In autumn 1948, Marilyn Monroe was a target of Life's photographer JR Eyerman who apparently seen enough of a glimpse of the star of 22 years to follow through education showbiz and who promised to make hes Big! The amazing, and seldom seen images in this gallery, is the first photographer of life has never been a Monroe, but the magazine did not publish at the time. (In fact, it would not be visible in the pages of LIFE until October 1949, with seven others when unknown Hollywood "girls").
But now, during what would have been Monroe's 85th birthday (June 1, 2011), the LIFE.com gems at their original splendor and watch the early career Monroe, dance, theater, and during song that helped make her an icon of the age. Take a look at: