Marilyn Monroe's Birthday: Her Best 10 Movies Ranked

Marilyn Monroe Birthday
1948: American film star Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) curls herself into a bow shape and assumes a yogic exercise position. John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

Happy birthday, Mrs. Monroe. Born on June 1, 1926 as Norma Jeane Mortenson, later Baker, Marilyn Monroe became an American cultural icon, starring in films such as Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Seven Year Itch. She would have been 93 years old today.

Growing up was not always a happy time for Monroe. According to Britannica Encyclopedia, her mother was in and out of an asylum, resulting in Monroe living with 12 sets of foster parents, as well as in an orphanage. But in 1946, after marrying a fellow aircraft worker, she became a photographer's model and signed a contract with Twentieth Century Fox.

Marilyn Monroe Birthday
circa 1927: Studio portrait of American actor Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jean Mortenson, 1926 - 1962) at the age of six months, sitting on a woolly rug in a white smock. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

However, her career didn't take off until 1950, when she appeared in The Asphalt Jungle. While it was an uncredited role, she received a lot of fan mail, and followed by her role in All About Eve (1950), she won another contract from Fox.

She then went onto make Let's Make It Legal (1951), Love Nest (1951), and Niagara (1953), followed by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and There's No Business Like Show Business (1954).

How to Marry A Millionaire Marilyn Monroe Birthday
Actress Marilyn Monroe leans on a Singer Automobile as she poses for a portrait on the set of the movie "How To Marry A Millionaire" which was released in 1953. Frank Worth, Courtesy of Capital Art/Getty Images

As she had divorced her aircraft worker sweetheart soon after WWII, Monroe married baseball star Joe DiMaggio in 1954. However, their marriage ended less than a year later.

In 1955 and 1956, Monroe established herself as a talented comedian in The Seven Year Itch and Bus Stop respectively. She then married playwright Arthur Miller and co-starred with Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). She then starred in comedy Some Like It Hot (1959), and her last role The Misfits (1961). The latter was written by Miller, who she had divorced the year before.

Marilyn Monroe Korea Birthday
The power of a woman. Over 10,000 GI's turn out to hear and see Marilyn Monroe as the bosomy blonde makes an appearance in Korea, February 16th. Not since President Eisenhower made his pre-inaugural visit has there been such a turnout for a celebrity. The serviceman traveled from all points of the Korea peninsula to get a look at the movie queen. Getty Images

Sadly, Monroe died by suicide in 1962 in her Los Angeles home.

To honor the blonde bombshell's birthday, Newsweek has analyzed data from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to find the best 10 films she starred in.

10. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

Score: 83 / 100

Also starred: Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Cameron Mitchell.

Plot: Three New York models set-up a plan to bag themselves a millionnaire husband.

What critics said: "Fabulously cast and wickedly witty." Radio Times

9. Niagara (1953)

Score: 86 / 100

Also starred: Jean Peters, Casey Adams and Joseph Cotten.

Plot: Two couples are bound together by betrayal, jealousy and madness.

What critics said: "Around the scenic splendor of Niagara Falls, Charles Brackett has produced and co-scripted a gripping murder melodrama that is loaded with sex and suspense." Hollywood Reporter

8. The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Score: 87 / 100

Also starred: Tom Ewell, Evelyn Keyes and Sonny Tufts.

Plot: Feeling lonely and worn down by marriage, a husband is drawn towards his new neighbor.

What critics said: "What counts is that laughs come thick and fast, that the general entertainment is light and gay." Variety.

7. Monkey Business (1952)

Score: 88 / 100

Also starred: Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers and Charles Coburn.

Plot: An absent-minded professor is seeking a "fountain of youth" formula that will revitalize middle-agers both mentally and physically.

What critics said: "A summit of comic invention." New Yorker.

6. All About Eve (1950)

Score: 94 / 100

Also starred: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and Gary Merrill.

Plot: The story of an aspiring actress who uses everyone around her to get to the top.

What critics said: "All About Eve ranks among the smartest comedy-dramas in many, many years." Associated Press

5. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Score: 97 / 100

Also starred: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and George Raft.

Plot: Two musicians end up cross-dressing to avoid the Mob and join an all female band.

What critics said: "The pace is fast and the humour—especially Mr Lemmon's—is often hilarious. It is pleasant to meet again such old familiars as Mr Raft and Mr Brown; and Miss Monroe, as always, is irresistible." The Guardian

4. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Score: 97 / 100

Also starred: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern and Jean Hagen.

Plot: While successful, a bank robbery ends up getting a lot of crooks into trouble.

What critics said: "This tale of a jewel theft gone wrong is notable for its gritty procedural detail and an emphasis on the inner lives of the small time crooks, expertly played by Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe." Associated Press

3. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Marilyn Monroe Birthday
American actresses Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, directed by Howard Hawks. Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Score: 98 / 100

Also starred: Jane Russell, Charles Coburn and Elliott Reid.

Plot: Obsessed with money and finding a wealthy husband for herself and her friend, Monroe ends up tangled up with a diamond merchant and his sidekick.

What critics said: "Howard Hawks adds sly sexual insinuation to the blatantly sexual antics of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in this scintillating 1953 adaptation of the stage musical based on Anita Loos's novel." New Yorker

1 = Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

Score: 100 / 100

Also starred: Richard Widmark, Anne Bancroft and Donna Corcoran.

Plot: An advert for not bringing a girl home on a first date, especially when your child is there.

What critics said: "Fairly satisfying."

1 = The Misfits (1961)

Misfits Marilyn Monroe Arthur Miller Birthday
American actress Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) with her husband, playwright Arthur Miller (1915 - 2005), during the location shoot of 'The Misfits' in the Nevada Desert, 1960. Ernst Haas/Getty Images

Score: 100 / 100

Also starred: Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach.

Plot: A divorced, one-time stripper demands that her new beau stop killing "misfit" horses for ground meat. Yes, really.

What critics said: "Talent, controversy and accident have combined to make The Misfits an unusually interesting film if not an outstandingly good one." The Guardian

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours every day.​

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts