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c. 1950

Auditioning Marilyn Monroe

This set of pictures is not a staged photoshoot. Marilyn really is one of the actresses looking for a part.

Even Marilyn Monroe had to fill out a form.  Behold, the 24-year-old Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson) was definitely not immune to the trials of the auditioning process.

Acting wasn’t second nature

Make no mistake, Norma Jeane desperately wanted to act. Her career had begun only six years before, when she was photographed while working at a drone factory during World War II. David Conover, a USAF photographer, was sent to snap the workers and with his encouragement, Norma Jeane quit in order to model full time.

The roles, however, were not immediately forthcoming. Marilyn spent time as possible at the studio learning everything she could about the movie business.  A couple of (very) bit parts came her way, but her experience really came from her enrollment in an acting school — which she loved. As she said, it was to be “my first taste of what real acting in a real drama could be, and I was hooked.”

One of the hardest working models ever

And model she did, joining an agency in the summer of 1945.  The agency owner would go on record to say that Norma Jeane was one of the hardest working of all the models. Within six months, her face had graced more than 30 U.S. magazine covers.

But acting was her real love, and Norma Jeane signed with an acting agency in June 1946. That led to her being contracted by 20th Century Fox for six months, and she and a studio exec chose the name “Marilyn Monroe.”

This set of pictures is not a staged photoshoot. Marilyn really is one of the actresses looking for a part.

Still, Marilyn had to wait; 20th Century Fox did not renew her contract. But Marilyn did continue at acting school, funding it from her own pocket. She also networked — a lot — and through one such relationship, was signed by Columbia in 1948. But after only one low budget film, she was dropped once more.

This set of photos date from the period after Columbia, and before the seven-year-deal she secured her at the end of 1950. In other words, this set of pictures is not a staged photoshoot; Marilyn really is one of the actresses looking for a part, in this case at the newly opened Players Ring Theatre in LA.  The name of the play was not recorded.

Not that it really matters. Whatever the part was, she didn’t get it.

The Gallery

Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images
Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images

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