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Quotes by Marilyn Monroe

Khushnuma Irani
Considered one of the finest actresses of all time, Marilyn Monroe was always been vocal about topics of general nature as well as controversial ones. Quotes listed in this story showcase the verbal brilliance and confidence of the star.
A Russian magazine Nedvela once said, "When you speak of the American way of life, everybody thinks of chewing gum, coca-cola, and Marilyn Monroe". Such was the charisma of the legendary actress, that she became synonymous with everything 'glamor'.
She single-handedly changed the way people think about women and sexuality. Some people thought she was too brazen, while others felt that she was the epitome of strength, charisma and charm. Not many know that her real name was Norma Jeane Mortenson, and that she was a brunette by birth.
Everyone is, nonetheless, fascinated by her persona and her blonde makeover which have served as an inspiration for girls around the world.
Monroe was known to voice her opinions on everything that really mattered to her, and her quotes and autobiography (even though it is controversial) reflect her trauma during childhood, her struggles and her rise to stardom.

Marilyn Monroe Quotes

Famous Quotes

  • It's not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on. (about her calendar shoot)
  • Diamonds are a girl's best friend.
  • We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.
  • If you're gonna be two-faced at least make one of them pretty.
  • Can you imagine me as first lady?
  • There's only one sort of natural blonde on earth -- albinos.
  • You would think all other women kept their bodies in vaults.
  • Why haven't I the right to grow and expand like everybody else?
  • Dogs have never hurt me. Only men have./Dogs never bite me. Just humans.
  • I've been on a calendar, but never on time.
  • What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.
  • Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
  • Who said nights were for sleep?
  • Sure I posed. I needed the money. (On posing for nude pictures)
  • People ask me if I am going on making cheesecake pictures now that I'm a star. My answer is that as long as there is a boy in Korea who wants a pinup of me, I'll go on posing for them.
  • Some of those bastards in Hollywood wanted me to drop Arthur. Said it would ruin my career. They're born cowards and want you to be like them. One reason I want to see Kennedy win is that Nixon's associated with that whole scene.
  • A dollar for your thoughts...
  • Say good-bye to Pat say good-bye to Jack (the president) and say good-bye to yourself because you're a nice guy. (On phone, a few hours before her death)
  • I watched the faces of the listeners when the minister would cry out how much God loved them and how much they needed to set themselves right with God. They were faces without any argument in them, just tired faces that were glad to hear Somebody loved them.

On Emotions

  • The embarrassment after the anger is biggest humiliation a person can experience.
  • For those who are poor in happiness, each time is a first time; happiness never becomes a habit.
  • I have feelings too. I am still human. All I want is to be loved, for myself and for my talent.
  • What am I afraid of? Do I think I can't act? I know I can act, but I am afraid. I am afraid and I should not be and I must not be.
  • Ever notice how 'What the hell' is always the right answer?
  • It's like salt on a steak. All you need is a little bit of it. (On jealousy)
  • Everybody is always tugging at you. They'd all like a sort of chunk out of you. I don' think they realize it, but it's like 'grrr do this, grr do that...' But you do want to stay intact--intact and on two feet.
  • That's the way you feel when you're beaten inside. You don't feel angry at those who've beaten you. You just feel ashamed.
  • She was a girl who knew how to be happy even when she was sad. And that's important-you know.

On Loneliness/Solitude

  • I restore myself when I'm alone.
  • It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone - so far.
  • It's often just enough to be with someone. I don't need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You're not alone.
  • I have never been very good at being a member of any group - more than a group of two, that is.
  • Sometimes I've been to a party where no one spoke to me for a whole evening. The men, frightened by their wives or sweeties, would give me a wide berth. And the ladies would gang up in a corner to discuss my dangerous character.

On Her Struggles

  • My first contract with 20th Century-Fox was like my first vaccination. It didn't take.
  • When you're young and healthy you can plan on Monday to commit suicide, and by Wednesday you're laughing again.
  • Trying to build myself up with the fact that I have done things right that were even good and have had moments that were excellent but the bad is heavier to carry around and feel have no confidence.
  • I think cheesecake helps call attention to you. Then you can follow through and prove yourself.
  • I think if other girls know how bad I was when I started, they'll be encouraged. I finally made up my mind I wanted to be an actress and I was not going to let my lack of confidence ruin my chances.
  • You sit alone. It's night outside. Automobiles roll down Sunset Boulevard like an endless string of beetles. Their rubber tires make a purring high-class noise. You're hungry, and you say, 'It's not good for my waistline to eat.' There's nothing finer than a washboard belly.
  • There were dozens of us on the set, bit players, with a gesture to make and a line or two to recite. A few were young and had nice bosoms; but I knew they were different from me. They didn't have my illusions. My illusions didn't have anything to do with being a fine actress. I knew how third-rate I was...
..I could actually feel my lack of talent, as if it were cheap clothes I was wearing inside. But, my God, how I wanted to learn, to change, to improve! I didn't want anything else. Not men, not money, not love, but the ability to act.
I'm trying to find myself as a person, sometimes that's not easy to do. Millions of people live their entire lives without finding themselves. But it is something I must do. The best way for me to find myself as a person is to prove to myself that I'm an actress.
  • People respect you because they feel you've survived hard times and endured, and although you've become famous, you haven't become phony.

On Fame/Stardom

  • It scares me. All those people I don't know, sometimes they're so emotional. I mean, if they love you that much without knowing you, they can also hate you the same way.
  • Fame is fickle and I know it. It has its compensations, but it also has its drawbacks and I've experienced them both.
  • Fame will go by and, so long, I've had you, fame. If it goes by, I've always known it was fickle. So at least it's something I experience, but that's not where I live.
  • Gee, I never thought I had an effect on people until I was in Korea.
  • With fame, you know, you can read about yourself, somebody else's ideas about you, but what's important is how you feel about yourself - for survival and living day to day with what comes up.
  • I don't know if high society is different in other cities, but in Hollywood important people can't stand to be invited someplace that isn't full of other important people. They don't mind a few unfamous people being present because they make good listeners...
..But if a star or studio chief or any other great movie personages find themselves sitting among a lot of nobodies, they get frightened--as if somebody was trying to demote them.
  • I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.
  • There was my name up in lights. I said, 'God, somebody's made a mistake.' But there it was, in lights. And I sat there and said, 'Remember, you're not a star.' Yet there it was up in lights.
  • When you're famous, you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way. It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who is she-who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe?..
..They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, you know, of any kind of nature-and it won't hurt your feelings-like it's happening to your clothing... I don't understand why people aren't a little more generous with each other. I don't like to say this, but I'm afraid there is a lot of envy in this business.
  • My travels have always been of the same kind. No matter where I've gone or why I've gone there it ends up that I never see anything. Becoming a movie star is living on a merry-go-round. When you travel you take the merry-go-round with you...
..You don't see natives or new scenery. You see chiefly the same press agents, the same sort of interviewers, and the same picture layouts of yourself.

On Success and Failure

  • Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn't that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you.
  • If I'd observed all the rules, I'd never have got anywhere.
  • When you're a failure in Hollywood that's like starving to death outside a banquet hall with smells of filet mignon driving you crazy.
  • You can't sleep your way into being a star. It takes much, much more. But it helps a lot of actresses get their first chance that way.

On Acting/Career

  • A career is born in public, talent in privacy.
  • Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.
  • A career is born in public, talent in privacy.
  • Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.
  • This industry should behave like a mother whose child has just run out in front of a car. But instead of clasping the child to them, they start punishing the child. Like you don't dare get a cold. How dare you get a cold!..
..I mean, the executives can get colds and stay home forever and phone it in, but how dare you, the actor, get a cold or a virus. You know, no one feels worse than the one who's sick. I sometimes wish, gee, I wish they had to act a comedy with a temperature and a virus infection.
  • In Hollywood a girl's virtue is much less important than her hairdo. You're judged by how you look not by what you are.
  • Talent is developed in privacy... but everybody is always tugging at you. They'd all like sort of a chunk at you. They'd kind of like to take pieces out of you.
  • I never intentionally mean to hurt anyone, but you can't be too nice to people you work with, else they will trample you to death.
  • Goethe said, 'Talent is developed in privacy, 'you know? And it's really true. There is a need for aloneness which I don't think most people realize for an actor. It's almost having certain kinds of secrets for yourself that you'll let the whole world in on only for a moment, when you're acting.
  • As Michael (Chekhov) 's pupil, I learned more about acting. I learned psychology, history, and the good manners of art - taste.
  • An actress is not a machine, but they treat you like a machine. A money machine.
  • A career is wonderful thing, but you can't snuggle up to it on a cold night.
  • An actor is supposed to be a sensitive instrument. Isaac Stern takes good care of his violin. What if everybody jumped on his violin? It seems to me it's time they stopped knocking their assets around.
  • Acting isn't something you do. Instead of doing it, it occurs. If you're going to start with logic, you might as well give up. You can have conscious preparation, but you have unconscious results.
  • My work is the only ground I've ever had to stand on. I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation -- but I'm working on the foundation.
  • Acting became important. It became an art that belonged to the actor, not to the director, or producer or the man whose money had bought the studio. It was an art that transformed you into somebody else, that increased your life and mind...
..I had always loved acting and tried hard to learn it. But with Michael Chekhov, acting became more than a profession to me. It became a sort of religion.
  • I've often stood silent at a party for hours listening to my movie idols turn into dull and little people.
  • Speaking of Oscars, I would win overwhelmingly if the Academy gave an Oscar for faking orgasms. I have done some of my best acting convincing my partners I was in the throes of ecstasy.

On People/Fans

  • People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person. They didn't see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts, then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one.
  • I've always felt toward the slightest scene, even if all I had to do in a scene was just to come in and say, Hi, that the people ought to get their money's worth and that this is an obligation of mine, to give them the best you can get from me.
  • The truth is I've never fooled anyone. I've let people fool themselves. They didn't bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn't argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn't. When they found this out, they would blame me for disillusioning them---and fooling them.
  • Only the public can make a star. It's the studios who try to make a system out of it.
  • When it comes down to it, I let them think what they want. If they care enough to bother with what I do, then I'm already better than them.
  • Please don't make me a joke. (To a reporter)
  • And I want to say to the people, if I am a star, the people made me a star. No studio, no person, but the people did.

On Life

  • You never know what life is like, until you have lived it.
  • We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.
  • When you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex. When you have both, it's health. If everything is simply jake, then you're frightened of death.
  • Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you'd never complete your life, would you? You'd never wholly know yourself...
  • It's all make believe, isn't it?

On Love

  • I always felt insecure and in the way, but most of all I felt scared. I guess I wanted love more than anything else in the world.
  • I am just a small girl in a big world, trying to find someone to love.
  • You might as well make yourself fly as to make yourself love.
  • I could never pretend something I didn't feel. I could never make love if I didn't love, and if I loved I could no more hide the fact than change the color of my eyes.
  • What the conscious mind can't recognize, the heart might know.

On Intelligence

  • I don't consider myself an intellectual. And this is not one of my aims. But I admire intellectual people.
  • If I play a stupid girl and ask a stupid question, I've got to follow it through, what am I supposed to do, look intelligent?
  • How can I learn something about the most famous philosophers in a few hours? I'm going to a party tonight and I want to be able to hold my own.
  • It takes a smart brunette to play a dumb blonde.

On Her Movies

  • The trouble with censors is that they worry if a girl has cleavage. They ought to worry if she hasn't any.
  • They've said I want to direct pictures I couldn't direct traffic.
  • Some people have been unkind. If I say I want to grow as an actress, they look at my figure. If I say I want to develop, to learn my craft, they laugh. Somehow they don't expect me to be serious about my work.
  • Someone said to me, 'If fifty percent of the experts in Hollywood said you had no talent and should give up, what would you do?' My answer was then and still is, 'If a hundred percent told me that, all one hundred percent would be wrong.'
  • I love to do the things the censors won't pass.

On Her Childhood

  • With success all around me, I can still feel her frightened eyes looking out of mine. She keeps saying, I never lived, I was never loved, and often I get confused and think it's I who am saying it.
  • I was never used to being happy, so that wasn't something I ever took for granted. You see, I was brought up differently from the average American child because the average child is brought up expecting to be happy.
  • You know, when you grow up you can get kind of sour, I mean, that's the way it can go.
  • At twelve I looked like a girl of seventeen. My body was developed and shapely. But no one knew this but me. I still wore the blue dress and the blouse the orphanage provided. They made me look like an overgrown lummox.
  • Even though I was born there, I still can't think of one good thing to say about it. If I close my eyes, and picture LA, all I see is one big varicose vein.
  • To me, she was just that red-haired woman. (On her mother)
  • I kept driving past the theater with my name on the marquee. Was I excited. I wished they were using 'Norma Jeane' so that all the kids at the home and schools who never noticed me could see it.
  • I didn't pay much attention to the whistles and whoops, in fact, I didn't quite hear them. I was full of a strange feeling, as if I were two people. One of them was Norma Jeane from the orphanage who belonged to nobody; the other was someone whose name I didn't know. But I knew where she belonged; she belonged to the ocean and the sky and the whole world.
  • My arrival in school, with painted lips and darkened brows, started everybody buzzing. Why I was a siren, I hadn't the faintest idea. I didn't want to be kissed, and I didn't dream of being seduced by a duke or a movie star.
  • The truth was that with all my lipstick and mascara and precocious curves, I was as unresponsive as a fossil. But I seemed to affect people quite otherwise.
  • My admirers all said the same thing in different ways. It was my fault, their wanting to kiss and hug me. (On her teenage).
  • Looking back, I guess I used to play-act all the time. For one thing, it meant I could live in a more interesting world than the one around me.

On Sexuality

  • A sex symbol becomes a thing. I hate being a thing.
  • The most unsatisfactory men are those who pride themselves on their virility and regard sex as if it were some form of athletics at which you win cups. It is a woman's spirit and mood a man has to stimulate in order to make sex interesting...
..The real lover is the man who can thrill you just by touching your head or smiling into your eyes or by just staring into space.
  • I don't mind being burdened with being glamorous and sexual. Beauty and femininity are ageless and can't be contrived, and glamor, although the manufacturers won't like this, cannot be manufactured. Not real glamor; it's based on femininity...
..We are all born sexual creatures, thank God, but it's a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift. Art, real art, comes from it, everything.
  • That's the trouble; a sex symbol becomes a thing. But if I'm going to be a symbol of something, I'd rather have it sex than some other things we've got symbols of.
  • I won't be satisfied until people want to hear me sing without looking at me.
  • I'm a failure as a woman. My men expect so much of me, because of the image they've made of me and that I've made of myself, as a sex symbol. Men expect so much, and I can't live up to it.
  • It isn't necessary to use your voice in any special way (to sound sexy). If you think something sexy the voice just naturally goes along.

On Marriage in General

  • I have noticed.. that men usually leave married women alone, and are inclined to treat all wives with respect. This is no great credit to married women. Men are always ready to respect anything that bores them.
  • I like actors very much, but to marry one would be like marrying your brother. You look too much alike in the mirror.
  • The public doesn't mind people living together without being married, providing they don't overdo it.
  • Before marriage, a girl has to make love to a man to hold him. After marriage, she has to hold him to make love to him.
  • I wanna guy I can look up to. I just gotta feel that whoever I marry has some real regard for me, aside from all that loving stuff.
  • I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone's wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really.

On Her own Marriages/Husbands

  • Jim's such a wonderful person. I want to marry him, but I don't know anything about sex. Can we get married without having sex?
  • My marriage brought me neither happiness nor pain. My husband and I hardly spoke to each other. This wasn't because we were angry. We had nothing to say.
  • Johnny Hyde was wonderful, but he was not my Svengali. Milton Greene was not my Svengali, I'm nobody's slave and never have been... Now they write that Lee Strasberg is my Svengali.. and Arthur Miller isn't my Svengali.
  • The thing I want more than anything else? I want to have children. I used to feel for every child I had, I would adopt another.
  • The first effect marriage had on me was to increase my lack of interest in sex.... Actually our marriage was a sort of friendship with sexual privileges.

On Feminism

  • I don't mind living in a man's world, as long as I can be a woman in it.
  • I'm very definitely a woman and I enjoy it.
  • A woman can't be alone. She needs a man. A man and a woman support and strengthen each other. She just can't do it by herself.
  • The woman who is known only through a man is known wrong.
  • Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.
  • What good is it being Marilyn Monroe? Why can't I just be an ordinary woman? A woman who can have a family... I'd settle for just one baby. My own baby.

