08/06/2012 03:43 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2012

Her Candle Blew Out Long Ago But Her Legend Never Did

Aug. 5, 2012 became more than just a Sunday; it represents the 50th anniversary of the passing of one of Hollywood's iconic actresses, Marilyn Monroe. One of the most written and photographed people of the 20th century, her passing on Aug. 5, 1962 ended one of the most promising careers but launching her into legendary status.

No other actress or historical figure has had more pictures, images, books and merchandise about them; Marilyn's picture graces thousands of projects, and the number is growing nearly every year. She is considered the wealthiest dead celebrity, right next to Elvis and James Dean. And her passing is one of the most controversial. Every moment of that night in August is up for grabs, from conversations with her housekeeper and doctor, to the involvement of the Kennedy brothers, to the speculation that she took her own life because she was despondent. All questions but no answers and any type of documentation related to those last few hours has all but disappeared. We'll always wonder what happened and wonder why.

Marilyn Monroe was more than just a sex goddess; she was a woman who took on an entire movie system and changed the image of women forever. She made it possible to be a size 16 and still be gorgeous. When everyone thought she'd be forever known as the dumb blonde, she took charge of her career and created her own production company -- a first since Mary Pickford -- which allowed her to pick and chose roles she wanted, to explore a deeper side of her soul and to become known as so much more. She wanted so much to be loved for more than her body, she wanted them to take notice of her brains and she fought like hell for that right but it wasn't meant to be, and in the end, it came back that she was found nude of a pill overdose.

We know the basic facts of Marilyn's life and how she came to Hollywood -- an orphaned child abandoned by her mother who was committed because she had suffered from mental problems all her life and Marilyn forced to marry at 16 so she wouldn't return as a ward of the state -- but what do we really know about her? What she felt and how she coped? We know that she tried to commit suicide several times; she wanted so much to be loved and give love back.

What would have happened had she lived? Would she have stayed in movies or left the business to finally have the family she wanted so badly, the baby she was desperate for? Would she have remarried Joe DiMaggio or would she have found a plain Joe and settled down to forget her movie star life? There are so many what-ifs and the possibilities are endless.

We don't look at Marilyn Monroe as a movie star; we look at someone who overcame adversity and abuse as a child to a grown woman who held the world at her finger tips with just a simple smile. We look at her as a role model of what hard work and determination pays off to be. That to reach for the stars isn't enough, we must reach beyond them and never let go.

I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else. -- Marilyn Monroe

She was absolutely right. She belonged to the world and she always will.