She was the ultimate blonde bombshell and 50 years after her sudden death, the smoke from Marilyn Monroe’s one-woman sexual revolution has yet to clear.Monroe (1926-1962) wasn’t the first Hollywood pin-up or even a natural blonde but between the famous tight sweaters, the Playboy pictures, and that skirt blowing episode over a subway grate, the young woman previously known as Norma Jeane Baker put America and the world in a fluster.
It was a fluster that brought her fame, celebrity marriages, a list of film credits and a sex symbol status revered by pop singers, actresses and fashionistas to this day.
This fame has kept Hollywood, the music industry and the fashion world intoxicated by the beauty that died at 36 in an apparent drug overdose suicide.
Monroe’s enduring power of attraction might seem odd as her Hollywood CV was slim, and her history of heartbreak and murky death are hardly to be recommended but celebrities regularly channel the cleavage, blonde curls and white dresses that made Monroe the ultimate sex symbol..
Her “dumb blonde” persona and overt sex appeal begs the question: was Monroe’s seductive persona proof of independence or the reflection of a woman being manipulated by men?
In a time when erotic capital is becoming more valuable, the Monroe story might be a warning to women hoping their powers of attraction will bring glamour and wealth.
August 5 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the legendary sex symbol from an overdose of barbiturates.
The circumstances of her death have been the subject of debate. Officially classified as a suicide, the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as of homicide, have not been ruled out.
In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the decades following her death, she has often been cited as both a pop and a cultural icon as well as the quintessential American sex symbol.
Monroe once said ‘If I’m a star, then the people made me a star’, this has proven true and the people have secured her as a star that will never fade.
(original text published in The Blend on 4 August 2012 http://www.theblend.ie/index.php/remembering-marilyn-monroe/)