With her platinum blonde hair and signature red lipstick, Marilyn Monroe (who would have celebrated her 91st birthday on the 1st of June) is easily one of the most iconic celebrities of all time, however, only a few know what the actress looked like before she was famous.


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Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Monroe had a really tough childhood. She moved from one foster home to another, going through traumatic experiences in almost all of them. She was sexually abused and even started developing a stutter. Monroe married at the age of sixteen, but that didn’t bring her happiness as well.

Everything changed in 1944 when Monroe was working in a military factory where she was introduced to a photographer from the U.S. Army Air Force’s First Motion Picture Unit. This relationship propelled Marilyn’s pin-up modeling career, and the work eventually led to film contracts with Twentieth Century Fox and Columbia Pictures.

Soon she became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and was instantly recognizable, but a troubled girl still hid beneath the fame. Monroe committed suicide in 1962. She is remembered as a popular culture icon and a sex symbol, however, most forget her troublesome roots when she was just a regular girl in the neighborhood. Scroll down to meet the sincere Norma Jeane Mortenson before she became Marilyn Monroe.

(h/t: all-that-is-interesting)

The future American actress Marilyn Monroe smiling as a 10-months old baby (April 1927)

Image credits: Mandadori Portfolio/Getty Images

A young Norma Jeane Mortenson with her mother, Gladys Baker (1929)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Mortenson at five years old (1931)

Image credits: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

An adolescent Norma Jeane Mortenson staying at her Aunt Ana’s place. Aunt Ana’s was one of the many homes she would live in through her difficult childhood as an orphan (1938)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Mortenson at 14 years old. After her Aunt Ana got sick, Norma Jeane had to move in with the Goddard family. She had lived there before, but left their home when she was 11 when her legal guardian, Erwin Goddard, molested her (1940)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A teenaged Norma Jeane Mortenson (center) at an outdoor fete with a group of friends (1941)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A teenaged Norma Jeane Mortenson (center) and her friends in a rowboat (1941)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Mortenson poses for a photo with a friend and her baby (1941)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Mortenson at the zoo, with a hornbill on her arm (1941)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Young Norma Jeane Mortenson plays with penguins at the zoo (1941)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Mortenson as a 15-year-old beauty queen. This would be her last year as a single woman (1941)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At the age of 16, Norma Jeane Mortenson married James Dougherty (June 19, 1942)

Image credits: Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Dougherty, Bridal portrait, Age 16 (1942)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Newlywed Norma Jeane Dougherty goes out for Chinese food with her family (1942)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Mortenson with her husband, James Dougherty. When the pair met, he was her neighbor and five years her senior. The two had little in common. She would later say that they hardly spoke because “we had nothing to say.” (1943)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

James Dougherty, now a Merchant Marine, poses with his wife outside of boot camp. After he joined the Merchant Marines, the couple became increasingly distant. In 1944, he would be sent off to the Pacific. From then on, they would rarely see one another (1943)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Dougherty alone, with her husband’s boot camp in the distance (1943)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Dougherty working at the Radioplane Munitions Factory. While working at the factory, Norma Jeane was spotted by an Army propaganda officer.

Image credits: U.S. army photographer David Conover

He took this photo of her working at her post. It was the first modelling job of her life (1945)

Image credits: David Conover

Shortly after her photoshoot in the factory, she quit her job and tried modelling full time (1945)

Image credits: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

One of her first modeling shots (1945)

Image credits: David Conover

Early Portrait of Norma Joane (1945)

Image credits: David Conover

Norma Jeane posing in the gardens of the Ambassador Hotel holding the Blue Book Models life ring (1945)

An early Blue Book Modeling Agency picture of Marilyn Monroe in a white bikini (Circa 1945)

Norma Jean Began at the beginning of her modeling career (Circa 1945)

Image credits: Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

Skiing down a sand dune at a photoshoot (1945)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Posing during a Blue Book modeling shoot (1945)

Image credits: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Norma Jeane Dougherty gets intimately close to another model to film an ad for hair products. James Dougherty strongly disapproved of his wife’s new career. Less than a year after this photo was taken, their marriage would fall apart and the pair would get divorced (1945)

Image credits: Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Norma Jeane becomes a “Sweater Girl.” (1945)

Image credits: David Conover

The Blue Book Modelling Years (Circa 1945)

Norma Jeane sitting with her legs out, wearing bikini (1945)

Douglas Airview magazine employed models to advertise its American Airlines flights. Here, Norma Jeane shows great interest in the stewardess handing milk (1945)

Image credits: Larry Kronquist

Norma Jeane at the pool (1945)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Norma Jeane poses in a swimsuit (Circa 1945)

A young Marilyn Monroe is a picture of joy in a white one-piece bathing suit (Circa 1945)

Norma Jeane’s first national magazine cover, in 1946 for The Family Circle, was incredibly sweet, wholesome and innocent

Posing for a postcard by the sea (Circa 1946)

Image credits: Teichnor Bros

The Romantic negative of Norma Jeane (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Norma Jeane with yellow skirt (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Yellow Skirt, Gene Hansen’s Sycamore (March 1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Norma Jeane in a hunting with binoculars (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Posing with a puppy on a bicycle (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

In red sweater, Gene Hansen’s Sycamore (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Norma Jeane in a red bathing suit (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Floating in a pool (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Norma Joane wearing a white bathing suit by a swimming pool (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Sitting on a towel, hugging her knees (1946)

Image credits: Richard C. Miller

Norma Jeane posing in Malibu. Her lover and photographer behind the photo said “She was twenty and had never experienced the intoxication of success, yet already there was a shadow over her radiance, in her laughter” (1946)

Image credits: André de Dienes