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The Sex Goddess in American Film, 1930–1965: Jean Harlow, Mae West, Lana Turner, and ...

Chapter Introduction:  Introduction
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The Sex Goddess in American Film, 1930–1965:


Sex and the Goddess

Sometimes I’ve been to a party where no one spoke to me for a whole evening. The men, frightened by their wives or sweeties… The ladies would gang up in a corner and discuss my dangerous character.

—Marilyn Monroe

With the remaining mystery surrounding her untimely death, as well as the continued popularity of her films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Some Like it Hot (1959), Marilyn Monroe endures in the popular imagination. Through mass (re)production of her image, as in Andy Warhol's famous painting, and frequent celebrity imitation, Monroe's sex-goddess image continues to influence popular culture. That Monroe may be in fact considered the quintessential American sex goddess is relevant to this discussion. The womanly figure of the sex goddess in American film and popular culture continues to exert a powerful influ-ence on both men and women, and, perhaps just as importantly for the particular focus of this book, on feminist film theory itself. The sex