22 Photos Of Norma Jeane Mortenson Before She Became Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was an American actress and model. Famous for playing comic “dumb blonde” characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and was emblematic of the era’s attitudes towards sexuality. Although she was a top-billed actress for only a decade, her films grossed $200 million by the time of her unexpected death in 1962.With her platinum blonde hair and signature red lipstick, Marilyn Monroe is easily one of the most iconic celebrities of all time, however, only a few know what the actress looked like before she was famous.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Monroe had a really tough childhood. She moved from one foster home to another, going through traumatic experiences in almost all of them. She was sexually abused and even started developing a stutter. Monroe married at the age of sixteen, but that didn’t bring her happiness as well.
While working in a radioplane factory in 1944 as part of the war effort, she was introduced to a photographer from the First Motion Picture Unit and began a successful pin-up modeling career. The work led to short-lived film contracts with Twentieth Century-Fox (1946–1947) and Columbia Pictures (1948).And that was a turning point of her life.
Soon she became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and was instantly recognizable, but a troubled girl still hid beneath the fame.
Monroe’s troubled private life received much attention.She struggled with substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. She had two highly publicized marriages,both of which ended in divorce.On August 5, 1962, Monroe committed suicide at age of 36.She died because of overdose of barbiturates at her home in Los Angeles.
She is remembered as a popular culture icon and a sex symbol, however, most forget her troublesome roots when she was just a regular girl in the neighborhood. Scroll down to meet the sincere Norma Jeane Mortenson before she became Marilyn Monroe.

#1 Baby Marilyn

The future American actress Marilyn Monroe smiling as a 10-months old baby (April 1927)

#2 With mother

A young Norma Jeane Mortenson with her mother, Gladys Baker (1929)

#3 That smile

A young Norma Jeane Mortenson with her mother, Gladys Baker (1929)

#4 Staying at Aunt Ana’s place

An adolescent Norma Jeane Mortenson staying at her Aunt Ana’s place. Aunt Ana’s was one of the many homes she would live in through her difficult childhood as an orphan (1938)

#5 Molested by guardian

Norma Jeane Mortenson at 14 years old. After her Aunt Ana got sick, Norma Jeane had to move in with the Goddard family. She had lived there before, but left their home when she was 11 when her legal guardian, Erwin Goddard, molested her (1940)


#6 With friends

A teenager Norma Jeane Mortenson (center) at an outdoor fete with a group of friends (1941)

#7 Rowboat

A teenager Norma Jeane Mortenson (center) and her friends in a rowboat (1941)

#8 Adventure at zoo

Norma Jeane Mortenson at the zoo, with a hornbill on her arm (1941)

#9 Beauty Queen

Norma Jeane Mortenson as a 15-year-old beauty queen. This would be her last year as a single woman (1941)

#10 Married in her teenage

At the age of 16, Norma Jeane Mortenson married James Dougherty (June 19, 1942)

#11 Bridal portrait

Norma Jeane Dougherty, Bridal portrait, Age 16 (1942)


#12 Hardly spoken

Norma Jeane Mortenson with her husband, James Dougherty. When the pair met, he was her neighbor and five years her senior. The two had little in common. She would later say that they hardly spoke because “we had nothing to say.” (1943)

#13 Distant relation

James Dougherty, now a Merchant Marine, poses with his wife outside of boot camp. After he joined the Merchant Marines, the couple became increasingly distant. In 1944, he would be sent off to the Pacific. From then on, they would rarely see one another (1943)

#14 Alone at boot camp

Norma Jeane Dougherty alone, with her husband’s boot camp in the distance (1943)

#15 Working at the factory

Norma Jeane Dougherty working at the Radioplane Munitions Factory. While working at the factory, Norma Jeane was spotted by an Army propaganda officer.

#16 First Modeling job

He took this photo of her working at her post. It was the first modelling job of her life (1945)


#17 Quit job for modeling

Shortly after her photo-shoot in the factory, she quit her job and tried modelling full time.One of her first modeling shots (1945)

#18 Models life ring

Norma Jeane posing in the gardens of the Ambassador Hotel holding the Blue Book Models life ring (1945)

#19 Husband disapproved New Career

Norma Jeane Dougherty gets intimately close to another model to film an ad for hair products. James Dougherty strongly disapproved of his wife’s new career. Less than a year after this photo was taken, their marriage would fall apart and the pair would get divorced (1945)

#20 The famous pose of her

Norma Jeane becomes a “Sweater Girl.” (1945)

#21 Posing for a postcard by the sea (Circa 1946)

#22 Never experienced the intoxication of success

Norma Jeane posing in Malibu. Her lover and photographer behind the photo said “She was twenty and had never experienced the intoxication of success, yet already there was a shadow over her radiance, in her laughter” (1946)

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