Hollywood's Leading Sex Symbol
In December 1950, Marilyn's affair with Hyde abruptly ended when he died of heart disease. Although Marilyn was having other affairs during her relationship with Hyde, she was devastated when she lost him. She treasured his support and respect.
So depressed was she that several days after his funeral, she attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. Her roommate and friend Natasha Lytess, who had once been her drama coach, found her unconscious in her bed. She immediately summoned help and Marilyn's life was saved. It was not her first or last attempt at suicide.
In 1951, Marilyn signed another six-month contract with Fox, which ultimately turned into a seven-year deal. She was also loaned to another studio to make a movie called Clash By Night, which earned her further acclaim from the press. Marilyn was on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a star.
That same year, Marilyn met one of America's most celebrated playwrights, Arthur Miller. Marilyn was attracted to his brilliance and Miller was attracted to her sex appeal, passion and femininity. Despite the fact that he was married with children, the two carried on a sexual relationship for several years.
Between 1951 and 1952, Marilyn starred in nine movies. With each film Marilyn got more publicity and more fans. Weekly she received several thousands of letters from admirers who flocked to see her films.
In March 1952, the saying "bad publicity is good publicity" took on new meaning when Marilyn became the object of attention in the midst of the scandalous "Calendar Caper". The pictures that were taken years earlier by Tom Kelley became a hit during the early 1950s. They adorned men's walls around the United States and Marilyn Monroe became a national sex symbol.
It wasn't long before the identity of the girl posing nude was discovered to be Marilyn. The press seized on the emerging scandal and Marilyn's career was on the verge of disaster. She knew that the uproar could lead to the cancellation of her contract with the studio and she had to figure out a way out of the mess she found herself in.
In a brilliant public relations move, Marilyn decided to come clean about the calendar and her motivation behind doing it by arranging an interview with a popular news reporter named Aline Mosby. She confided to Mosby that she posed in the nude only because she was broke and needed the money to survive. Marilyn's well-rehearsed sad story doused the scandalous flames that almost consumed her and instead lead to public sympathy nationwide. After all, who could stay angry with such a beautiful girl who was forced to exploit her body in order to survive?
Marilyn's career was taking off. The publicity won Marilyn even more fame. One month following the "Calendar Caper," Marilyn graced the cover of Life Magazine.
In June 1952, she began working on the movie Niagara. She also won a starring role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. That same year, she was offered the role of grand marshal at the Miss America pageant. It seemed as if everything was finally going the way Marilyn had hoped.