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Marilyn Monroe

Siren of the Silver Screen

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Marilyn Monroe

The hair, the lips, the voice, the sex appeal, Marilyn Monroe epitomized an American fantasy of femininity and glamour, engineered in the 1950s and of eternal endurance. Once known as Norma Jeane Baker but forever remembered as Marilyn Monroe, her rise to stardom was unprecedented and remains the classic rags-to-riches story of fame. Marilyn Monroe’s iconicity is such that she is no longer a person but rather a set of images and impressions, all wrapped in the mass media, celebrity and consumer culture of the 20th century. TASCHEN books compile the essential stories and seminal photos of the most famous woman who ever lived in luxurious publications, including images by Lawrence Schiller and Andre de Dienes.

Beginning her career as a pin-up model and awarded the title of Miss Cheesecake of 1951, Monroe’s ambitions sent her to Hollywood where she transformed into a successful actress, starring in classic films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch, The Prince and the Showgirl, Some Like it Hot, The Misfits, Niagara, Let’s Make Love, Something’s Got To Give, and River of No Return. But while she made her mark with movies and songs (like the unforgettable Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend and One Silver Dollar), it was her unconventional attitude that most impressed the public. Her nude swimming pool photos, Happy Birthday Mr. President performance for Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, and revealing clothing, as seen in the infamous subway grate scene cultivated an impression of an open (and available) sexuality in an age obsessed with morality.

However Monroe suffered a troubled personal life. She was unable to shake the “dumb blonde” stigma and felt the pressure of being a full-time sex symbol. As well as problems with drug and alcohol addiction, she was involved in several tumultuous relationships, most notably with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. TASCHEN books record her legacy; from Norman Mailer’s unflinching biography and Lawrence Schiller’s intimate story to Bert Stern’s infamous Last Sitting photographs. In the weeks following her death Andy Warhol immortalized Monroe as a pop culture icon in his lauded and heavily reproduced Marilyn Diptych.