Katharine McPhee or Megan Hilty, whoever plays Marilyn Monroe in the show-within-the-show on Smash, the delving into her larger-than-life persona probably won’t go into Norma Jeane’s charitable work…but for a superstar of her era, she set a mighty fine example. Today is Marilyn’s birthday, so I thought I’d try to find some of the ways she reached out to make the world a better place.
In 1953 she performed with Jane Russell in a fundraising benefit at the Hollywood Bowl for underprivileged children at St. Jude’s hospital.
While still traveling on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio, she did three gigs for US service members serving in Korea.
Worked with WAIF (World Adoption International Fund–founded by Jane Russell in 1955), an organization that facilitated more than 50,000 abandoned children being adopted.
In 1955 she rode a pink elephant at a benefit gala for Mike Todd’s Celebrity Circus at Madison Square Garden for the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation.
Marilyn gave her earnings from the world premiere of The Prince and The Showgirl to The Milk Fund For Babies.
1958 March of Dimes Fashion Parade to aid children with polio.
Donated to a children’s welfare organization that provided free breakfasts to underprivileged children.
This one is well known: Marilyn visited an orphanage in Mexico and wrote a check for $1000 while the press was there–and after they left she tore it up and wrote a new one for $10,000.
Was a member and lent her name and efforts to SANE, an organization dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons.
Her last public appearance was at Dodger Stadium for a benefit for muscular dystrophy.