When Marilyn Monroe first hit the movie scene, she was pretty much typecast as the ditzy blonde. There really is no other way to put it, and eventually, Monroe couldn’t take it anymore.
So she decided to start creating her own roles.
More specifically, Monroe founded Marilyn Monroe Productions in 1955, along with friend and photographer Milton Greene. Monroe would own 51 percent of the company and serve as president. Greene was vice-president, owning a 49-percent stake in the company.
Again, this was so Monroe could tackle more serious parts.
“It’s not that I object to doing musicals and comedies — in fact, I rather enjoy them — but I’d like to do dramatic parts, too,” she told journalist Edward R. Murrow at the time, via Entertainment Weekly.
It also allowed Monroe to re-create her image, something which with she seemingly was never completely satisfied. But it came at a cost.
Fox immediately sued Monroe for breach of contract, creating a yearlong series of intense and perhaps contentious negotiations. Finally, a settlement was reached.
“The non-exclusive deal won Monroe a check for past earnings, a new salary of $100,000 for four movies over a seven-year period, and approval over all major aspects of her productions, including script, director and cinematographer,” wrote Maureen Lee Lenker of EW.
But the win was short-lived. Monroe’s company made just two films before her untimely death in 1962 at the age of 36. Her life story has been told countless times, most recently in Netflix’s Blonde — which, interestingly enough, is produced by Brad Pitt’s own production company, Plan B Entertainment.
Still, Monroe’s decision to start her own company was viewed as brave at the time, winning her even more approval from critics and fans.
“That was her way of achieving creative freedom,” Monroe biographer Elizabeth Winder said, via Lenker. “The studio owned her, and she knew that she couldn’t remain in that system, but she also didn’t want to give up acting. This was her way to be able to be the type of actress she knew she could be, and always wanted to be. There wasn’t really a way for her to do it in a smaller way.”