Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.

Saved! Access Favorites in your account profile. Removed from my favorites

12 Stars Who've Dared To Play Marilyn Monroe

  1. Begin
    rexusa_908749a
    Photo: Moviestore/REX USA.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    We may think we know a lot about Marilyn Monroe. But more often than not, we're thinking of the persona invented by an ambitious young Norma Jean Mortenson and the Hollywood execs who helped propel her into stardom. She is the pop culture symbol screen-printed ad infinitum by Andy Warhol. She's the tragic subject of countless biographies, biopics, documentaries, and even that musical they were making in Smash 

    According to IMDb, there are 185 shows and movies in which "Marilyn Monroe" appears as a character in one way or another. Her humble beginnings, her utterly iconic look, her tabloid-fodder relationships, and her tragic end make her an irresistible subject, whether in a cameo appearance or as the star of her own life story. This month, Lifetime premieres The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, starring Kelli Garner as Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe and Susan Sarandon as the mentally ill mother who allegedly tormented the star all her life. Next year, we'll see Jessica Chastain in the second adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' fictionalized biography, Blonde.
     

    Of all the women who've dared to don the platinum 'do, the sequined dresses, and conjure that coy, breathy voice, who comes closest to truly capturing Marilyn? Here are the 12 we think have done it best.
       

    Begin Slideshow
  2. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VoZ__B34SZQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    Video: Courtesy of YouTube.

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    0 of 10

    Misty Rowe, Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976)

    The world hadn't yet been exposed to a million interpretations of the pre-Marilyn girl who really, really wanted to be a movie star when this film came out. Rowe portrays her as a naive victim, making every minute of her rise to fame painful to watch.

    "Goodbye, Norma Jean is a terrible, witless, schlocky movie that Norma Jean Baker might have made in her desperation to be somebody," the New York Times review reads. While the Times credits Rowe with doing a pretty good impression, the character presented here isn't the figure who inspired so much idolatry.

  3. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JcKf0Txr-dk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    Video: Courtesy of YouTube.

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    1 of 10

    Lindsay Lohan, InAPPropriate Comedy (2013)

    Like Madonna before her, LiLo tends put on Monroe's persona when she needs to make an impact with few or no words. Lohan re-created many of the poses from Monroe's last (and nude) photo shoot for a New York magazine spread in 2008, and channeled the icon again for Playboy in 2011. Both shoots are vastly better than the Seven Year Itch subway grate/paparazzi revenge fantasy scene she does at the beginning and end of the 2013 movie InAPPropriate Comedy.

  4. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JaMhpQTE5O4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    Video: Courtesy of YouTube.

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    2 of 10

    Catherine Hicks, Marilyn: The Untold Story (ABC, 1980)

    In case you can't place the name and face, Hicks is the actress best known as the mom on 7th Heaven. But decades earlier, she actually made a convincing bombshell in this movie that earned her an Emmy nod, thanks to a charismatic, expressive face that doesn't exactly look like Monroe's, but compels us to watch her nonetheless.

  5. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DNSUOFgj97M" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    Video: Courtesy of YouTube.

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    3 of 10

    Madonna, "Material Girl" (1984)

    The early-to-mid '80s were a time of peak nostalgia for the '50s (we even had a '50s movie star for a president), so it wasn't all too shocking that a pop star on the rise was constantly paying homage to Marilyn. Madonna's 1984 video for "Material Girl" re-creates Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, both in costume and in spirit. Madonna was best at commandeering the actress' look and attitude for her own sex-symbol purposes — when she played Monroe on SNL in a 1985 skit about the Kennedys, her straight impersonation left a bit to be desired.

  6. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/7cs1OxGTWiA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    Video: Courtesy of YouTube.

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    4 of 10

    Charlotte Sullivan, The Kennedys (Reelz Channel, 2011)

    Sullivan's Monroe isn't the breathy sweetheart we're used to seeing in biopics; perhaps because this is the story of the threat she allegedly posed to Jack and Bobby Kennedy. Looking a lot like Madonna-as-Marilyn, Sullivan's interpretation is seductive and aggressive at times, which is kind of refreshing.