Marilyn Monroe net worth: Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, model, and singer who had a net worth of $800 thousand at the time of her death in 1962. That’s the same as roughly $7 million in today’s dollars after adjusting for inflation. During her career, Marilyn earned a little under $3 million from film salary, the same as around $24 million before taxes after adjusting for inflation. She was not particularly responsible with money, spending lavishly on strangers, relatives and employees while also buying luxurious jewelry, clothes and other items for herself.
Monroe was a blonde bombshell with more than 30 acting credits to her name, including “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953), “There’s No Business Like Show Business” (1954), “The Seven Year Itch” (1955), “Bus Stop” (1956), “The Prince and the Showgirl” (1957), and “Some Like It Hot” (1959).
Marilyn launched her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, with photographer Milton Greene in the mid-1950s, and served as an executive producer on “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Monroe was ranked #6 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 50 greatest female American screen legends, and she was featured on the Smithsonian Institution’s “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” list. Tragically, Marilyn’s life was cut short in August 1962 when she passed away from a barbiturate overdose at just 36 years old. Though her death was ruled a probable suicide, many believe that she was murdered due to suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely passing.
Estate Value and Ownership: After paying down various settlement costs and estate fees, Marilyn’s full net worth was whittled down to around $370,000 according to the will that was filed in Los Angeles County upon her passing. According to the terms of Norma Jeane Mortenson’s will, $10,000 was given to both her half-sister and her longtime personal assistant. The will also set aside $5,000 in an educational trust fund for her assistant’s child. The will established a $100,000 trust fund for her mother.
Monroe’s physical property was bequeathed to her beloved acting coach Lee Strasberg. Lee and his first wife Paula were surrogate parents to Marilyn. They were extremely close throughout her life. More importantly Lee Strasberg ALSO received 75% of her intellectual property rights, also known as “residual estate”.
The remaining 25% went to Monroe’s therapist, Dr. Marianne Kris.
When Dr. Kris died in 1980, her 25% stake in what by then had become a cottage industry, was gifted to the Anna Freud Centre for the Psychoanalytic Study and Treatment of Children in London.
Paula Strasberg died in 1966, four years after Monroe. One year later, Lee married a 28-year-old Venezuelan-born actress named Anna Mizrahi. Anna was just 23 when Monroe died. When Lee died in 1982, Anna became the owner of 75% Marilyn Monroe’s estate.
Anna turned Monroe licensing into a booming empire, signing deals for thousand of products and endorsements with companies like Mercedes-Benz, Revlon, Absolut Vodka and Coca-Cola. Anna Strasberg would turn Marilyn Monroe – a woman she very likely never met – into one of the highest-paid dead celebrities on the planet, earning herself tens of millions of dollars in the process. An animal welfare advocate, Anna Strasberg would not allow photos of Monroe wearing fur to be licensed or marketed widely.
Anna eventually partnered with celebrity management company CMG to market Monroe. CMG reportedly guaranteed Anna a minimum of $1 million in licensing fees per year. Court records as part of a lawsuit would later indicate that Anna earned “more than $7.5 million in licensing revenue” between 1996 and 2000 alone.
In January 2011 Authentic Brands Group eventually bought Anna’s 75% stake for an estimated $20 – $30 million.
Anna eventually bought a home in Marilyn’s Brentwood neighborhood, just seven minutes away, door-to-door. Anna’s home is worth $7-10 million today.
Real Estate: Marilyn’s most valuable asset was arguably the home in L.A.’s Brentwood neighborhood that she bought just eight months before dying. It was the only home Marilyn ever owned. She bought the property in January 1962 for $77,500 and had to borrow the money for the down payment from ex-husband Joe DiMaggio. After her death, the home was valued at $90,000. A half-dozen owners occupied the home over the next few decades. In 1994, it sold for $995,000, and it sold for $7.25 million in 2017.
Early Life: Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. Her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, had two children before leaving her abusive husband (who later kidnapped the children), and Marilyn didn’t know she had a half-sister until she was 12 years old; her half-brother died in 1933. Gladys married Martin Edward Mortensen in 1924, but they separated a few months later; though she put Mortensen’s name on Monroe’s birth certificate, it is believed that he was not her father. Gladys suffered from mental illness and financial problems, and Marilyn became a ward of the state after her mother had a mental breakdown. Monroe spent the following years living in foster homes, where she was sexually abused, and she became withdrawn and developed a stutter.
She later lived at the Los Angeles Orphans Home, then in 1936, her mother’s friend, Grace Goddard, became Monroe’s legal guardian, but after Goddard’s husband, Doc, molested her, Marilyn lived with various relatives (as well as Goddard’s relatives and friends). In 1938, she moved in with Ana Lower, Grace’s aunt, and began attending Emerson Junior High School, where she wrote for the school newspaper. Monroe returned to the Goddard home in 1941 and enrolled at Van Nuys High School, but when Doc’s company relocated him to another state, Marilyn couldn’t go with the family due to California child protection laws. To avoid going back to the orphanage, Monroe married their neighbors’ son and dropped out of school, and the couple moved to Santa Catalina Island in 1943.
Career: After working at the Radioplane Company, where she met photographer David Conover, Marilyn quit her job to focus on modeling. She started modeling for Conover and some of his friends and was signed to the Blue Book Model Agency in 1945. Monroe began appearing in men’s magazines and advertisements, and she dyed her hair blonde; by 1946, she had graced the covers of more than 30 publications. In June 1946, she signed with an acting agency, and 20th Century-Fox head executive Darryl F. Zanuck signed her to a six-month contract that began in August. She began going by the stage name Marilyn Monroe and started taking acting, dance, and singing lessons. After her contract was renewed, Marilyn made her film debut in 1947’s “Dangerous Years,” followed by “Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!” in 1948. Around this time, she took classes at the Actors’ Laboratory Theatre at the studio’s behest, but since her teachers thought she was too shy to make it as an actress, Fox declined to renew her contract in August 1947. Monroe signed with Columbia Pictures in March 1948 and appeared in the film “Ladies of the Chorus” (1948), but her contract wasn’t renewed.
Monroe soon became involved with William Morris Agency vice president Johnny Hyde, who helped her land roles in the 1950 films “All About Eve” and “The Asphalt Jungle” and negotiated a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox. Next, she appeared in the 1951 films “Let’s Make It Legal,” “As Young as You Feel,” “Home Town Story,” and “Love Nest” and 1952’s “Clash by Night,” “We’re Not Married!,” “Don’t Bother to Knock,” and “Monkey Business.” She was named the “best young box office personality” by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1952, and in 1953, the thriller “Niagara” turned her into one of Hollywood’s biggest sex symbols. That year Marilyn also starred in the musical comedy “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (featuring her memorable performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”) and the romantic comedy “How to Marry a Millionaire,” guest-starred on “The Jack Benny Program,” and appeared on the cover and centerfold of “Playboy” magazine’s first issue. Monroe’s “Playboy” appearance happened without her consent; a 1949 nude photograph was used as the centerfold, and a 1952 photo from the Miss America Pageant parade served as the cover image.
In 1954, she starred in the musical “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” then she appeared in 1955’s “The Seven Year Itch,” which contained the famous “subway grate scene” that infuriated her then-husband Joe DiMaggio. Marilyn moved to Manhattan, and in 1955, she began taking private acting lessons with Lee and Paula Strasberg. She then starred in 1956’s “Bus Stop” and 1957’s “The Prince and the Showgirl” and took an 18-month break to focus on her marriage to Arthur Miller. In 1959, Monroe co-starred with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in “Some Like It Hot,” which was preserved in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 1989 for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” She appeared in 1960’s “Let’s Make Love” and 1961’s “The Misfits,” which ended up being her final film, and in 1962, she made a memorable appearance on “President Kennedy’s Birthday Salute,” which aired on CBS. Marilyn began filming “Something’s Got to Give” in 1962, but due to sinusitis, she was very sick for the first six weeks of production, and the studio pressured her to work by claiming that she was faking her illness. The studio later fired Monroe from the film and sued her for $750,000; they later shut down production because star Dean Martin refused to work with anyone other than Marilyn. Fox eventually decided they wanted Monroe back and signed her to a new contract that included “Something’s Got to Give” and “What a Way to Go!” She then posed for “Vogue,” doing a fashion editorial and a series of nude photos, which were titled “The Last Sitting” and published after her death.
