Marilyn Monroe: Defining quotes from a cultural icon on what would have been her 90th birthday

Monroe continues to be a cultural icon decades after her death 

Jacob Furedi
Wednesday 01 June 2016 15:52

Today marks what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, Monroe grew up to become a cultural icon whose influence is still evident.

An acclaimed actress and model, Monroe’s career reached its peak when she won a Golden Globe for her role in Some Like it Hot.

But Monroe also struggled with depression throughout her highly publicised life. Shelly Winters, a close friend and roommate of Monroe’s in the 1940s, recognised that behind her doe-eyed expression, Monroe maintained a pensive approach to life. In her own autobiography, Winters recalled how Monroe’s inquisitive mind had led the actress and model to question her place in society: “If she’d been dumber, she’d have been happier."

She died at the age of 36 after overdosing on Nembutal.

Her life may have been tumultuous, but she expressed her commentary on the world around her with eloquence and wit, even in the most difficult periods.

Here’s a non-exhaustive collection of some of her most defining quotes:

“I wanted to be treated as a human being who had earned a few rights since her orphanage days.”

From Monroe’s My Story, 1974.

“The chief drawback with men is that they are too talkative.”

From Monroe’s My Story.

“I've been on a calendar, but never on time.”

Quoted in Time Magazine, 1952.

“Husbands are chiefly good as lovers when they are betraying their wives.”

Quoted in Marilyn Monroe: In Her Own Words, 1983.

“If you can make a woman laugh, you can make her do anything.”

“If you're gonna be two-faced at least make one of them pretty.”

“Who said nights were for sleep?” (Referring to her insomnia, of course.)

“I want to grow old without facelifts. I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I have made.”

“I never quite understood it, this sex symbol. I always thought symbols were those things you clash together! That's the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing!”

From an interview in Life Magazine, 1962.

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”

Quoted in On Being Blonde, 2007.

“Hollywood parties not only confuse me, but they often disillusion me. The disillusion comes when I meet a movie star I’ve been admiring since childhood. I always thought that movie stars were exciting and talented people full of special personality. Meeting one of them at a party I discover usually that he (or she) is colourless and even frightened.”

Quoted in My Story.

“I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil.”

“When it comes down to it, I let them think what they want. If they care enough to bother with what I do, then I’m already better than them.”

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