Despite being one of the most influential actresses and models of her day, Monroe’s tale is one that is full of tragedy and heartache. Her personal and professional struggles weighed heavy on her soul, and ultimately they led to her death. But in a way, the fact that she met an untimely end only has further fueled the public’s fascination with her. As such, it’s not surprising that so many stars have portrayed her in the last 60 years.
Join Facts Verse as we take a look back at some of the actresses who have played Marilyn Monroe.
Goodbye Norma Jean is a biopic film that was released in 1976. In the movie, Monroe’s journey to stardom is chronicled with Rowe playing the lead role. Rowe did a fantastic job depicting the actress during her transition from Norma Jean – the birth name that Monroe went by during her teen years – to the Marilyn Monroe that we all know and love.
In the British film Insignificance, which hit theaters in 1985, audiences are presented with an alternate history that follows four famous characters who converged in a New York City Hotel one evening in 1954. These four iconic figures were Albert Einstein, Josephy McCarthy, Joe Dimaggio, and of course Marilyn Monroe.
While the film never explicitly calls these four by their real names, instead opting to refer to them as the physicist, senator, baseball player, and actress, it’s clear who they are meant to depict. The film was made as a parody of 1950s celebrity culture and politics.
Theresa Russell hit the ball out of the park playing the all-too-familiar soft-spoken Hollywood actress, and we’ve just got say, she looked terrific wearing that halter-neck white dress.
Before we cover several other actresses who have played Marilyn Monroe, take a moment to show us a little support by giving this video a like and subscribing to the Facts Verse channel.
Actress Paula Lane played Monroe in the 1989 film Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn. The movie was actually the follow-up to 1976s Goodbye, Norma Jean. In Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn, Misty Rowe reprised her role as young Norma Jean while Lane played the adult Monroe.
Throughout her career, Griffiths has portrayed the Some Like It Hot actress onscreen 12 times. In fact, she’s the actress who has played Marilyn the most significant number of times. She not only played her in the 1991 television film Marilyn and Me, but also in three different TV shows, Dark Skies, Timecop, and Quantum Leap.
In 1984, Madonna made pop culture history when she appeared in the music video for her song Material Girl. Not only was the video a sensation, but it went on to be nominated for two MTV VMAs. Notably in the video, Madonna recreated Monroe’s unforgettable pink dress moment from her Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The 2001 two-episode miniseries Blonde, which was also based on Joyce Carol Oate’s novel of the same name, starred actress Poppy Montgomery in the role of Marilyn. Montgomery would go on to find fame playing FBI agent Samantha Spade on the CBS mystery drama program Without a Trace. More recently, she played Detective Carrie Walls in the CBS police drama series Unforgettable
In the critically-acclaimed TV biopic film Norma Jean & Marilyn, the duality of Monroe’s two personas of Norma Jean and Marilyn are explored in detail. In the film, Mira Sorvino plays the iconic star at the peak of her professional career.
In the previously mentioned made-for-TV film, Norma Jean & Marilyn, Ashley Judd portrays Monroe’s younger self. Both she and Sorvino were nominated for Golden Globe awards for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Motion Picture for their performances in the film.
Blake Lively perfectly channeled Marilyn while wearing a gown similar to what she wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes when she appeared in a dream sequence in the hit CW show Gossip Girl.
William’s portrayal of Monroe in the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn is arguably the most critically acclaimed depiction of the actress featured in this video. Williams received BAFTA and Academy Award nominations for her performance as the actress in the film.
In the 2011 political miniseries The Kennedy’s, viewers got a glimpse into the private lives of the most powerful political family of the mid-20th century. Sullivan played Monroe during the time that she had her high-profile affair with President John F. Kennedy.
In the 1980 TV film Marilyn: The Untold Story, we got to see Hick’s show us what it was like for Monroe as she climbed up the ladder to stardom. We also saw a depiction of what her relationships were like with her agent, Johnny Hyde, and her three husbands, Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, and James Dougherty.
Niven depicted Monroe in a minor supporting role in the 1998 TV film The Rat Pack. In the film, Kennedy’s affair with Marilyn is hinted at, as well as her relationship with Tinsel Town’s high society.
In the acclaimed miniseries The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, which aired on Lifetime in 2015, Garner gave a powerful performance that showed off just how versatile of an actress she really is. The miniseries chronicles Monroe’s rocky family life – specifically her relationship with her mom Gladys Peal baker, portrayed by Susan Sarandon.
What’s more amazing considering how great of a job Garner did playing Marilyn was the fact that before signing on to the project, she wasn’t even a very big fan of the late star. She told Vanity Fair that while she wasn’t a big enthusiast of Monroe, she believed that every young actress has a little Marilyn in her.
Anderson played Monroe in the 1993 television film Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair. The film gave viewers a fictional account of Marilyn’s alleged affair with the late senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Uma Thurman, Megan Hilty, and Katherine McPhee
In 2012, these three actresses each took turns playing Monroe in the NBC musical drama television series Smash. The series is about the staging of a fictional Marilyn Monroe musical aptly named Bombshell.
Ana de Armas
De Armas is the latest star to portray Monroe on screen. She plays the late actress in the controversial new Netflix movie Blonde. While the film attempts to pay Monroe her due diligence, it takes a somewhat fictional look back on the deceased icon’s life.
Ana told The Sunday Times that it was very challenging to perfect Monroe’s famously breathy voice. She went on to tell the outlet that it took her nine months of dialect training and a few ADR sessions to get Marilyn’s signature vocal delivery down.
While the film has received a lukewarm reception from critics, de Arma has received rave reviews for her performance. According to a review by IndieWire, critic Sophie Monks Kaufman found that de Arma’s uncanny semblance to Monroe took the film ‘a long way’.
In another review published in The Hollywood Reporter, critic David Rooney found that de Arma’s raw performance strips the most over-analyzed woman in pop-culture history bare – both metaphorically and literally.
At 3:50 AM on the morning of August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was pronounced dead. It was later determined that she had passed away from acute barbiturate poisoning sometime between the hours of 8 and 10:30pm the previous evening.
According to the subsequent coroner’s report, it was ruled out that Marilyn had accidentally overdosed as the dosages found in her bloodstream were several times that of the lethal limit.
Monroe’s death has been the subject of intense speculation and debate over the years. Many of the more conspiratorial mindset believe that she was murdered while officially her death is still considered to be a suicide.
Regardless of the specifics, it’s clear that Marilyn Monroe’s legacy is still alive and well to this day. Ana de Armas may be the latest actress to portray the late blonde bombshell, but she certainly wont be the last. The public’s obsession with Marilyn Monroe is something that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We love tragedy – especially when it involves someone as iconic and influential as Monroe. Call it morbid or what have you, but it’s safe to say that Marilyn Monroe’s story will continue to be revisited time and time again well into the distant future.
Who would you like to see play Marilyn Monroe in the future, and who do you think has delivered the best performance as her so far? Let us know in the comments.
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