Personal Life: On June 19, 1942, 16-year-old Marilyn married 21-year-old James Dougherty, and they divorced in 1946. She went on to wed retired baseball player Joe DiMaggio on January 14, 1954; Joe was jealous, controlling, and abusive, and Monroe filed for divorce just nine months after the wedding. She then married playwright Arthur Miller on June 29, 1956, and they divorced in 1961. Marilyn reportedly also had romantic relationships with Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, President John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy, and it is rumored that she had been planning to remarry DiMaggio on August 8th, 1962, which ended up being the day of her funeral. Monroe struggled with depression and drug addiction, and in the late 1950s, she was hospitalized after overdosing on barbiturates. In 1961, Monroe underwent surgery for endometriosis as well as a cholecystectomy, and she was committed to a mental asylum; DiMaggio came to her rescue and got her released early.
Death and Funeral: In the early morning hours of August 5, 1962, Monroe’s housekeeper, Eunice Murray, awoke and saw light coming from underneath Marilyn’s bedroom door. The door was locked, so she called Ralph Greenson, Monroe’s psychiatrist, who arrived within a half-hour and broke in through a bedroom window to discover Marilyn’s nude body on her bed, with empty pill bottles on her bedside table. Her physician, Hyman Engelberg, pronounced her dead after arriving to the home, and the LAPD was notified around 4:25 a.m. Monroe’s time of death was estimated to be between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. the previous night, and a toxicology report showed that she had 4.5 mg% of pentobarbital and 8 mg% of chloral hydrate in her blood and 13 mg% of pentobarbital in her liver. An accidental overdose was ruled out since those amounts were “several times over the lethal limit.” Marilyn’s funeral was held on August 8th at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, and she was entombed at the Corridor of Memories. DiMaggio helped arranged the funeral service, and for the next 20 years, he had six roses delivered to Monroe’s crypt three times a week.
Though “Coroner to the Stars” Thomas Noguchi ruled Marilyn’s death a probable suicide, decades after her death, many questions remain. Joe DiMaggio Jr. spoke to Monroe around 7:00 p.m. the night of her death and said that she seemed to be in a good state of mind. Greenson and Engelberg claimed that they waited hours to call the police because they had to get permission from 20th Century Fox’s publicity department first, and when the LAPD showed up, they found Murray inexplicably washing bedsheets. Murray, who originally said she awoke around midnight, later changed her story and said it was actually 3:00 a.m. Though it was said that Marilyn swallowed 50+ pills, police found no water glass in her room (and the water in her room had been shut off since she was in the process of remodeling), and no pill residue was found in her stomach. According to author Donald Wolfe, Officer Jack Clemmons told him that he “suspected right away she had been murdered.” Clemmons also thought Monroe’s body looked like it had been posed.
Robert Kennedy was reportedly seen at Marilyn’s home the day she died, and during a 1983 interview with biographer Anthony Summers, Murray stated “Of course Bobby Kennedy was there [on Aug. 4], and of course there was an affair with Bobby Kennedy.” Kennedy was supposed to be in San Francisco that day, but Murray’s son-in-law, Norman Jefferies, confirmed that Bobby had been at Monroe’s house that afternoon and that he and Marilyn argued. Neighbors reported seeing Kennedy arrive again around 10:00 p.m. with two men, and traffic policeman Lynn Franklin claims that the night of Monroe’s death, he pulled over a limousine containing Kennedy, Greenson, and Peter Lawford. A persistent rumor alleges that Marilyn told Bobby that she was tired of being “passed around like a piece of meat” by the Kennedy brothers and that she threatened to go public with the things she had written in her diary, such as her affairs with both brothers as well as their ties to the mob and a plot to kill Fidel Castro. Other theories about Monroe’s death name her killer(s) as the FBI, the CIA, or Jimmy Hoffa and mafia boss Sam Giancana. DiMaggio blamed the Kennedys and once stated “I always knew who killed her, but I didn’t want to start a revolution in this country. She told me someone would do her in, but I kept quiet.'”
Awards and Nominations: Monroe was nominated for four Golden Globes, winning World Film Favorite – Female in 1954 and 1962 and Best Actress – Comedy or Musical for “Some Like It Hot” in 1960. For “The Prince and the Showgirl,” she earned Best Foreign Actress awards from the David di Donatello Awards and Crystal Star Award as well as a BAFTA Award nomination (she was also nominated for “The Seven Year Itch”). Marilyn won a Golden Laurel award for Top Female Comedy Performance for “The Seven Year Itch,” and “Some Like It Hot” earned her an Audience Award and Golden Train Award for Best Actress at the 1959 Faro Island Film Festival. Monroe was posthumously inducted into the Online Film & Television Association Hall of Fame in 2013, and she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.