From Norma Jean To Icon: Marilyn Monroe’s Profound Impact On Society

Early Life and Struggles

“No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t” (Marilyn Monroe). Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jean Mortensen on June 1, 1926. Her mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe, had a complicated relationship with her previous husband, children, and Norma’s biological father. Gladys recorded Norma’s last name incorrectly as Mortenson rather than Mortensen. The person listed on Norma Jean’s birth certificate as her father did not exist.

Before she ever saw herself as Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jean struggled with her self-identity. Only 12 days after her birth, Norma was sent to live with Wayne and Ida Bolender. Gladys lived with her best friend Grace McKee-Goddard, whose house was across the street from the Bolender’s 2-acre farm. Grace was a big part of Norma’s life. Living with different families became a staple for Norma, but Grace always made sure she had a safe place to stay. She could always tell when it was time to move to the next house.

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For a while, Norma lived with Grace and her husband, Erwin “Doc” Goddard. One night, Doc went into Norma’s room and raped her. After that, Norma was moved to an orphanage. Not many families were looking to adopt a teenage girl. By this time, Gladys had already been admitted to a mental hospital, and there was nowhere else for Norma to go. Between never knowing her father and her scarce relationship with her mother, Norma Jean began to see the people around her as temporary and untrustworthy. The people caring for her could hand her off anytime they did not want to take care of her anymore.

From Norma to Marilyn: The Rise to Stardom

When Norma Jean turned sixteen, Grace arranged for her to marry a then twenty-one-year-old Jim Dougherty. Without the marriage, Norma would have been forced to return to an orphanage until she turned eighteen. Jim and Norma had a unique relationship. They did not love one another, yet they got along quite well. One year after the wedding, Jim decided to enlist in the Merchant’s Marine. Norma felt alone while Jim was away, and she needed something that could both keep her busy and support her financially. Jim’s mother took Norma in and got her a job at Radio Plane, an aircraft plant. One day, a photographer named Conover came to the plant to photograph some of the more attractive women working there to boost the soldiers’ morale. He came across Norma and quickly snapped a picture. After seeing her potential in the photograph, Conover asked Norma to pose again.

Conover and Norma created a portfolio, and he introduced Norma to Emmeline Snively, a modeling agency. Norma Jean’s success in modeling became evident when she appeared in five magazines in one month. 20th-Century Fox’s casting agent, Brent Lyon, wanted an introduction after hearing about Norma. Once the screen test had been completed and approved by Darryl Zanuck, vice president of productions, Fox offered Norma Jean her first movie contract. Fox was the company that brought Marilyn Monroe into the spotlight.

Marilyn Monroe: The Screen Siren

Lyon decided Norma Jean Mortenson needed a new name. She already felt as though her name did not fit, so she did not object to the idea of having a new name. Lyon felt Norma should be named Marilyn. Norma wanted to keep some part of her past with her on this new adventure, so she decided to keep her mother’s maiden name. Little did they know Marilyn Monroe would become one of the most iconic movie stars of the 1950s.

Marilyn Monroe played many small parts as a budding actress. Those who saw her movies did not know her name, yet left the theatre wanting to see more of the “hot blonde.” Her song “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” became the most popular part of one of her first big movies, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” People craved not only the emotional attributes Marilyn brought to the stage while acting but also the way she looked on screen. Her looks captivated the audience.

Being adored by audiences was appealing to Marilyn. When she was growing up, Marilyn never felt as though her presence was valued. So, being cherished by thousands of fans was comforting. Marilyn loved walking down the street because the paparazzi would take pictures of her, or she would hear guys whistling at her. As a movie star, she gained a sense of stability from her fans, but her work quickly became debilitating. Marilyn was getting less and less sleep. Her condition escalated to the point where she became dependent on sleeping pills. In the morning, Marilyn would show up at the studio late and tired. Her performance in front of a rolling camera was spectacular; however, once the cameras turned off, she immediately looked to her acting coach for confirmation. Marilyn was in a constant state of worry when it came to her acting.

