More Than a Bombshell: Marilyn Monroe’s 6 Greatest Performances

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Marilyn Monroe is one of the most celebrated and iconic actresses of all time, but she’s never won an Academy Award. In fact, critical acclaim for her acting eluded the actress for much of her career. That may come as a surprise to some, as in the modern era, Monroe has rightfully been recognized for her comedic gifts and subtleties — she’s now considered to have been a great actress. Unfortunately, during her lifetime, Monroe was not considered by many to have been talented, and was paid an astonishingly low salary in comparison to colleagues that would be forgotten as years passed. Now Marilyn is beloved for both her acting and sex appeal, and was recognized by the American Film Institute as the sixth greatest female movie star of all time.

Here’s a list of 6 performances that prove there were brains behind the beauty and that Marilyn was more than a dumb blonde, even if she was only playing one.


The sexy 1953 thriller Niagara was one of Monroe’s first starring features. The 1953 film centers on the dangerous sexual appetites of a woman who schemes with her lover to murder her much older, violent husband (played by Joseph Cotton.) While future comedies would result in Monroe being unfairly typecast as a dumb blonde, in this movie she’s a too smart for her own good whose unbarred sexuality makes her capable of anything, even a ruthless murder. The movie also contains what was at the time the longest walk ever filmed, a scene that made Marilyn’s ‘sexy walk’ famous, and put what the studio thought were her best assets on display.

Most praise for the moderately well-received film focused on the beauty of both Marilyn and the falls. This early film in Monroe’s career shows the actress using her potent sexuality in a much different way than her more famous comedic roles.

Fun fact: Andy Warhol used a promo shot from this movie to make his famous “Marilyn Diptych.”

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