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'Blonde' highlights Marilyn Monroe's relationships, stardom

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UPI reporter Vernon Scott interviews Marilyn Monroe in 1952. The star's life is once again inspiration for a movie, with Netflix's "Blonde," which was released Wednesday. UPI File Photo | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/241f488874927915d4c33f143203a52a/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
UPI reporter Vernon Scott interviews Marilyn Monroe in 1952. The star's life is once again inspiration for a movie, with Netflix's "Blonde," which was released Wednesday. UPI File Photo | License Photo

Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The latest depiction of actress Marilyn Monroe, Netflix's Blonde, leans in to its fictional portrayal.

Ana de Armas gets high praise from critics for her portrayal of the late Hollywood star, down to the iconic breathy voice. Never pretending to be entirely truthful, the adaptation of the best-selling 2000 novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates presents a fictionalized take.

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Interviews with Monroe and other clippings in the UPI Archive depict moments from her true story. Here are some highlights.

Monroe has captivated the public's attention for decades since her death from a lethal overdose of prescription drugs on Aug. 5, 1962. Since then, more than 200 books have been written about her, including three full biographies. One of the more notable ones is 1993's Marilyn Monroe: The Biography by Donald Spoto, whose research included 35,000 personal and professional documents.

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Born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, Monroe went from a happy but troubled childhood to one of the most iconic big-screen stars of all time, despite her death at age 36.

Monroe's first of three marriages began when she was 16 and lasted for four years. Working in a factory while her husband was overseas during World War II, she met a photographer who would take her first pin-up modeling shots, beginning her journey to fame. When she made it, those previous pinups became a national talking point.

In 1952, Monroe told UPI that she was the nude blonde in a 1952 calendar hanging in garages and barbershops across the United States. The actress admitted posing, stretched out on crumpled red velvet, for the artistic photo because, "I was broke and needed the money."

"Oh, the calendar's hanging in garages all over town. Why deny it? You can get one any place," she said at the time.

"Besides, I'm not ashamed of it. I've done nothing wrong."

Monroe cemented her status as the signature beautiful blonde in films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or How to Marry a Millionaire, but also won critical acclaim for Some Like It Hot and her role in Bus Stop. The latter was released a year after her fairytale marriage to the "The Yankee Clipper," Joe DiMaggio.

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Monroe's marriage to the former baseball star lasted less than two years. The starlet won an uncontested divorce from DiMaggio in 1954, arguing tearfully in her testimony that the retired baseball star treated her with "coldness and indifference."

The famed actress, her voice often breaking with emotion, told a judge that the former New York Yankees star was moody and even refused to allow her to have friends in their home. Superior Court Judge Orlando Rhodes granted the divorce after just 15 minutes of testimony.

Monroe went on to marry American playwright and screenwriter Arthur Miller. That union, the longest of her marriages at five years, ended with the couple's divorce in 1961. The same year, she sang "Happy Birthday" to then-President John F. Kennedy in what became one of the most iconic moments of her career.

Rumors of an affair between Monroe and Kennedy quickly circulated. Blonde embraces the topic of the dangerous liaison in a particularly graphic scene. Rumors would persist long after her death in 1962, which was ruled a probable suicide.

In August 1982, the district attorney ordered an investigation into the actress' death, almost 20 years to the day after it happened.

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Reports disputed the official ruling that Monroe, depressed and alone, locked her bedroom door that Saturday night and died by suicide with an overdose of barbiturates.

That same year, a former coroner's aide who said he was coerced into signing Monroe's death certificate claimed the star's drug overdose "was murder," but admitted he had no evidence. Lionel Grandison also said her diary contained notes about a plot to murder Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

A few years later, unfounded rumors resurfaced that Monroe's death was part of a plot involving the Kennedy family.

"The rumors resurface each time a book is published about the actress," UPI Hollywood reporter Vernon Scott wrote in 1985.

"Many hint at a conspiracy by the late Robert Kennedy to prevent her from going public about supposed affairs with himself and John F. Kennedy during his presidency."

Former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates attempted to quell some rumors in 1985, releasing a report he hoped would dispel 23 years of speculation that Monroe was murdered and that authorities covered it up.

Monroe's last words were a farewell to John F. Kennedy, actor Peter Lawford and his wife in a phone call she made to Lawford hours before she was found dead, the report found.

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"Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to Jack and say goodbye to yourself, because you're a nice guy," Monroe said, according to Lawford at the time.

Gone 50 years, her legacy and popularity endures.

Andy Warhol's famous silkscreen artwork of Monroe sold for close to $200 million in May, setting a new record for any piece of art sold by an American artist at auction. Warhol created the 40-by-40-inch piece in 1964.

The piece, titled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, sold for $195 million to an anonymous buyer during the auction at Christie's in New York City.

Blonde is streaming on Netflix.

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