Recognition, Struggles, and Mystery

It took the media many years to recognize Marilyn was not just an attractive person on the screen. Newspapers and magazines finally began to realize Marilyn Monroe’s talent after the release of her movie “Bus Stop” in 1956. Every movie she stared at was a hit. Marilyn Monroe was no longer just the “hot blonde.” By 1959, Marilyn had been married three times, had two miscarriages, and starred in 24 movies. Marilyn Monroe led a stressful life. Many times, she turned to alcohol and sleeping pills to ease her mind.

In the early morning hours of August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home. Her cause of death was ruled as an overdose of sleeping pills. By the time her body was discovered, she had been dead for a long time. Marilyn is said to have called many people during her last night of life. When reporters attempted to obtain Marilyn’s phone records, they were told the FBI had already collected them. Her phone records were never found.


  1. Spoto, D. (2001). Marilyn Monroe: The Biography. HarperCollins.
  2. Monroe, M., & Hecht, B. (2007). My story. Taylor Trade Publications.
  3. Banner, L. W. (2012). Marilyn: The passion and the paradox. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.
  4. Wolfe, D. H. (1998). The last days of Marilyn Monroe. William Morrow & Co.
  5. Churchwell, S. (2004). The many lives of Marilyn Monroe. Macmillan.

How The Little Rock Nine Impact The Civil Rights Movement


In both ten years, Derrick and Kyle are best friends who almost do everything together secretly. Derrick and Kyle have to keep their friendship secret because they are living in a time where it is not easy for black people and white people to be friends. Kyle and Derrick met by a park where Derrick was being pushed around and bullied by a group of racist white boys. Loudly calling Derrick a “nigger” Kyle rushed over to help Derrick. Defending Derrick started a new friendship between the two. Kyle and Derrick lived right up the street from each other; they began hanging out in abandoned places, sharing toys and snacks with each other. On Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, Kyle and Derrick would always meet up because on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Kyle would have to go to tutoring. Derrick always wondered how it felt to go to a school with such nice things. Kyle will always show Derrick the new books the school has and the new things he learned in school. Although both of the kids were 10, Kyle was academically further than Derrick because Derrick School didn’t receive enough funding for the school to receive new things.

Kyle always suggested that Derrick should come to his school and that Derrick would love the school Kyle attended, but Derrick knew he couldn’t attend Kyle’s school because of the color of his skin. Kyle attended an all-white school where money wasn’t really an issue; the school was in good shape and had good hygiene. Whereas derricks school, where all blacks and kids of color were allowed, was barely holding on. Receiving old, outdated books, little to no help with the plumbing, and being overcrowded, Derrick School could not compete with Kyle School. After Derrick and Kyle would finish hanging out and head home, Derrick would always ask his mom why he wasn’t allowed to go to the same school as Kyle, and his mother would reply in honesty that some white people just don’t think we are not good enough to receive the same treatment as them. When Kyle would go home and ask his mother why black people don’t go to his school, she would say They have their own schools, honey; they receive an education, right? They can learn with each other just like you learn with your white friends. Honey, we are separate, but we are equal. The blacks will be okay with each other, and we will be fine with each other. The civil rights movement was a national movement led by African Americans to extend full rights to all citizens, regardless of race or creed. (1) This equality was wanted for all barriers, including in schools.

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The Courageous Struggle for Equality

The Little Rock Nine, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Carlotta Walls, significantly helped prove to the world that it was time for a change and weren’t going to let any racial slurs, threats and abuse stop them from using their rights for equality. The Little Rock Nine situation was the first of many schools to enforce the Brown Supreme Court case decision. It was the beginning of a new chapter in the civil rights movement; not only were the older black men and women taking action for equality, but so were the kids. Who understand they deserve the same education as white people because, unlike the Jim Crow laws, we are not separate, but we are definitely equal. An eight-year-old, Linda carol brown, was not able to go to an all-white school near her house because of the color of her skin in Topeka, Kansas. Her parents didn’t want little Linda to catch the bus to the nearest all-black school because it was too far from their home. Her parents decided to file a lawsuit in violation of the 14th Amendment, which stated, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  The case was handled by NAACP lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall, who emphasized the psychological and sociological evidence of the negative effects of mandated segregation.

