Sixty years on, Monroe still sexiest woman ever

MARILYN Monroe is the sexiest woman ever. No argument. Those accentuated, full-pointed breasts; the sinuous figure and sensuous curves; that sexy walk with those swaying hips. The sultry look, the dreamy, come-hither eyes and kissable lips make Monroe the sexiest woman ever — bar none.

That skirt-billowing scene in The Seven Year Itch was every voyeur’s dream. The ‘little-girl innocence’ — frowned on today with suspicion — made the Hollywood star every man’s dream and I make little apology for saying what might not now seem PC.

When you visualise Marilyn Monroe, it’s the blonde hair, red lip, full lashes. But the star actually started out her career as a fresh-faced brunette. While her beauty look quickly evolved as her career took off, Monroe continued to experiment with her hair and makeup, wearing her iconic curls in a variety of styles.

Sixty years ago, on a Sunday, August 5, Marilyn Monroe’s body was found stretched out and naked on her bed clutching a telephone. An empty bottle of sleeping pills lay nearby. The alleged tragic overdose — for the conspiracy theories involving the Kennedy brothers John F and Robert still abound — robbed the world of its most iconic female star.

She was just 36.

Robert Kennedy, who ‘inherited’ Monroe as a mistress from his brother, the then 49th US president, had just ended their five-year affair. The Hollywood legend was said to have been left “distraught, heartbroken and feeling abused by the Kennedys.’’

All these years later, men — men of my age that is, as a young colleague says few under 40 know who she is, which is their loss really — are still fascinated by her. And 60 years after her death, she regularly makes $8m every year, according to Forbes magazine — no mean feat for a dead, allegedly dumb, blonde. Her image has been used to sell perfume, Dom Perignon champagne, Volkswagen and Visa cards, not to mention T-shirts, coffee mugs and posters. Her iconic pink satin dress, worn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and in which she sang Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, was sold recently for $256,000.

Perhaps the most iconic Monroe garment was worn by her when she infamously sang Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in 1962. The dress, which fetched millions eight years ago at auction in Los Angeles, will forever be marked in the history books thanks to Monroe’s sensual performance at the famous New York venue. The star walked on stage and peeled away her white ermine fur coat, revealing a skin-tight, sheer, flesh-coloured dress that sparkled with 2,500 hand-stitched crystals. The custom Jean Louis creation was so tight-fitting that Monroe wore nothing underneath — and had to be sewn into the dress at the last minute.

Monroe once famously said: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul.” Men of my age would pay a ransom for that kiss.

The star, born Norma Jean Mortensen, had a hard upbringing, with an arranged marriage when she was just 16. On the silver screen though, her carnality, yet innocence, made her Hollywood’s most enduring sex symbol.

The dumb blonde I don’t buy. Her diaries, published some years back, give an insight into a more intellectual side, featuring poems and musings on Italian Renaissance art, the writings a reminder that Monroe was more than just a pretty face. “She was a great reader and someone with real writing flair,” Courtney Hodell, then an editor at Straus and Giroux, told me back in 2012. “There are fragments of poetry that are really quite beautiful, lines that stop you in your tracks.”

Other diary entries reflect the thrice-married star’s reluctance to be typecast as the token sex symbol, a role that, perhaps sadly, ultimately defined her. “Being a sex symbol is a heavy load to carry, especially when one is tired, hurt and bewildered,” Monroe once revealed.

For me, and hundreds of thousands like me, it is this duality of sexuality and vulnerability that makes the mystery of Marilyn Monroe as alluring now as ever.

She is ranked as the sixth greatest female actor of all time by the American Film Institute. To understand why — and do yourself a favour if, like my colleague, you are under 40 — check out Bus Stop and Some Like It Hot, for starters.

And then tell me I’m a deluded old man.

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