TIME Icons

Marilyn Monroe at Home in Hollywood: Color Portraits, 1953

LIFE.com presents color photos of the movie legend at her Hollywood home in 1953, when she was just 26 years old.

In a quiet tribute to Marilyn Monroe, LIFE.com presents a series of color pictures by Alfred Eisenstaedt, made at the movie legend’s Hollywood home more than 60 years ago, in the spring of 1953, when the actress was just 26. What’s perhaps most striking about these photos, especially in light of all we now know about Marilyn’s fraught and deeply sad life, is how relaxed, self-possessed and (dare we say it?) how happy she looks.

In 1953, her biggest, brightest roles—in Bus Stop, The Seven Year Itch, and the American Film Institute’s greatest American comedy of all time, Some Like It Hot—were still ahead of her, as were her unlucky marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller and her increasingly lonely, desperate last years. But it’s worth noting that she really does not resemble a legend, an icon or an idol in these pictures. Instead, she looks like a beautiful young woman evidently, and perhaps momentarily, at peace with herself and her place in the world.

All of that, of course, would soon change, and change for the worse.

But not yet, Eisensteadt’s portraits seem to say. Not yet.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Readers,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team