Today, August 5, 2012, marks the 50 year anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. She was just 36 years old, and on the verge of a major movie stardom.
For many actresses and other young starlets, to emulate her is a rite of passage in the entertainment industry. Her signature look has been reenacted from singers like Lady Gaga and Madonna, to actresses Nicole Kidman, Lindsey Lohan, Scarlett Johansson, and many others. The late Anna Nicole Smith, a former Guess model, elevated her career by becoming a sultrier, less vulnerable version of her icon, Marilyn Monroe.
Now, 50 years later, Marilyn’s memory hasn’t diminished-it’s simply gotten stronger, taken on in different forms by a new generation of young women every decade. What is it about her that makes her more popular, more beloved each passing year?
Her looks certainly played a large role. Her vital statistics (36-22-35) made her envied by women and pursued by men. Her child-like innocence in contrast to her physical appeal made her a mystery; a puzzle society yearned to know the secrets of.
But, film critic Pauline Kael saw her in another, more vulnerable light. “She was funny and impulsive in a way that made people feel protective [of her].”
The real fascination could be found in the fact that Marilyn is more remembered for her persona than as an actress or a major star of any of the movies she starred in.
There are the well-known scene stealers, like the one in The Seven Year Itch where her white halter dress, hem hitting at her knees, is lifted up by a gust from an underground sewer. Or the memorizing dance scene she performs in the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl.
Marilyn was a hopeless romantic who never gave up looking for her happy ending. Sadly, while she didn’t achieve it, she lived a life of freedom and experiences that many of us wish we could attain. And so maybe, by encompassing some small characteristic of hers (like wearing red lipstick or dying your hair platinum blond) you’re capturing a part of her spirit and making it your own.
So, for every Marilyn Monroe fan out there, remember her in your own special way today-whether its watching one of her movies, taking a long drive down the coast, or just wearing red lipstick-it is, after all, a special occasion.