How Marilyn Monroe Changed Her Appearance For Hollywood

Marilyn Monroe was one of the most iconic stars in the 1950s up to the early 1960s, and she starred in 29 movies before her death of an accidental overdose in 1962 at the age of 36. To this day, her name is synonymous with Hollywood glamor and the perfect image of the blonde bombshell. Monroe was born Norma Jeane Baker in 1926. In 1944, she worked at a factory, and it was there where she was discovered by photographer David Conover, as reported by 29 Secrets. Conover was on an assignment to take photos of women working, and Monroe caught his eye. "She had curly ash blond hair and her face was smudged with dirt. I snapped her picture and walked on. Then I stopped, stunned. She was beautiful. Half child, half woman, her eyes held something that touched and intrigued me," he said.

That was the photo that sparked Monroe's career. In 1945, she quit her job at the factory and pursued modeling. Monroe was a natural beauty, but if she wanted to make it as a star, she was told that changes had to be made to enhance her appearance. The agency she signed up with — Blue Book Model Agency — convinced her to change her look, starting with her hair.

Marilyn Monroe's iconic hair

It was in 1946 when Marilyn Monroe had her hair done, but the transition from her darker hair color to her iconic platinum blond look was a gradual process. Sylvia Barnhart, who worked on Monroe, described her original hair as "brown and kinky." According to 29 Secrets, the first treatment left Monroe with a reddish-blond tint, and though the budding model was pleased with the outcome, she wanted to go lighter. That was done by lightening her color every time she had her hair done until the platinum blond color was achieved.

Monroe was also said to have undergone hairline electrolysis, a common procedure for celebrities that was done to change the hairline. In Monroe's case, it was done to remove her widow's peak, and it changed the shape of her face, per Marie Claire. Monroe also had pale skin that she wanted to maintain. In fact, she once said, "I'm personally opposed to a deep tan because I like to feel blonde all over" (via The Sydney Morning Herald). Part of her beauty regimen was the use of hormone cream on her face, which resulted in a peach fuzz beard. An expert on Monroe, Gene London, said executives in Hollywood wanted the facial hair removed but Monroe refused. "She said that when the light hit the fuzz it caused her face to have a soft glow, so they didn't have to photograph her through special lenses, lace, or Vaseline the way they did with so many stars."

Marilyn Monroe had cosmetic procedures done

In 2013, some of Marilyn Monroe's medical records went up for auction. The lot consisted of six X-rays as well as her medical history and some notes from her doctors, as reported by Reuters. The X-ray films were dated June 1962, months before she died, and the doctor was a known Hollywood plastic surgeon named Michael Gurdin. In his notes, he mentioned a cartilage implant in the star's chin that was done in 1950 and had started to dissolve at the time of her visit to him in 1962. According to rumors, Monroe once heard a casting director call her a "chinless wonder," which caused her to get a chin augmentation using bovine cartilage, per Yahoo. She was also said to have undergone cosmetic surgery on the tip of her nose.

As a star, it was understandable for Monroe to be conscious about her appearance. In the autobiography that was released more than a decade after her death, she said, "In Hollywood, a girl's virtue is much less important than her hair-do. You're judged by how you look, not by what you are" (via 29 Secrets).