How Hollywood Icon Marilyn Monroe Was Discovered Working In A WWII Weapons Factory
The legendary beauty was working an average job when a photo of her ended up leading to fame and fortune
60 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most iconic figures in American history. The Hollywood actress and pinup model was known for her bottle blonde hair and stunning beauty, and is still used as a standard for sex symbols to this day. However, before all of her fame, she was an average California girl who was only discovered after a photograph of her helping build a drone at her job in a World War II munitions factory was published in a magazine and got the attention of national photographers and modeling agencies.
Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, was raised in the Los Angeles area — spending much of her childhood in orphanages and foster care. Married at the age of 16, she obtained a job in a factory helping make weaponry for the United States during World War II. It was there that she was accidentally discovered, which set her off on a meteoric rise to fame.
The influx of women workers during the war was considered an unprecedented phenomenon. More women joined the workforce at the time to replace the numerous soldiers fighting overseas. Accordingly, the media couldn’t get enough pictures and videos of ladies filling in such unfamiliar roles.
David Conover of Yank magazine was in a Van Nuys military factory in 1944 fulfilling an assignment to take pictures of the women helping produce weaponry for the war effort. One of the workers whose photos he took and ended up being published was Norma Jeanne, who at that time was going by her married surname of Dougherty. Still just 18, her fresh-faced beauty and youth stood out in her photos, which depicted the then brunette proudly showing off part of a drone that she was working on. Her primary job was spraying the components being produced with a fire retardant.
Norma Jeane made such an impression that Conover recommended her soon after to a colleague named Bill Carroll who was seeking a model to shoot some pictures for his portfolio. She agreed to be his subject for $20, and from there additional offers rolled in. Even after she shot…