Integration of Schools and the Brown Supreme Court Case

In defense of segregation, the school districts invoked Plessy and claimed that their all-black schools either had or would soon have equal funding for facilities and teachers’ salaries. The case eventually made it all the way up to the Supreme Court. In May of 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered in favor of Linda Carol Brown in the Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. This was the beginning of the movement of the Little Rock 9. In 1954, the Little Rock School Board decided they were ready to desegregate schools over a period of time, starting with high schools down to elementary. The district decided that the first few African American students would attend the all-white Central High School in 1957, then integrate middle schools in 1960, and then elementary schools in 1963. So many people opposed this idea, including the Capital Citizen’s Council in Little Rock and the Mother’s League of Central High. They tried to get a court order to stop the integration plan and succeeded, but the next day, after receiving their order, it was overturned by federal district judge Ronald Davies.

Confronting Adversity and Upholding Rights

On September 2, 1957, The Little Rock Nine was prevented from entering Central High School because the state governor Faubus claimed he needed to keep the peace. On September 20, Judge Davies ordered the troops to be removed from the school, finally allowing The Little Rock Nine to enter the school, but later, they were removed due to a crowd of over 1,000 people, putting the police in fear that the crowd might get in the school and hurt the students. On September 24, President Eisenhower sent 1,000 army’s 101st airborne divisions to Little Rock to avoid chaos and keep peace; this day was the first full day of school for The Little Rock Nine. You would think that the hard part was over, that finally getting inside the school was a safe haven. No, it wasn’t. All nine students were physically, mentally, and verbally abused and bullied.

Although guards walked students to class, they weren’t allowed to go into bathrooms and locker rooms where the abuse would happen, and unless a teacher saw it, nobody was to be punished. Terrence Roberts was hit on the head with a combination lock, Gloria Ray was pushed downstairs, and Melba Pattillos had acid thrown on her face, meeting contact with her eyes. Yet, these strong African-American students weren’t going to stop fighting for their rights. Finally, on May 25, 1958, Earnest Green became the first African American to graduate from Central High School. He stated, “I knew that I had accomplished what I’d come there for. I had cracked the wall.” In which he did. Governor Faubus closed all public schools in Little Rock in the school year of 1954-1959. Only two of the nine returned; the others pursued their educations elsewhere. All nine proceeded to college and became successful. These nine African-American men and women stood together through a rough school year to prove the importance of their rights and equality.

Enduring Legacy and Inspirational Impact

The Little Rock Nine didn’t just fight through it for them but for all the little black girls and boys who wanted to receive a fair education but weren’t able to. For their future kids and grandkids to receive a fair education. To prove to the white people that they aren’t going to let them continue to decelerate the progress of the black evolution. Just like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and other black historical figures who dramatically had an impact on the civil rights movements, The Little Rock Nine stood up for the future generation of black people and took the pain and cruelty during then so we wouldn’t have to deal with it now. The Little Rock Nine made a mark in the education system with the help of The Brown v. Board Of Education Case, and they took the win of the case and made it an endless victory.


  1. “Civil Rights Movement.” National Park Service.

  2. “14th Amendment.” Legal Information Institute. Cornell Law School.

  3. Lewis, Thomas Tandy. “Brown v. Board of Education.” Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2014.

  4. Mooney, Carla. “The Little Rock Nine.” Abdo Publishing, 2016.

  5. Lucas, Eileen and Adam Gustavson. “The Little Rock Nine Stand up for Their Rights.” Millbrook Press, 2011.

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