In the spirit of the Oscars, I am counting down the next seven days by honoring some of the strongest women in Classic Film. Today, I feature Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe

  • She was an early devotee of yoga, and was taught by Indra Devi, a Swedish-Russian Bollywood film star who also taught Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson.
  • Best known for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959).
  • Won a Golden Globe in 1960 for Some Like It Hot.
  • Marilyn was only the second woman to head her own production company (Mary Pickford was the first).

Did you know? Writers loved her. Jean-Paul Sartre wanted her to play the role of a hysterical patient in the film Freud, for which he wrote the first draft of a screenplay; she was Truman Capote’s first choice for the part of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Why I like her: She’s been gone for almost 55 years – 55 YEARS! – and she is still written about like she passed away last year. It’s a testament to her influence.

Favorite Quote

My problem is that I drive myself… I’m trying to become an artist, and to be true, and sometimes I feel I’m on the verge of craziness, I’m just trying to get the truest part of myself out, and it’s very hard. There are times when I think, ‘All I have to be is true’. But sometimes it doesn’t come out so easily. I always have this secret feeling that I’m really a fake or something, a phony.

Her personal library contained over 400 books on topics ranging from art to history, psychology, philosophy, literature, religion, poetry, and gardening. Many of the volumes, auctioned in 1999, bore her pencil notations in the margins.

She had a depth to her that no one could see because they didn’t look much past the platinum blonde hair and curves. She always had to prove herself. So I honor her for everything she was – messes and all.