26 Surprising Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Marilyn Monroe

    I can't believe I didn't know some of this!

    Marilyn Monroe is a Hollywood icon who has become larger than life.

    However, so much of her is shrouded in myth. In honor of her birthday, June 1, I've compiled a list of interesting facts you may not know about Marilyn.

    1. Marilyn was born in 1926, and spent much of her childhood in foster homes.

    2. Marilyn Monroe was named Castroville's first Artichoke Queen in 1948.

    3. Born Norma Jeane Mortenson (she also went by the surname Baker), she changed her name to Marilyn Monroe at the urging of studio execs when she was 20. After the change, she often referred to herself in the third person, suggesting "Marilyn" was almost a character to play.

    4. She had a stutter as a child and again in high school. A speech therapist advised her to speak in a breathy tone.

    5. She also dealt with serious nerves, even after she'd done many films. According to Bus Stop costar Don Murray, she'd break out into rashes every time they shot a scene.

    6. Marilyn was a huge fan of Ella Fitzgerald. She convinced the Mocambo nightclub to let Fitzgerald play, bringing her jazz to a wider audience.

    7. According to her roommate Shelly Winters, Albert Einstein was on Monroe's list of men she'd want to sleep with "just for fun."

    8. Marilyn struggled with people not seeing her as a serious actor. She took a year to study with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York at lover Elia Kazan's suggestion, before returning to star in the critically acclaimed Bus Stop.

    9. Who did she sit next to in this class? Jane Fonda.

    10. Monroe started her own production company called Marilyn Monroe Productions in 1955, so that she could do more dramatic parts.

    11. In 1956, her soon-to-be husband, playwright Arthur Miller, was investigated for communist activity by the HUAC. Marilyn risked her career by speaking in his favor in the hearings, which helped keep him out of prison.

    12. Due to this, Monroe was actually a suspected communist herself.

    13. Monroe was much more political than people remember — she was actually a founding member of the Hollywood branch of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. When asked about her nightmare in an interview, she replied, "The H-bomb, what's yours?"

    14. In order to marry Arthur Miller, Marilyn converted to Judaism.

    15. Frank Sinatra gifted Marilyn a Maltese terrier she named Mafia (nicknamed Maf).

    16. Monroe was committed to a psychiatric ward shortly after separating from her third husband Arthur Miller due to her insomnia and unrest.

    17. At the time of her death, Monroe reportedly had a library of 400 books.

    18. There were a number of suspicious circumstances surrounding her death by barbiturate overdose. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the first police officer to arrive on the scene believed it was murder, and the coroner who signed the death certificate did so under duress.

    19. In her will, Marilyn left 25% of her assets to her psychiatrist, Dr. Marilyn Kris. She said the money should be used "for the furtherance of the work of such psychiatric institution or group as she shall elect."

    20. But she left most of her estate to her acting coach Lee Strasberg and his wife Paula, who had been like parents to her.

    21. She specified in her will that she wanted her possessions to go to loved ones. However, the items ended up in storage. And after Strasberg's death, his second wife Anna had the items auctioned off.

    22. At the auction, Mariah Carey actually bought a piano Marilyn owned and cherished because it had belonged to her mother.

    23. Marilyn's second husband, Joe DiMaggio, had roses left on her grave twice a week for 20 years.

    24. When married actors Michael Irving and Veronica Hamel bought Monroe's home in the 1970s, they discovered "a sophisticated, government grade eavesdropping and telephone tapping system that extended into every room of the house."

    25. In 1992, Hugh Hefner paid $75,000 to buy the crypt next to Marilyn's.

    26. And finally, though many think of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" as a memorial to Princess Diana, it was originally written about Marilyn.

    Happy birthday Marilyn — may your memory never be forgotten!