We know Marilyn Monroe as an icon and an enigma, the ultimate movie star whose combination of sweetness and sexual magnetism, curiosity and neurosis, fame and tragedy continue to fascinate fans four decades after she died. Biographers and conspiracy theorists still debate the circumstances of her death at age 36, but many aspects of her life are also mysterious, perhaps most of all how she did what she did.
Monroe's ability to mesmerize viewers and crowds stood in stark contrast to the deep insecurities, paralyzing anxiety, and substance abuse issues her biographers have described. Did she consciously switch back and forth between the imperfect, striving woman she was and the flawless, often giddy persona she projected -- did she, as the Monroe character in the recent film "My Week With Marilyn" puts it, decide when to "be Her" -- or were the two inextricable from one another?
On August 5, the 50th anniversary of Monroe's death, here's a look at Monroe in a few moments when she seemed at least not to be trying so hard to "be Her," when she seemed to be just her.
LOOK: Candid Photos Of The "Real" Marilyn Monroe
On The Train
Riding from New York City to Warrensburg, New York in June 1949 to promote her new film 'Love Happy.' In Warrensburg she presented a Photoplay Magazine 'Dream House' contest winner with the keys to their new home.
Sitting on a curb applying her make-up in January 1952. The book beside her is "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Body-Mabel-Elsworth-Todd/dp/0939266547" target="_hplink">The Thinking Body</a>" by Mabel Todd, about the mind-body connection in yoga and dance.
Barefoot in 1955.
Out To Eat
In a restaurant in New York City in March 1955.
Back Seat Conversation
Riding the back of a car with her agent, Dick Shepherd, in New York in March 1955.
Reading The Paper
With the <em>Motion Picture Daily</em> in her hotel room at the Ambassador Hotel in New York City in March 1955.
Waiting For The Subway
Waiting for the subway in Grand Central Station in March 1955.
At a restaurant in New York City in March 1955.
On the set of "The Misfits" between scenes with actor Eli Wallach in 1960.
In The Shade
With her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller in August 1962. <em><strong>CORRECTION:</strong> An earlier version of this caption indicated that Arthur Miller was Marilyn Monroe's second husband. He was her third.</em>
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, the anniversary was listed incorrectly. Aug. 5 is the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death.