Marilyn Monroe Wasn't A Natural Blonde Bombshell

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Since the release of the controversial biopic "Blonde" starring Ana de Armas, the life of pop culture icon Marilyn Monroe has once again come under scrutiny. Many people know Monroe from her iconic imagery, which has appeared on everything from modern-day advertisements to Target-sold wall prints. Her old Hollywood beauty is so memorable that it still inspires designers, celebrities, and well, pretty much everyone around the world.

Monroe's platinum blonde hair is a key element of her famous look, typically styled as a voluminous bob. However, while taking a look at a fictionalized rendition of Monroe's tragic childhood, "Blonde" reveals that the model wasn't always a blonde-haired beauty. In scenes depicting her as a child, the movie shows young Marilyn with light brown hair.

While "Blonde" may embellish or fictionalize certain aspects of Monroe's life, it's true that the celebrity wasn't a natural blonde. Many photos from her early modeling career show the actor with a hair color that can be classified as light brown or ash blonde. So, how did Monroe become the stunningly transformed blonde bombshell that she's known as today?

The story behind Monroe's platinum color

Photos from Marilyn Monroe's early career as a model showcase her natural hair color, a light brown color distinctly different from the platinum color she's associated with. In a 1962 interview, Emmeline Snively, the owner of the Blue Book Modeling Agency where Monroe spent her early career, shared that it was her own urging that led to Monroe's iconic blonde appearance.

"She had what I call 'California blonde' hair which is darker in the winter and lighter in the summer because it's bleached on top," Snively explained. "I had to talk her into anything that was not just natural and not Norma Jeane Doherty, which was her name then. She had to be talked into lightening it so that she was a blonde in the winter as well as in the summer and we had it straightened and I noticed that she kept it that way all the rest of her life."

According to an excerpt from "Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modeling Years" by Astrid Franse and Michelle Morgan featured by TheCinemaholic, Snively reasoned that a blonde and straightened look would get Monroe further in her career, especially because she believed it would balance her features. While we can't know if Monroe would have seen success as a brunette, it's undeniable that her blonde hair became an iconic feature of her look.

How Marilyn achieved her iconic blonde look

Knowing the 'why' behind Marilyn Monroe's platinum blonde locks, you might wonder about the 'how.' As reported by 29Secrets, the icon's journey to the color she called "pillow-case white" began in 1946 at Frank & Joseph's Beauty Salon. Hairdresser Sylvia Barnhart began the process of straightening Monroe's hair, which in turn lightened her tresses.

It was quite a while before the celebrity's hair reached the white-blonde color she's known for, during which she saw a host of famous hair stylists such as Kenneth Battelle, Gladys Rasmussen, and Pearl Porterfield. Accordingly, Monroe's hair was treated every three weeks with peroxide and bleach to maintain the platinum look.

On the process, Rasmussen once commented, "There are several problems with doing Marilyn's hair; it's very fine and therefore hard to manage...The way we [get] her shade of platinum is with my own secret blend of Sparkling Silver bleach plus 20 volume peroxide and a secret formula of silver platinum rinse to take the yellow out."