Marilyn Monroe, 1956

Black and white photo of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe © Cecil Beaton Archive, Sothebys London / Collection National Portrait Gallery, London

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Monroe first came to prominence as a model in the 1940s before forging a successful career as an actress. During the 1950s, she starred in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' (1953), 'The Seven Year Itch' (1955) and 'Some Like It Hot' (1959).

This portrait was taken during a photographic session at the Ambassador Hotel in New York. Beaton recalled;

'She romps, she squeals with delight, she leaps onto the sofa. She puts a flower stem in her mouth, puffing on a daisy as though it were a cigarette. It is an artless, impromptu, high spirited, infectiously gay performance.'