But it wasn’t a magic wish that granted her the fame and glorious title as we know for today. It all started with one film, All About Eve, where Monroe had only two minutes total of screen time. A “starving actress”, such as Monroe, needed to act her lines carefully if she was going to gain anything from this – and act she did – the movie was a success. She only had a few lines, but learning from great actresses before her, she noticed they all had one thing in common: confidence in their sexuality. For instance, Mae West, who prided herself in her sexuality, or Barbara Stanwyck, who played Lily Powers, a woman who literally “slept her way to the top”, in the 1933 promiscuous film, Baby Face. In the film, Lily’s German neighbor lectured her for not using, “her will power” correctly and told her, “You have power over men. . . . Use men to get the things you want”. It was because of this film a new set of rules were sent to Hollywood – the Hays Code 7 – where women weren’t allowed to be too revealing in a film but not too smart either.
Monroe knew exactly how to handle this. During her screen time in All About Eve, her body language is flirtatious but not so over the edge, and she delivers her lines with a sense of wit so her character doesn’t seem one dimensional. However, Monroe had to approach this role in a different way than the rest of the actresses. Monroe already fell into the typecast of a dumb blonde in the eyes of the men leading the productions, and she knew the only way for her to rise up to the top was to use her sexuality. Luckily for Monroe, it was already built in the script for her to do so. In the film, when Addison Dewitt brings Miss Casswell (Marilyn Monroe) to the house party, he tells her, “You see that man? That’s Max Fabian, the producer. Now go and do yourself some good,” in which Miss Casswell responds, “Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits..”, then Dewitt replies, “Because that’s what they are. Now go and make him happy.” He then proceeds to take off her coat while Miss Casswell walks with a smile towards the man in a revealing off – the – shoulder sweetheart dress. The audience fell in love with Marilyn Monroe from here on out.
The movie was such a success that Monroe received offers left and right from producers to play in their movies. The only problem was that they all wanted to cast her as the stereotypical, “dumb blonde”, when in actuality she was a very smart lady. Nonetheless she rose to stardom, using the dimwitted roles they gave her and turing each character into her own. For example, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes she made her character’s interest to be about money more than being dumb, but still cleverly gave the industry what it wanted by making the character a bombshell beauty.
Acting in these iconic films produced Monroe’s signature makeup look, which would, without a doubt, have an influence on women’s beauty standards. She had long eyelashes, a long eyeliner-winged-look, volumsciuos red lips, and glowing skin. It is rumored that Monroe’s beauty routine took a great deal of time to complete, including several detailed steps to achieve her overall, drop-dead-gorgeous, look. As an example, to achieve the specific red for the cameras to transpose, her makeup artist used five different shades of red lipstick to contour her lips. Just from the layering of product alone made her lips look bigger and desirable. One beauty trick that she frequently used was to put vaseline on her face before foundation or powder, to achieve that naturally glowing look and moisturize her skin simultaneously.