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Score: 97 / 100
Also starred: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern and Jean Hagen.
Plot: While successful, a bank robbery ends up getting a lot of crooks into trouble.
What critics said: “This tale of a jewel theft gone wrong is notable for its gritty procedural detail and an emphasis on the inner lives of the small time crooks, expertly played by Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe.” Associated Press
3. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Score: 98 / 100
Also starred: Jane Russell, Charles Coburn and Elliott Reid.
Plot: Obsessed with money and finding a wealthy husband for herself and her friend, Monroe ends up tangled up with a diamond merchant and his sidekick.
What critics said: “Howard Hawks adds sly sexual insinuation to the blatantly sexual antics of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in this scintillating 1953 adaptation of the stage musical based on Anita Loos’s novel.” New Yorker
1 = Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)
Score: 100 / 100
Also starred: Richard Widmark, Anne Bancroft and Donna Corcoran.
Plot: An advert for not bringing a girl home on a first date, especially when your child is there.
What critics said: “Fairly satisfying.” Filmcritic.com
1 = The Misfits (1961)
Score: 100 / 100
Also starred: Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach.
Plot: A divorced, one-time stripper demands that her new beau stop killing “misfit” horses for ground meat. Yes, really.
What critics said: “Talent, controversy and accident have combined to make The Misfits an unusually interesting film if not an outstandingly good one.” The Guardian
If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours every day.