Marilyn Monroe’s birth name and the meaning behind her Hollywood alias

Marilyn Monroe’s birth name and the meaning behind her Hollywood alias

05/04/2022

Throughout history and as well as in modern day, Marilyn Monroe is recognised as a golden icon of Hollywood and is adored by millions.

Fans of the American actress have created a wave of dedication to the star throughout the decades following her tragic death in August 1962.

More recently – streaming giant Netflix released a shocking documentary in her honour, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes.

So, when the name Norma Jeane Dougherty is mentioned – eyebrows start to raise.

Marilyn was originally born with the surname Jeane Mortenson but was later baptised to the full name "Norma Jeane Baker".

Once her 20th Century Fox contract was signed on August 24, 1946, Norma began the search for her stage name and, little did she know, it would become one of the most iconic names of all time.

It's been more than 70 years since studio executive Ben Lyon suggested that the star's name be changed to Marilyn Monroe.

In fact, there is unique reasoning behind the actress' iconic name, linking to a former musical legend – and it wasn't an easy journey.

How was the name Marilyn Monroe chosen?

According to Monroe's biographer Donald Spoto, choosing Norma's stage name was a joint effort.

The name "Dougherty" – the surname of her soon to be ex-husband – held too many possible pronunciations, as thought by Lyon.

It was suggested that Norma, who was 20 at the time, picked up the name Monroe from a surname on her mother's side of the family.

Whereas Lyon sparked the idea of the name Marilyn, thus reminding him of musical star Marilyn Miller.

It was thought that the two performers sharing the same name would be appropriate due to reasons, including both having blonde appearances and having failed marriages.

Little did they know, but the name would be eerily iconic as Miller died at age 37 and Marilyn died at 36.

Choosing the name wasn't an easy road of discovery – in a letter dated October 1946, she wrote that Clare Norman was also being considered as a screen name, as well as names "Meredith" and 'Carol Lind', according to Lois Banner.

It wasn't until February 23, 1956, that Marilyn legally changed her name to her stage name.

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