On Glamor, Beauty, Money, Herself and Her Lifestyle

  • I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.
  • No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they're pretty, even if they aren't.
  • I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.
  • I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I'm out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.
  • I love a natural look in pictures. I like people with a feeling one way or another - it shows an inner life. I like to see that there's something going on inside them.
  • A photographer once told me that my two best points are between my waist and my neck.
  • As of today, I have absolutely no regrets. I think I am a mature person who can take things in stride. I'm grateful for people in my past. They helped me get to where I am, wherever that is. But now, I am thinking for myself and sitting in on all the business transactions.
  • Everybody says I can't act. They said the same thing about Elizabeth Taylor. And they were wrong. She was great in A Place in the Sun. I'll never get the right part, anything I really want. My looks are against me. They're too specific.
  • I never wear stockings or underclothes because I think it is important to breathe freely.
  • I always sleep with my mouth open. I know because it's open when I wake up.
  • I am good but I'm not an angel, I do sin but I'm not the devil, I have friends but I'm not a peacemaker, I am pretty but I'm not beautiful, For I am only a little girl in a big world looking for someone to love.
  • I am invariably late for appointments - sometimes as much as two hours. I've tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.
  • I am trying to prove to myself that I am a person. Then may be I'll convince myself that I'm an actress.
  • I want to grow old without facelifts. I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I have made.
  • I don't mind making jokes, but I don't want to look like one.
  • I did what they said and all it got me was a lot of abuse. Everyone's just laughing at me. I hate it. Big breasts, big ass, big deal.
  • I feel as though it's all happening to someone right next to me. I'm close, I can feel it, I can hear it, but it isn't really me.
  • I learned to walk as a baby and I haven't had a lesson since.
  • It's nice to be included in people's fantasies, but you also like to be accepted for your own sake.
  • I'm looking forward to eventually becoming a marvelous - excuse the word marvelous - character actress. Like Marie Dressler, like Will Rogers.
  • I've fallen in love with Brooklyn. I'm going to buy a little house in Brooklyn and live there. I'll go to the coast only when I have to make a picture.
  • I've never been in a Hollywood fight or feud. I have the most wonderful memory for forgetting things.

On Creativity

Creativity has got to start with humanity and when you're a human being, you feel, you suffer. You're gay, you're sick, you're nervous or whatever...
..Like any creative human being, I would like a bit more control so that it would be a little easier for me when the director says, One tear, right now, that one tear would pop out. But once there came two tears because I thought, 'How dare he?'

On Positivity

  • I used to say to myself, 'What the devil have you got to be proud about, Marilyn Monroe?' And I'd answer, 'Everything, Everything' and I'd walk slowly and turn my head slowly as if I were a queen.
  • I feel wonderful. I'm incorporated.
  • Within crisis, are the seeds of opportunity.
  • I've never dropped anyone I believed in.
  • Remember now, cheers, no tears.

On Relationships/Infidelity/Experiences

  • A wise girl kisses but doesn't love, listens but doesn't believe, and leaves before she is left.
  • Husbands are chiefly good lovers when they are betraying their wives.
  • If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.
  • Men who think that a woman's past love affairs lessen her love for them are usually stupid and weak. A woman can bring a new love to each man she loves, providing there are not too many.
  • Wouldn't it be nice to be like men and get notches in your belt and sleep with most attractive men and not get emotionally involved?
  • I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

On Social Issues

  • What I really want to say: That what the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers. Please don't make me a joke. End the interview with what I believe.
  • Unfortunately, I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demanded was our right to twinkle.

On Her Dreams/Ambitions

  • I remember in mathematics I used to write down figures, just any figures, instead of trying to do the questions. I used to think it was a waste of my brain, using it up with mathematics, when I could be imagining all sorts of wonderful things...
..I used to dream I was a princess, that I could select any husband I wanted. Instead, I chose to travel around the country, disguised as a poor girl, leaving the king and queen at home, to find the man I really loved. He always turned out to be a poor man.
  • I strove to look like Betty Grable, but I thought Alice Faye had more class to her looks.
  • Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.
  • The nicest thing for me is sleep, then at least I can dream.
  • Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting then being one.
  • A girl knows her limits, but a wise girl knows she has none.
  • I'm going to be a great movie star some day.
  • Beneath the makeup and behind the smile I am just a girl who wishes for the world.
Every time Marilyn spoke, she expressed thoughts in her mind openly, and revealed many secrets of her heart. This remains one of the many reasons why she is seen as an idol worldwide even today.