Thoughts on a Sad Anniversary

Bert Stern, 1962

“The star born Norma Jean Mortensen suffered an almost Dickensian childhood of hardship, which culminated in an arranged marriage to a neighbour’s son when she was just 16. But on the silver screen Norma Jean created a glittering, carefree and carnal image that made her Hollywood’s most enduring sex symbol. It is that sensuously hedonistic yet innocent image fans still fall head over heels in love with.” – John Costello, Irish Independent

“She brought out a protective impulse in people. And, in my opinion, that is part of her movie magic. She was not a sassy sex symbol who ‘owned’ her sexuality. She did not seem calculating about it. There was always the wide-eyed innocence there, in spite of the body made for lovin’ – and that somehow engendered a protective response in audiences … male AND female – so she was one of those very rare movie creatures: a sex symbol whom men loved and desired, but also whom women respected and looked up to … and I think it had something to do with that fragmented innocence peering out of her radiant face. She seemed unaware of the responses she brought up in men, and she never seemed out for sex – the Marilyn Monroe persona was all about finding love. Her gifts as an actress and comedienne are obvious – but her appeal is still rather complicated, which, I suppose, is why people still obsess over her, and talk about her, and pick her apart.” Sheila O’Malley

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