Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, she began working as a model in 1944 using the name Jean Norman. By 1946, she had appeared on 33 magazine covers for publications such as Pageant, U.S. Camera, Laff, and Peek.
In 1946 she was signed by 20th Century Fox, using the stage name Marilyn Monroe.
She had bit parts in Dangerous Years (1947) and Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948).
In 1948, with her hairline raised and hair bleached platinum blonde, she starred as a chorus girl in Ladies of the Chorus
In 1949 she posed nude for photographer Tom Kelley.