Marilyn Monroe has become one of the most enduring American icons of the 20th century. Images of her in such films as "The Seven-Year Itch" and "Some Like It Hot" have become fixtures on the American cultural panorama along with Babe Ruth at the plate and Norman Rockwell paintings.
But before she was an icon — even before she was Marilyn Monroe — she was Norma Jeane Mortensen, and she lived in the San Fernando Valley.
Born in 1926, her mother suffered a severe nervous breakdown nine years later. After her mother was committed to a state mental institution for a stay that lasted six years, Norma Jeane came to live with her mother's friend, Grace Goddard, and her husband, Doc. In 1939, the Goddards moved with Norma Jeane to a house on Odessa Street in Van Nuys.
She was raised by a series of foster parents and, after her first marriage to James Dougherty, she began working as a model. She appeared on the cover of a number of men's magazines, which got the attention of Twentieth Century Fox.
She signed a one-year contract with Fox, which the studio let expire. Monroe did freelance modeling and acting work until she appeared in "All About Eve," and Fox signed her again.
She went on to appear in "Don't Bother to Knock" (1953), "Clash by Night" (1952), "Monkey Business" (1952), "How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953), "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953) and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954).
In all, Monroe appeared in 23 motion pictures that grossed about $200 million.
Her high-profile second and third marriages to baseball great Joe DiMaggio and Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller ended in divorce.
Her death at 36 remains one of Hollywood's most compelling, and unforgettable, mysteries.
Monroe's body was found naked and facedown on her bed in her Brentwood home in August 1962.
An autopsy conducted by Dr. Thomas Noguchi, then deputy medical examiner, concluded that death was due to acute barbiturate poisoning, and a psychiatric team tied to the investigation termed it a "probable suicide."