In 1946, Norma Jean’s modeling career had taken off, coinciding with the boom in exploitation magazines. Though nonexistent today, these types of publications flooded the market after World War II, particularly after paper rationing ended in 1950. Several types of exploitation magazines appeared on newsstands following the war. Some were devoted to lurid crime stories,others to dime store romance or Hollywood scandal. A significant number were aimed at men. Because Norma Jeane was not the tall, willowy type best suited for fashion modeling, she began to make her mark in pin-up magazines such as Laff, Peek, See, Glamorous Models, Cheesecake, and U.S. Camera. A result of the popularity of the pin-up during the war, these inexpensive magazines featured the best in cheesecake photography.
Contrary to what might be assumed today, the magazines did not include photographs of nudes but displayed women in bathing suits, negligees, towels, and other scanty but tasteful attire. By modern standards, the layouts are amusing, even innocent.The pinup magazines played an indirect role in the Hollywood star system during this era by bringing certain models to the attention of the movie studios. Although eventually forced into extinction by the bolder Playboy and its many imitators, these earlier magazines provided invaluable exposure for many ambitious models who aimed for Hollywood careers.
Photographer Earl Moran’s comments about Marilyn echo those of other photographers from throughout her career: “She knew exactly what to do, her movements, her hands, her body were just perfect. She was the sexiest. Better than anyone else. Emotionally, she did everything right. She expressed just what I wanted.” By this time Norma Jean had become Marilyn Monroe, platinum blonde long hair, a voluptuous body and unforgettably beautiful face.Little trace was left of Norma Jean. Now the world glimpsed the young starlet who was on her way to fame beyond even her imagination.