Marilyn Monroe on patio outside of her home, 1953.
Marilyn Monroe on the patio outside of her home, 1953.Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Marilyn Monroe on patio outside of her home, 1953.
Marilyn Monroe posing in studio, 1949.
Marilyn Monroe in dance class, 1949.
Marilyn Monroe in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California, 1950.
Marilyn Monroe in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California, 1950.
Marilyn Monroe Strikes a pose. 1950.
Marilyn Monroe talking on the phone while displaying her talents for movie producer Jerry Wald who is interviewing her for a role in Clifford Odets movie "Clash by Night" which he is producing, in his office. 1951.
Marilyn Monroe at the Club Del Mar, where she received the "Henrietta" award for Best Young Box Office Personality, given by the Foreign Press Association of Hollywood, 1952.
Marilyn Monroe at home, 1953.
Marilyn Monroe wearing her famous gold lame gown designed by Bill Travilla for a publicity still for the motion picture "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," 1953.
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in a scene for the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," 1953.
Tearful actress Marilyn Monroe coming out in front of home to face dozens of reporters after announcement of her divorce fr. baseball great Joe DiMaggio, 1954.
Robert Mitchum;Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe sitting on a piano in a scene from movie "River of No Return," 1954.
Marilyn Monroe attending the Premiere for 'East of Eden'. Astor Theater, New York City, 1955.
Marilyn Monroe and American playwright Arthur Miller sit in a Thunderbird convertible, 1956.
April in Paris Ball - Waldorf Astoria Hotel - Society Serves Charity and French-American relations in New York hosted by Mrs. William C.T. Gaynor. (L-R) Ambassador Winthrop Aldrich, ex-envoy to Britain chatting w. actress Marilyn Monroe as her husband, playwright Arthur Miller looks on, 1957.
Marilyn Monroe looking startled while holding flaming sparkler in the Rockefeller Center Sidewalk Superintendents Club during ceremony for soon to be built Time & Life Building as others look on., 1957.
Producer Kermit Bloomgarden (R) visiting with playwright Arthur Miller (C) & his wife, actress Marilyn Monroe, in their apartment, 1958.
Marilyn Monroe peering out at her husband Arthur Miller from behind a door to see if he approves, 1960.
Marilyn Monroe on the patio outside of her home, 1953.
Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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Marilyn Monroe's Life in Photos

Aug 05, 2015

When Marilyn Monroe died from a barbiturate overdose on Aug. 5, 1962, devastated fans searched for a way to cope. LIFE Magazine, whose cover Monroe had graced six times, offered up a tribute in a manner befitting not only its mission, but also its relationship with the star: a collection of photographs. As the editors wrote:

Her death has diminished the loveliness of the world in which we live. Her life was filled with sadness—a bleak childhood, three unhappy marriages, her inability to have children. But for all her seeking, trying, hoping and never finding, she has left us many beautiful images to remember.

Here, in that spirit, are LIFE’s most timeless images of one of the most celebrated, emulated and complicated celebrities of the 20th century.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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