Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962), was an American actress, model, and singer who was famous for playing comedic "blonde bombshell" characters. She grew up in foster care, orphanages and kinship care. By the time she was 7, she'd been moved 7 times. Between the ages of 8 & 12, she had been moved 6 times.
Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortensen and went into care initially as a baby because Gladys, her mother, had postpartum depression (nothing is known of the father). At the age of 8 she returned to live with her mother for a while.
Gladys’ friend, Grace McKee, took an interest in Norma Jeane’s welfare. When Gladys was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, Grace became her legal guardian. Both women worked in the movie industry but it was Grace who was particularly keen on the charismatic young Norma Jeane becoming a movie star, thinking she could be the next Jean Harlow.
Norma Jeane did her best to fit in, to be a ‘good girl’ in her foster homes because she knew the alternative was an orphanage. But being a ‘good girl’ didn’t protect her. She was raped at the age of 8 by her foster father, sexually assaulted by Grace’s new husband when she was 11 and her 14 year old cousin attempted to rape her when she was 12.
Grace eventually placed Norma in the Los Angeles Orphans Home. The orphanage was "a model institution" and was described in positive terms by her peers, but Monroe felt abandoned.
Monroe was a top-billed actress for only a decade, but her films grossed $200 million (equivalent to $2 billion in 2019) by the time of her death. More than half a century later, she continues to be a major popular culture icon.
On August 4, 1962, she died at age 36 from an overdose of barbiturates at her home in Los Angeles. Her death was ruled a probable suicide, although several conspiracy theories have been proposed in the decades following her death.