Not Just Blonde: 5 of Marilyn Monroe’s Greatest Achievements During Her Life and Career

Blonde was released on Netflix last week – to a tetchy response.


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The film, starring Ana de Armas as the titular Marilyn Monroe, currently boasts an audience score of 32% on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviews aren’t everything, but in this case the movie has touched a nerve with just about everyone who doesn’t enjoy fiction presented as fact, dressed up in a 2 hour 49 minute slog that looks pretty but doesn’t really say a whole lot.

Since its release, the film has garnered much criticism for its glaring focus on trauma (much of which is fabricated) and the lack of attention paid to Monroe’s achievements, of which there are many.

Director Andrew Dominik has since defended much of Blonde’s content, including the *choice* to include many 3D rendered clips of Marilyn’s unborn children. Supporters of the movie have also emphasised that the film is billed as a “fictionalised” retelling of the star’s life, and that it’s supposed to be a dark, difficult watch for a reason.

Regardless, Blonde actively leaves out countless details about Marilyn’s actual life – positive and otherwise – that no doubt would have made for a fascinating and entertaining biopic.

The star achieved many, many things over the course of her life and career – here are just 5 of them.

1. Her many award wins

Monroe was, of course, best known for her film career. Some Like It Hot, The Prince and the Showgirl, and the Misfits, were among the pictures that immortalised her as the icon she is today.

Over the course of her career she picked up many accolades and awards including a Golden Globe, the Henrietta Award for Best Young Box Office Personality and a Crystal Star Award. She was also inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and named the sixth greatest film actress in the world on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Stars list.

Well deserved, clearly.


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2. She was an avid supporter of civil rights

Monroe wasn’t just a supporter of civil rights, she was actually known for her oftentimes ‘radical’ politics. Growing up among different communities and people of varying racial backgrounds, the star easily developed more progressive politics compared to her more traditional Hollywood counterparts.

Later, her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller only further encouraged her interest in politics and to embrace her working class roots.

“When you put it all together, [her politics are] pretty substantial,” says biographer Lois Banner. “But in most of the biographies, including mine, it comes out as salt scattered on the biography, because one gets so fascinated by her psychological makeup. But the political involvements are no less real.”

3. Her lengthy filmography

Marilyn’s life may have been tragically short, but during her 15 years in the film business she starred in almost 30 pictures. Beginning her career in 1950, Monroe signed to 20th Century Fox and then Colombia. Her major breakthrough came three years later when she starred in Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire.

The star was largely type-cast as the ‘dumb blonde’ over the course of her career, oftentimes playing temptresses, other women, and characters who were the object of male fantasy. Despite this Marilyn made her roles her own, injecting personality, humour, and authenticity into her parts that distinguished her from other actors at that time, making her more than just her looks.

1955’s The Seven Year Itch quickly became one of Monroe’s most popular films, gifting us what is probably (definitely) her most iconic scene to date. Subway grates were never the same again.


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4. Monroe often gave to charity

Having spent a portion of her childhood in foster homes due to her mother’s illness, Marilyn spent much of her short life giving back to those less fortunate.

There are multiple reports of the star donating money to children’s charities including Milk Fund for Babies and the March of Dimes. In 1955, she worked with WAIF, an organisation focused on placing abandoned children in loving homes.

Her last public appearance before her death was in 1962, at a muscular dystrophy benefit event in Los Angeles.

5. She is officially one of the best actors to never receive an Academy Award nomination

That’s according to the Guardian, anyway. Despite her many career accolades (as mentioned above), Marilyn was never graced with an Academy Award – or even a nomination.

Her performances in Some Like It Hot and The Misfits should have garnered her at least a nod, the publication argues, due to her rigorous studio-trained talents, and her ability to handle comedy as well as drama.

“And, really, how many ‘serious actresses’ had the comic chops, let alone the matchless blend of smoking sexuality and guileless innocence of her Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot?” they ask.

Feature image via The Seven Year Itch / 20th Century Fox