In February 2011 I visited Haugesund in Norway and as I explored the small city we headed back in the direction of the waterfront and down at the harbour side came across a statue of a young and flirty Marilyn Monroe. The reason it seems that she should surprisingly turn up here is that her father, Martin Mortensen, came from the villageof Skjold, just twenty kilometres away and lived in Haugesund before emigrating to America in about 1880. After abandoning his family after only six months of marriage, he was killed in a motorcycle crash without ever seeing his daughter – Norma Jean Mortensen who was born on 1st June 1926.
The biggest tragedy of 1962 was probably that Marilyn didn’t have a long life herself and died prematurely when she committed suicide at her Beverly Hills Mansion. Or perhaps she was murdered by the United States secret service because of embarrassing rumours that she was having an affair with President Kennedy? This story is a bit like the ongoing speculation into the death of Princess Diana and in both cases it is doubtful that we will ever be absolutely sure. One thing that is certain however is that her death launched her as an iconic image of the 1960s and an enduring representation of perhaps the World’s most sexy and desirable woman since Helen of Troy.