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Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson and legally changed her name in March 1956​

Key Points:

  • Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson, later baptized as Norma Jeane Baker
  • Her stage name was suggested by studio executive Ben Lyon in 1946
  • Monroe legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in March 1956, months before marrying Arthur Miller

Marilyn Monroe, the legendary actress whose name became synonymous with Hollywood glamour, was not born with the iconic moniker that would later define her career and persona.

How Marilyn Monroe Got Her Iconic Stage Name?

Diamonds are a girl's best friend - Marilyn Monroe
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend – Marilyn Monroe

As per Times, In August 1946, when the young Norma Jeane Dougherty (her married name at the time) signed a contract with 20th Century Fox, the search for her new stage name began. Studio executive Ben Lyon played a pivotal role in this process, suggesting the name “Marilyn Monroe.”

According to Monroe biographer Donald Spoto, Lyon found Dougherty’s surname too complex for pronunciation. Norma Jeane proposed using “Monroe,” a surname from her mother’s side, while Lyon drew inspiration from the renowned Broadway star Marilyn Miller, whom he had worked with and found a resemblance to the young actress.

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The Transition to Marilyn Monroe: A Decade-Long Process

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

While the stage name “Marilyn Monroe” was chosen in 1946, it took nearly a decade for the actress to legally adopt it. In an October 1946 letter to a friend, she mentioned that “Clare Norman” was also being considered, and biographer Lois Banner notes that names like “Meredith” and “Carol Lind” were floated as well.

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However, “Marilyn Monroe” ultimately prevailed, and on February 23, 1956, just four months before her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, the actress legally changed her name from Norma Jeane Mortenson to the iconic moniker that would forever be associated with her.

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