Symposium spotlight: Was Marilyn property?

Marilyn Monroe

Dr Francine Rochford provided insightful food for thought in her most recent op-ed piece, in which she spoke on the concept of “people as property”. Far and wide she has since sparked mass interest , most recently appearing on ABC radio Wednesday morning.

We know that the relationship between Monroe and the studio was ‘mediated’ by contract.  When she signed a contract, she was in selling aspects of herself – her labour, her image, her time. 

Does this make her ‘property’? Modern law would say no. Even not-so-modern law would say no.”

Dr Rochford brought forth compelling cases to her audience, such as the worth that an individual’s portrayed image can coerce in our world.

“One and a half inches of Norma Jeane Mortenson’s hair was offered at auction recently. As an offcut of Norma Jeane, a piece of hair would probably not be of much value (or use) to anyone other than a bereft boyfriend or perhaps a DNA analyst. 

Labelled as a piece of Marilyn Monroe, however, the peroxided lock can be transferred at a high value.”


Dr Francine Rochford will speak in depth on the curious topic at the Marilyn Monroe Symposium at ACMI in Melbourne on November 12.

To purchase tickets, head to the La Trobe University event page.