Color footage of a young Marilyn Monroe as a model for the Blue Book Model Agency

In the mid 1940s, Marilyn Monroe joined the Blue Book Model Agency, the largest agency in Los Angeles. During this same time she bleached her brunette hair to give herself a golden blonde look, as Miss Emmeline Snively, who ran the agency, needed someone with lighter hair. Monroe became an instant success, appearing in several pinup magazine covers. Her success attracted several other organizations to seek for her, however Ben Lyon, an executive with 20th Century Fox was able to get her first and arrange a screen test for her. The screen test went very well for Marilyn who was able to impress Ben Lyon. After the test she was given a stand six month contract which saw her earn a weekly salary of 125 dollars.


“I got a cold chill. This girl had something I hadn’t seen since silent pictures. She had a kind of fantastic beauty like Gloria Swanson, when a movie star had to look beautiful, and she got sex on a piece of film like Jean Harlow”.Leon Shamroy, on Marilyn’s 1946 screen test

"I remember she impressed me more off the screen than on…there was something touching and appealing about her.”  - John Huston, director of The Misfits and The Asphalt Jungle

"When you look at Marilyn on the screen, you don’t want anything bad to happen to her. You really care that she should be all right…happy.”
Natalie Wood  

“She had a great natural dignity and was extremely intelligent. She was also exceedingly sensitive.”  - Edith Sitwell, poet

“Marilyn is as near a genius as any actress I ever knew. She is an artist beyond artistry. She is the most completely realized and authentic film actress since Garbo. She has that same unfathomable mysteriousness. She is pure cinema.” - Joshua Logan, director of Bus Stop 

"She was an absolute genius as a comedic actress, with an extraordinary sense for comedic dialogue. It was a God-given gift. Believe me, in the last fifteen years there were ten projects that came to me, and I’d start working on them and I’d think, ‘It’s not going to work, it needs Marilyn Monroe.’ Nobody else is in that orbit; everyone else is earthbound by comparison.” - Billy Wilder, director of Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch

"Marilyn Monroe is the greatest farceuse in the business, a female Chaplin.” - Jerry Wald, producer 

“This is no dumb blonde. She’s got guts. She saw herself drowning in Hollywood in 1955 and told her studio, “I’m not going on just wiggling my behind.” She moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio. I met her there. We developed a brother-sister relationship. She often baby-sat with my kids. Marilyn is not any one thing; she’s multidimenstional - she’s cute, sexy, naive, difficult and insecure. On the set she’s a fun-loving girl, cutting up and joking with the crew… As an actress she has lots of imitators - but only Marilyn survives. Why? Because people sense something real and helpless from her on that screen; they want to protect this girl and she makes them ashamed for having thought any dirty thoughts about her” - Eli Wallach

“She listens, wants, cares. Marilyn has amazing intuition-and her perceptions are razor-sharp. Out of these damned responsive eyes of hers flickers thought after thought. She and I talk a lot about new York, which we both love. Like me, she lives there now between pictures. Hollywood is a world of self-stokers, where sanity depends on a sense of humor. Marilyn has it - in spades. No subtiety of humor escapes her. I catch her laughing across the room and I bust up.Every pore of that lovely translucent skin is alive, open every moment - even though this could make her vulnerable to being hurt. I would rather work with her than any other actress. I adore her.” - Montgomery Clift

“Everything Marilyn does is different from any other woman, strange and exciting…from the way she talks to the way she uses that magnificent torso. One thing we have in common is that people look for sexy scenes in my movies, and they certainly expect it from Marilyn. I’ve always liked blondes. And they’re a good combination for me on screen - some of my most successful pictures were opposite blondes: Jean Harlow, Lana Turner, Grace Kelly. Actually there are remarkable physical similarities between Harlow and Monroe, and both made their mark on comedy. But Harlow was always very relaxed; she made no effort to be funny - and often didn’t know she was. This girl is high-strung, and she worries more - about her lines, her appearance, her performance. She’s constantly trying to improve as an actress. I’m convinced that in this picture, Marilyn shows depth that will make people stop thinking of her as just a ‘sexpot’.” - Clark Gable

"I based a lot of Roslyn, the girl in my Misfits screenplay, on Marilyn. Marilyn identifies powerfully with all living things, but her extraordinary embrace of life is intermingled with great sadness. In the picture Roslyn dances in the woods, longing for the stability of a tree, sad that she can’t be at one with Nature’s beauty. Marilyn’s tremendous empathy for people and animals is reflected in the movie too… Frank Taylor, our producer, says ‘Marilyn hates cages for birds, leashes for dogs and halters for herself.’ He’s right. To understand Marilyn best, you have to see her around children. They love her; her whole approach to life has their kind of simplicity and directness. I have not really helped her as an actress. Marilyn has perfected herself. She can imply the world in a look. The thing is, Marilyn has become a sort of fiction for writers; each one seens her through his own set of pleasures and prejudices.” - Arthur Miller

Happy Birthday Marilyn Monroe (1st June 1926)