Marilyn Monroe: 50 Years After Her Death
(NEW YORK) -- Sunday marks 50 years since the death of Marilyn Monroe.
Monroe's death at her Brentwood, Calif. home on Aug. 5, 1962 at the age of 36 was officially ruled a probable suicide by overdose, but Donnelle Dadigan, the president and founder of The Hollywood Museum, which houses a large Monoe exhibit, says in her opinion, there's no way it was suicide.
Dadigan tells ABC News Radio, "She had two contracts for two new movies in front of her at the time. She had finally bought her first home. She received a shipment of custom furnishings for her home the day before she passed away."
"I don't know that this is all behavior of someone who wanted to take their own life. ... I believe there was another hand involved in this," Dadigan says.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, she never knew her father, and her mother spent years grappling with mental illness, leaving Norma Jeane to an early life of orphanages and foster homes. But through a unique combination of grit, guts and good looks, she went on to become one of Hollywood's biggest and most enduring stars.
While she got her start as a model, Marilyn Monroe -- a first name Hollywood producers suggested, coupled with her grandmother's maiden name -- appeared in bit parts as an up-and-coming actress.
However, she soon went on to conquer Hollywood, thanks to performances in classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire and Some Like It Hot. She brought to the silver screen -- and to American pop culture -- her own unique blend of sass and sex appeal.
Monroe attracted some of the celebrity world's most eligible men, like ex-husbands Yankee great Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, but also some decidedly ineligible ones: rumors she had affairs with both President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert also led to her mystique.
Dadigan tells ABC News Radio part of the reason we love Marilyn Monroe so much is what she symbolizes. "She represented a wonderful time ... in the lives of Americans and in a great generation," says Dadigan, who explained Monroe's short life ironically fueled her longevity. "We still see her as the beautiful 36-year old. You know, very glamorous, very sexy, very sensual, very beckoning. She got frozen in time."
Jamie Salter, the CEO of Authentic Brands Group, which owns the estate of Marilyn Monroe and has the rights to license her name and likeness, agrees, telling ABC News Radio the legend's appeal isn't limited to those who remember Marilyn when she was alive.
"Her demographic today, between the ages of 15 and 35, is 50 percent of her fan base ... So ... she's going to live for a very very long time. Because you have 15 year olds growing up now loving her."
As far as merchandising, Salter tells ABC News Radio, "She would be right beside Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga and Madonna, if Marilyn were here today and she were 36."
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