Marilyn Monroe in a screenshot from the 1955 film Seven Year Itch

Marilyn Monroe died more than 50 years ago, but Americans are still as obsessed with her as ever. And it’s Monroe’s birthday today, so there’s a good chance you’ll see even more photos of her on Facebook and Pinterest than usual. But be careful, because many of them are completely fake.

Below we have just a few of the photos that you’ll probably see today—many of which we’ve debunked in previous blog posts. Don’t be fooled. None of them are what they appear to be at first glance.

Lookalikes of Marilyn Monroe and JFK (left); The real Marilyn Monroe and JFK at a fundraiser in May 19, 1962 (right)

1) Is this Marilyn and John F. Kennedy hugging?

The photo on the left sure looks like Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy engaged in a tender embrace. But it’s not. Those are two lookalike actors staged by photographer Alison Jackson. Jackson is famous for using lookalikes to put famous figures in weird and sometimes compromised positions.

Despite solid rumors that Kennedy and Monroe enjoyed a years-long on and off love affair, there are no photos of them hugging. The closest we have is the photo on the right—a May 19, 1962 Democratic fundraiser in New York.

Photoshopped image of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean (Twitter)

2) Is this Marilyn Monroe and James Dean?

Marilyn Monroe and James Dean both led glamorous, incredibly short lives. Which is perhaps why they’re so often pasted together in photoshopped fabrications like this one.

Photos of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean before they were photoshopped together

The original photo of Marilyn was taken in March of 1955 on top of the Ambassador Hotel in New York. I haven’t been able to figure out precisely who took the original photo of Dean, but judging by the sweater Dean’s wearing I’m guessing it’s a behind the scenes shot from his 1955 film East of Eden.

James Dean in the film East of Eden (1955)

Above we can see Dean wearing the same sweater in a screenshot from East of Eden, based on John Steinbeck’s 1952 book of the same name. Looks like the same sweater to me.



3) Is this photo on the left of Marilyn Monroe?

The photo on the left is often captioned as being of Marilyn Monroe. But take a closer look. It’s not Marilyn.


It’s amazing how often photos of Jayne Mansfield are passed off as Marilyn Monroe. Well, maybe not that amazing. Mansfield quite explicitly tried to mimic Monroe’s mannerisms and style. And she succeeded in some areas, landing roles in movies and doing plenty of photo shoots—though she would forever be known as “the poor man’s Marilyn Monroe.”

Photoshopped image (left) and real image (right)

4) Is this Marilyn Monroe reading a book in Spanish?

No, that’s not Marilyn Monroe reading Confesiones Silenciosas (translated: Silent Confessions). It’s a photoshopped image. The real photo is on the right where we can see she’s reading Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People.


Monroe was married to Arthur Miller from 1956 until 1961 but it’s rumored that Monroe and JFK were together off and on during her marriage to Miller.

Two photos of JFK and Marilyn Monroe lookalikes

5) Is this John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe canoodling?

Hey look! Another photo of Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy together. Except that it’s 100 percent fake. This angle makes that a bit more clear, given the viewer’s perspective on JFK’s face. Also, just look at his hand on “Marilyn’s” back. He looks like he’s hugging his high school prom date. JFK had more suave than that.


A photoshopped composite of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley

6) Is this Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley on a rooftop?

Why is Elvis Presley shirtless on a rooftop with Marilyn Monroe? I’m not sure, to be honest. All I know is that the photo is completely fake.


Two photos of model Elsa Sorensen

7) Is this Marilyn Monroe in the pool?

The image on the left gets passed around on Pinterest and Twitter as a photo of Marilyn. But no, that’s not Marilyn Monroe.


Admittedly, it looks a bit like her, but it’s actually Elsa Sorensen. Sorensen was a Danish model and Playboy Playmate in 1956. She bears a striking resemblance to Monroe given the right angle, but it’s not Marilyn. Another photo of Sorensen where she’s facing the camera appears on the right.

Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962 of either an accidental pill overdose, an intentional pill overdose, or a CIA-backed assassination. Our money is on one of the former rather than the latter, but who knows? Either way, today we celebrate her life rather than her death. Happy birthday, Marilyn.


Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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