If you can't quote Monroe at her worst, you don't deserve her at her best

By Alex Heigl
August 05, 2017 11:30 AM
Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty

Iconic actress and model Marilyn Monroe, who was born in 1926 and died Aug. 5, 1962, would’ve turned 91 this past June. Long past her death, she has continued to be a source of inspiration for modern day women and continues to have quotes of hers circulated online.

There’s one problem with that, though: Monroe didn’t actually say many of the quotes that are attributed to her. Here are some of her commonly circulated quotes that have the lone drawback of not originating from the iconic actress.


Monroe would spend hours on her makeup and her mother dealt with severe paranoid schizophrenia (and spent most of her life institutionalized), so it’s deeply unlikely that she would be lionizing either imperfections or “madness.” It’s unclear from where this quote actually originates.


The Cadillac of incorrectly-attributed Marilyn Monroe quotes. This one simply appears to have been made up whole-cloth – there’s no record of Monroe saying it or anything similar.


Also popularly attributed (perhaps correctly?) to Kurt Cobain.


This one’s at least in the neighborhood of being an actual Monroe quote, and has an interesting story behind it. It’s also got a source: A telegram, dated June 13, 1962, in which Monroe declined an invitation to a party, saying, “Unfortunately, I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demanded was our right to twinkle.”


This quote actually appears to have originated with Bette Midler in the 1980s. She was writing in a newspaper supplement called Family Weekly in 1980, and answered a question about her preference for shoes by saying (in part) “With the right footwear one can rule the world.” By the late ’80s it was gendered to girls, and somewhere after the millennium it started being attributed to Monroe.


Also frequently attributed to Kurt Cobain, though where exactly he said it is unclear. (Also, the second pair of quotations is backwards and it’s driving our copy editors insane.) It may turn up somewhere in Cobain’s Journals, but in any case, he was paraphrasing Nobel Prize-winning French writer André Gide; the quote appears in Autumn Leaves, a collection of Gide’s writings that was first published in 1950.

“Size 0” wasn’t a thing when Monroe was alive. She died in 1962, and the term didn’t become popular until model Twiggy arrived on the scene in 1966. It wasn’t even adopted as an actual size by designers until years later.