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Marilyn Monroe Converted to Judaism after Christian past — inside Her Religious Journey

Edduin Carvajal
Sep 12, 2020
12:00 P.M.

Actress Marilyn Monroe, who became a famous sex symbol in the 50s and died young, converted from Christianity to Judaism after marrying her third husband.


Born in June 1926, Norma Jeane Mortenson (best known as Marilyn Monroe) had a very tough childhood, especially because she spent several years in foster care and an orphanage. Sadly, while she was in foster homes, she was sexually assaulted.

[Marilyn Monroe] managed to understand and accept the basic principles of Judaism.

Marilyn Monroe in California circa 1953 | Photo: Getty Images

Marilyn Monroe in California circa 1953 | Photo: Getty Images



Marriage was virtually her only way out of such a challenging life, so at 16 years old, Monroe married merchant marine, Jimmy Dougherty.

Eventually, while working in a factory in Van Nuys, California, she was discovered by a photographer, and that's when her career as a model started.

It is important to note that Dougherty had been sent to the South Pacific during this time, and when he came back in 1946, he learned how successful Monroe was. That same year, the former couple divorced.


Monroe kept actively pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, landing acting gigs in movies like "Love Happy," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," and "How to Marry a Millionaire."

In 1954, when Monroe was at the pinnacle of her popularity, she married baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. Unfortunately, their relationship ended less than a year later.

During their time together, the late actress was having an affair with playwright Arthur Miller. In 1956, Miller became Marilyn Monroe's third and final spouse. That relationship changed her in more ways than one.



Two days after Monroe married Miller at a courthouse in Westchester County, New York, they held a religious ceremony in which she converted from Christianity to Judaism.

Marilyn Monroe reportedly once told actress Susan Strasberg that, since people are always out to get Jewish people no matter what they do, she could identify with them.


It has also been reported that the late sex symbol decided to convert to Judaism to be closer to her husband's family, a theory that has many followers mainly because she grew up without a real family.

Apart from that, Monroe's foster parents taught her conservative Christianity that she didn't like, which was another likely reason for her to convert to Judaism.



Miller's rabbi, Robert Goldburg, who also presided at their marriage and her conversion, wrote a letter about the late actress in which he recalled their pre-conversion study lessons. He said:

“[Monroe] indicated that she was impressed with the rationalism of Judaism, its ethical and prophetic ideals and its concept of close family life.”


He added that although Monroe was not an "intellectual" person and that she had a hard time staying focused for a long time, she really wanted to learn and managed to understand and accept the basic principles of Judaism.

In 1961, only one year before her passing, Monroe divorced Miller. She is believed to have kept her Jewish identity, though, as well as a prayer book – siddur – and a menorah until she died.


As most of us probably know already, Monroe passed away in her Brentwood home on August 4, 1962. The dead body of the late actress was discovered by her psychiatrist and housekeeper at 3:30 a.m. on August 5. She was only 36 years old.

After performing an autopsy, experts concluded that Marilyn Monroe's death was the result of an overdose of sleeping pills, which corresponds with the fact that she had called her psychiatrist complaining about having trouble sleeping.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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