Marilyn Monroe On 'The Misfits' Set
Marilyn Monroe leans over the back of the front seat of a car on the set of 'The Misfits,' directed by John Huston, Nevada, 1960.  Ernst Haas—Getty Images

Read Marilyn Monroe's Obituary From 1962

Aug 05, 2015

When Marilyn Monroe died on Aug. 5, 1962, she left behind a series of contradictions. The actress panicked easily, but basked in public attention. She was sometimes troubled by her status as a sex symbol, yet she was willing to profit from it. It was a see-saw life, as TIME's obituary for the Hollywood icon made clear:

She had always been late for everything, but her truancy was never heedlessness. Beset by self-doubt and hints of illness, she would stay alone, missing appointments, keeping whole casts waiting in vain. In the past year, her tardiness was measured in weeks instead of hours. In 32 days on the set of Something's Got to Give, she showed up only 12 times, made only 7 ½ usable minutes of film. When fired from the picture, she sent telegrams of regrets to all the grips on the lot.

...She seemed euphonic and cheerful, even while 20th Century-Fox was filing suit against her in hopes of salvaging $750,000 damages from the wreckage of Something's Got to Give. She offered a photographer exclusive rights to nearly-nude shots of her from the set because, she said, "I want the world to see my body." Last week, she negotiated still another sale of a nude photograph to a picture magazine.

She spent her last day alive sunbathing, glancing over filmscripts. playing with two cloth dolls—a lamb and a tiger. She went to bed early, but later her housekeeper noticed light spilling through the crack under her bedroom door, and summoned doctors. They broke in through her windows and found Marilyn Monroe dead. By her bedside stood an empty bottle that three days before had held 50 sleeping pills. One hand rested on the telephone and the other was at her chin, holding the sheets that covered her body.

Read the full remembrance from 1962, here in the TIME Vault: The Only Blonde in the World

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Marilyn Monroe: A Life in Photos

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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