Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, model and singer. Famous for playing comedic "blonde bombshell" characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s and was emblematic of the era's sexual revolution. She was a top-billed actress for only a decade, but her films grossed $200 million by the time of her death in 1962. Long after her death, she continues to be a major icon of pop culture. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Monroe sixth on its list of the greatest female screen legends from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage; she married at age 16. She was working in a factory during World War II when she met a photographer from the First Motion Picture Unit and began a successful pin-up modeling career, which led to short-lived film contracts with 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures. After a series of minor film roles, she signed a new contract with Fox in late 1950.