Norma Jeane Changes Name to Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jeane chose to celebrate her good fortune with her new associates -- Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels.

The first order of business was to change the young actress's name -- Lyon utterly loathed "Norma Jeane Dougherty."

Lyon remembered a stage actress from the 1920s whom he had long admired -- a musical performer named Marilyn Miller. He thought "Marilyn" would better suit Norma Jeane's new, glamorous identity as a Hollywood starlet.

For her part, Norma Jeane suggested her mother's family name, "Monroe," as a last name. Lyon liked the alliteration of "Marilyn Monroe," and told Norma Jeane that the double "M" was a lucky omen. So it was that in the course of one afternoon, Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker Dougherty was transformed into Marilyn Monroe.

She was forever grateful to Lyon for his support and his help. A few years later, when Marilyn Monroe was on top, she sent Lyon a photograph inscribed: "You found me, named me and believed in me when no one else did. My love and thanks forever."

Following her idol Jean Harlow, Norma Jeane decided to choose her mother's maiden name of Monroe. Several variations such as Norma Jeane Monroe and Norma Monroe were tried and initially "Jeane Monroe" was chosen. Lyon, however, felt that there were too many actresses with the name Jean, or a variation of it such as Jean Peters, Gene Tierney, Jeanne Crain, and Jean Arthur. Wanting a more distinctive name, Lyon suggested "Marilyn," commenting that she reminded him of Marilyn Miller, the sexy 1920's Broadway actress. Norma Jeane was initially hesitant due to the fact that Marilyn was the contraction of the name Mary Lynn, a name she did not like. Lyon, however, felt that the name "Marilyn Monroe" was sexy, had a "nice flow," and would be "lucky" due to the double "M"and thus Norma Jeane Baker took the name Marilyn Monroe.