Before she was Marilyn Monroe, the world’s most famous blonde was known as Norma Jeane Mortenson. In episode 3 of “The Killing of Marilyn Monroe,” Us Weekly correspondent and host Jackie Miranne reveals how the star became the Hollywood icon she’s known as today, leaving both her old name and her husband behind. While discussing how the actress strived to land a studio gig and the many failures it took before she could call herself a success, the podcast examines the metamorphosis of Marilyn.
First, it all started with a name. Though the star’s talent was all her own, her name was heavily influenced by those around her. Despite not yet managing to book a job at 20th Century Fox, her connections to the company did help her discover part of her moniker. Ben Lyon, the movie studio’s casting executive, had dated a woman named Marilyn in the past, and he was happy to let the young star adopt the name. Monroe was Norma Jeane’s mother’s maiden name, which she selected after shedding her married name, Dougherty.
But with her last name went her first husband. As the newly-dubbed Marilyn chased her dreams, her husband wasn’t content to be known as “Mr. Monroe,” and the couple split because of her budding career. But that career wouldn’t have been possible without a man named Johnny Hyde, a talent agent determined to see Marilyn become a star. Despite a three-decade age gap, Johnny became obsessed with the blonde bombshell and fought for her while working with the studios.
Because of Johnny, the star eventually landed her first two movies, All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle. He also landed her a seven-year contract with Fox, though he died only days after the deal was finalized, leaving Marilyn “devastated.” Despite her promising projects, though, the star didn’t immediately rocket to success. Before she hit it big, she still had to pay her dues.
Around that time, the star agreed to participate in arguably the most famous nude photoshoot in history, a job she took only out of a desperate need for money. Still, she insisted that the pictures were taken on her own terms. Though she agreed to pose naked for photographer Tom Kelley, she would only do it at night, on a private set. With no one else around to witness the shoot, only the model and photographer were privy to the stories that went into creating the famous photos.
Over 12 riveting installments, “The Killing of Marilyn Monroe” seeks to explain exactly what happened on the night of August 4, 1962, and why Marilyn’s death may not have been a suicide after all. The series explores who knew what about it — and why her killer was never brought to justice.
“The Killing of Marilyn Monroe,” from the creators of “Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood,” premiered on August 19 and new episodes are released every Monday. Download and stream everywhere podcasts are available.