Marilyn Monroe (American, 1926-1962)

Perhaps the best-known sex symbol in American history, Monroe first caught the eye of the public for a pair of uncredited film roles in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve. These proved effective as an entry point to film for Monroe, who starred in a number of films that made deliberate use of her allure to bring in audiences and often typecast her as a “dumb blonde.” Her role as a sex symbol was solidified by her appearance as the centerfold of the first edition of Playboy, which made use of nude photos taken in 1949 and was published without her consent. Monroe was often unhappy with the roles she was assigned and tried to make roles for herself in the late 50s that emphasized her comedic talent, resulting in her most critically successful roles. However, Monroe remained deeply unhappy throughout her career, and her life ended in tragedy as she died from an overdose at the age of 36.