How Marilyn took the male-led film industry and flipped it on its head

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(CNN)Marilyn Monroe went down successful the past books arsenic a blonde bombshell who galore wrote disconnected arsenic conscionable a beauteous face. But Monroe was a trailblazer.

When she was dismissed arsenic a replaceable actress, Monroe knew her worthy and boldly advocated for herself.

    "She was uncovering her power," said lensman Nancy Lee Andrews. "Becoming Marilyn is not a tragedy. It's a triumph."

      When you analyse this iconic movie prima off-camera, the extent of her beingness comes into afloat picture. Here's a behind-the-scenes look astatine however Monroe strategically navigated her career.

      Not conscionable different dumb blonde

      One of Monroe's aboriginal hits was the philharmonic drama "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." She played a dumb blonde golden digger named Lorelei, a showgirl sailing to France to wed a affluent man.

      "I tin beryllium astute erstwhile it's important. But astir men don't similar it," she says successful the film, a enactment Monroe insisted connected using.

      Monroe had nary power implicit casting portion nether declaration with 20th Century Fox. The studios had a stranglehold connected the industry. This was besides a clip erstwhile precise fewer women were producing, penning oregon directing. In the mid-1950s, lone 5% of US movie writers were female, according to a survey by Luis Amaral of Northwestern University.

      Despite the deficiency of pistillate representation, Monroe recovered powerfulness by adding complexity to these elemental characters.

      "It was important successful the improvement of Marilyn's vocation and prima persona due to the fact that Lori is the dumb blonde who's not arsenic dumb arsenic you deliberation she is," said Sarah Churchwell, a prof of American lit astatine the University of London.

      Monroe played into assumptions to catapult herself into stardom.

      "If you are capable to not lone beryllium successful connected the gag but to power it, that to maine is the people of a genius," said histrion Amber Tamblyn.

      Finding her powerfulness and warring for her worthy

      Monroe starred successful respective large hits successful 1953, including "How to Marry a Millionaire," wherever again she played a dumb blonde. The movie earned Fox $15 million, equivalent to $150 cardinal today.

      After being asked to play different beauteous one-note starring relation successful the philharmonic comedy, "The Girl successful Pink Tights," Monroe was fed up. She virtually labeled it "trash" and handed it backmost to the caput of the studio, Darryl Zanuck, according to biographer Cindy De La Hoz-Sipala.

      She besides learned that her costar successful the film, Frank Sinatra, would gain $5,000 a week, portion she made lone $1,500, according to The Marilyn Monroe Collection.

      "She was the main attraction," said histrion Mira Sorvino. "I mean, she was the crushed that radical flocked to the theater. So, it was insane that she wasn't fixed a overmuch much almighty presumption successful presumption of salary."

      Monroe refused the relation until her wage and conditions were improved.

      "For anyone who thinks Monroe was a perpetual victim, she walked disconnected the acceptable of 'Pink Tights.' Enough said," said Molly Haskell, writer and movie critic.

      The movie was ne'er made, and the workplace changed Monroe's contract, giving her a rise for aboriginal roles.

      Monroe's David versus Goliath gamble

      In 1954, Monroe filmed the astir celebrated infinitesimal of her career: erstwhile her formal blows up implicit a subway grate. The country is featured successful "The Seven Year Itch," which was a immense deed astatine the container office.

      Remember erstwhile   Marilyn Monroe's achromatic  cocktail formal  made movie   history?

      She was astatine the pinnacle of her occurrence but was inactive being typecast. So, she near Hollywood.

      Breaking her declaration with Fox, she went to New York and launched her ain movie company, Marilyn Monroe Productions. She besides took classes astatine the Actors Studio. This was each successful an effort, arsenic she said, to beryllium seen arsenic a "serious actress."

      Within a year, Fox conceded and offered Monroe a caller declaration -- giving her a higher salary, manager support and the state to marque films done her ain accumulation company.

      "She got everything she wanted, everything, which was unheard of successful 1955," said Amy Greene, Monroe's friend, who was with her erstwhile she received the news.

      "She was whip smart, witty, ambitious, strategical and supra all, incredibly courageous," said Sam Starbuck, enforcement shaper of "Reframed: Marilyn Monroe." "She knew her worthy and she refused to beryllium dominated by the antheral workplace bosses successful Hollywood. She challenged the presumption quo, turning the tables connected them clip and clip again, and winning."

      Proving her acting chops

      Monroe's archetypal movie nether her caller declaration was "Bus Stop." This was her accidental to amusement disconnected her acting chops.

      She played a failed instrumentalist named Chérie, who aspired to beryllium a large star. Monroe insisted connected ghostly constitution due to the fact that she believed this quality ne'er got retired successful the sunlight. She besides perfected an Ozark accent for the role.

      "We tin spot that Marilyn Monroe's physicality is being treated otherwise from earlier movies," said Jeanine Basinger, a prof successful movie studies astatine Wesleyan University. "There's a antithetic prime to it. It's much realistic. It's little voyeuristic."

      Critics praised Monroe's performance.

      "A batch of radical said that she truly deserved an Academy Award information for that role," said movie professional Christina Newland.

      Monroe creates a movie with her ain accumulation company

      Monroe's adjacent determination was to nutrient the film, "The Prince and the Showgirl" with her accumulation company.

      "'The Prince and the Showgirl' was going to yet show everything that she had been warring for a decade, that she was going to get each of that credibility that she wanted," said Churchwell.

        Marilyn played Elsie, an American showgirl, who falls for a European prince, played by Laurence Olivier. There were challenges during the filming, similar Monroe's tardiness, but successful beforehand of the camera, she shined.

        "People who worked with her spoke astir these astute notes she would springiness aft watching the [footage], wherever she said precise circumstantial things that she was not blessed with and why," said Alicia Malone, big connected Turner Classic Movies. "They were emblematic of a pistillate who knew her trade and knew precisely what she wanted and precisely what she needed."

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