Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

She was born on 1 June 1926 in the Los Angeles County Hospital, the third child of Gladys Baker. She lived with a number of foster parents, as her mother was mentally unstable, until her mum's best friend Grace Mckee became her guardian.

Mckee was inspired by Jean Harlow and allowed the nine-year-old Norma to wear makeup and curl her hair until McKee married and sent Norma to an orphanage. She was then sent to live with her great aunt Olive Brunings and it is thought that Norma was sexually assaulted by Olive's son, which some biographers have claimed led to her later behaviour, including substance abuse. At 16, she escaped her old life by marrying a 21-year-old aircraft plant worker, Jim Dougherty, who she divorced four years later. By this time she had begun modelling bathing suits and, after bleaching her hair blonde, posed for pin-ups and glamour photos.