Sin, sin, sin. Morning and night, that was all they talked about in the little frame house in the California poor-town where Norma Jeane Baker lived in the early years of the Depression. ‘You’re wicked, Norma Jeane,’ the old woman used to shrill at the little girl. ‘You better be careful, or you know where you’ll go.’ Norma Jeane was careful, especially not to talk back. If she did, she got whaled with a razor strop and told that a homeless girl should be more grateful to folks who had put a roof above her head. One night, when the child went to sleep in her cot, she had a strangely exhilarating and frightening dream: ‘I dreamed that I was standing up in church without any clothes on, and all the people there were lying at my feet on the floor of the church, and I walked naked, with a sense of freedom, over their prostrate forms, being careful not to step on anyone.’
On May 14, 1956 Marilyn Monroe graced the cover of TIME. In a cover story titled, “From Aristophanes and Back,” the blond bombshell spilled the secrets of her abused childhood for our readers. It wasn’t the first, or last time Monroe would appear in the pages of TIME. In fact, TIME mentioned her in nearly one hundred stories from 1953 to 1956.
On the 50th anniversary of her death, Richard Corliss revisits TIME’s 1956 cover story on Monroe. Read it on TIME.com here.