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Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980)

The story of how Norma Jean, once an orphan in Hollywood, becomes Marilyn Monroe, the movie star and celebrity. The movie begins with her as a child and ends with the mysterious way she ... See full summary »


Norman Mailer (novel), Dalene Young
Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Catherine Hicks ... Marilyn Monroe
Richard Basehart ... Johnny Hyde
Frank Converse ... Joe DiMaggio
John Ireland ... John Huston
Viveca Lindfors ... Natasha Lytess
Jason Miller ... Arthur Miller
Sheree North ... Gladys Baker
Kevin Geer ... Jim Dougherty
Tracey Gold ... Young Norma Jean
Priscilla Morrill ... Louella Parsons
John Christy Ewing John Christy Ewing ... Lawyer
Bill Vint Bill Vint ... Montgomery Clift
Larry Pennell ... Clark Gable
Heath Jobes Heath Jobes ... Tom Ewell
Howard Caine ... Billy Wilder


The story of how Norma Jean, once an orphan in Hollywood, becomes Marilyn Monroe, the movie star and celebrity. The movie begins with her as a child and ends with the mysterious way she dies. Throughout the movie, we see the highlights and lowlights of her career, including the parts of her private life not widely known. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Her image was perfection . . . her life was a personal hell.


Biography | Drama







Release Date:

28 September 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Marilyn Monroe - Eine wahre Geschichte See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Bonnie Bedelia was approached to play Marilyn Monroe, but turned said offer down. See more »


Joe DiMaggio is shown at an Old Timers game batting left-handed. DiMaggio was a right-handed hitter. See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Drew Barrymore/Squeeze (1982) See more »


Happy Birthday
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
Performed by Catherine Hicks
See more »

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User Reviews

Marilyn, Mailer, and Miller
7 June 2009 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

Lawrence Schiller's retelling of The Life (and Death) of Marilyn Monroe is, for its time, one of the better trips down a well-traveled road. By 1980, when "The ABC Sunday Night Movie" aired this highly touted biography, there were dozens of stories about Ms. Monroe. New and re-printed books were joined by acclaimed writer Norman Mailer's 1973 "Marilyn" biography. Monroe films were, thanks to television airings, seen by more people than ever before. And, Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" became a radio standard. Marilyn Monroe was more popular than ever.

Mr. Mailer's book (and others) helped create the mythology of Monroe. Every new project needed some startling new revelation - so, by 1980, truth became fiction. Wisely, "Marilyn: The Untold Story" sticks to factual situations - thankfully, there are no orgies with either Kennedys or aliens - like Mailer's book, the movie speculates Monroe's troubled life was the result poor parenting, particularly at fault is her father. So, Monroe's absent father is the villain (by the way, the cold-hearted man Monroe contacts during the running time is likely telling the truth); so, she intermittently tries to replace, or contact, "Daddy".

Catherine Hicks, in sheer slips and tight outfits, is a sufficiently sexy Marilyn. But, her characterization, like the film, is uneven. Opening scenes, with young Tracey Gould (as Norma Jean) and schizophrenic Sheree North (as Gladys Baker) are enjoyable; and, Ms. Hicks does well with hunky Kevin Geer (as James Dougherty). It's also nice to see Hicks portray, albeit too briefly, a more realistic Monroe during the "Actor's Studio" scenes (with handsome fellow-traveler James Hayden, as David); Monroe used her "sex symbol persona" when the cameras weren't running, but not constantly (when sober).

The teleplay is hit or miss until the movie covers Monroe's work on "The Misfits" (1962). Hang in for some truly amazing scenes recreating Monroe (Hicks), Clark Gable (Larry Pennell), Montgomery Clift (Bill Vint), John Huston (John Ireland), and Arthur Miller (Jason Miller) as they work out Monroe's last released feature film. You may think you're watching some lost "behind-the-scenes" color footage from the original black-and-white film. This interesting portion is, of course, punctuated by a hokey ending… Gable guilt, freeze-frame, and "Goodbye, Norma Jean…" with Billy Preston and Syreeta.

****** Marilyn: The Untold Story (9/28/80) Lawrence Schiller ~ Catherine Hicks, Jason Miller, Frank Converse, Richard Basehart

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