Marilyn Monroe at age 22, Hollywood, 1949.
Marilyn Monroe, 22, takes dance lessons, Hollywood, 1949
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Marilyn Monroe, 22, takes singing lessons with bandleader Phil Moore at the famous West Hollywood nightclub, the Mocambo, in 1949.
The starlet lies in L.A.'s Griffith Park, reading a script and wearing a shirt with her monogrammed initials. This set of photos, never before published, was recently uncovered by LIFE, with little clues as to why they never saw the light of day
Two months after a small but important role in "The Asphalt Jungle," Monroe is bright-eyed and beautiful at a shoot by LIFE photographer Ed Clark.
"Marilyn strains, back against the mirror, bosom to all the world, in an attempt to get a mood of elation." After more practice, McKinney writes, "Marilyn plays the scene and her elation nearly pops her sweater if not her eyes."
What does it take to become a star?
In the fall of 1948, Marilyn Monroe had just a few roles in box office flops on her résumé -- but LIFE photographer J. R. Eyerman apparently saw enough of a glimmer in the 22-year-old starlet to follow her through the showbiz training that promised to make her big. The incredible -- and seldom seen -- images in this gallery are the first a LIFE photographer ever took of Monroe, though the magazine did not publish them at the time.
Of this photograph McKinney wrote, "She assumes the classic, much-painted posture of ballet girls adjusting their shoes." Around the time of Eyerman's shoot, Monroe was signed with Columbia Pictures, after a brief and unsuccessful six months at 20th Century Fox, and could be seen on screen as a dancer in Ladies of the Chorus. Ultimately, that movie tanked, and Monroe was once again dumped by a major studio -- but she would continue undeterred in her quest for fame.
Clad in a show-stopping red velvet dress and fur stole, 25-year-old starlet Marilyn Monroe glides across the floor of the Club Del Mar in Santa Monica, Calif., in January 1952. At this party, the actress — who'd just enjoyed another tiny but scene-stealing part in the comedy As Young as You Feel — would receive one of her very first career awards: the "Henrietta" for Best Young Box Office Personality, given by the Foreign Press Association of Hollywood.
Marilyn gives a sultry pose at her home.
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Marilyn is photographed laughing at her home.
Monroe performs "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," which would become a signature song for her, in the 1953 smash "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."
Jan. 14, 1954: Monroe and DiMaggio are all smiles after their San Francisco City Hall ceremony.
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Two days after they were wed in a secret civil ceremony, Monroe and acclaimed playwright Miller held a formal Jewish wedding on July 1, 1956, at a rented house in Katonah, New York. (At the time, Monroe was studying to convert to her husband's Jewish faith.) Later that day, they're spotted in a convertible on a New York City street as they prepare to drive to Miller's farm in Connecticut.
Take a look at some of Marilyn Monroe's most beautiful moments captured on film.