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Arts & Entertainment

Gentlemen still prefer blondes: a look at Marilyn Monroe’s movies 50 years after her death

Marilyn Monroe at the Hotel Bel Air, 1962.
Marilyn Monroe at the Hotel Bel Air, 1962.
Bert Stern/TASCHEN

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This Sunday marks the 50 year anniversary of the death of Norma Jeane Mortenson, more commonly known as Marilyn Monroe.

She legally changed her name in 1956, officially becoming the iconic actress we know and love. The original blonde bombshell has fascinated fans for decades. Her memory is still very much alive. Her affairs are still speculated upon. Her glamour and fashion sense often considered unparalleled. But her greatest accomplishment was her tragically short career.

Though she was often typecast as the wide-eyed, breathy-voiced vixen, Monroe still managed to captivate audiences and critics alike with her performances. Her most famous on screen moments include the musical number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from “Gentlemen prefer Blondes” and the always iconic subway grate scene in “The Seven Year Itch.”

She was able to show off her impeccable comic timing in “Some Like It Hot,” holding her own against talented actors Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. In Arthur Miller’s “The Misfits,” Monroe took on the meatier role of divorcee Roslyn, a darker and more troubled character than any she had portrayed before. Miller wrote the role for her, hoping it could launch her career as a more serious actress, though “The Misfits” ended up being the last film she completed before her death.

Our critics weigh in on Marilyn Monroe’s career, her best performances and worst flops. What’s your favorite Marilyn Monroe movie or moment?


Wade Major, film critic for KPCC and

Claudia Puig, film critic for KPCC and USA Today