When Marilyn Monroe Discovered That “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”

When Marilyn Monroe declared that “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she cemented her eternal place in Hollywood history. More than just a sex symbol, her seemingly endless appeal made her a global superstar. Watching this musical sequence (which is featured above), Monroe’s performance still feels fresh and vital — indicative of a star whose playful nature in this scene is almost self-aware. It’s as if Monroe knew she’d be remembered for this iconic sequence and so she really had some fun with it.

The film from which this momentous movie moment came, in which Monroe and Jane Russell play showgirls who set sail for Paris on an ocean liner with the goal of landing some eligible millionaires, is enchanting in its own right. Yet the scene featuring “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” propel it from merely a great movie into some magical and unforgettable, which is why we continue to talk about it to this day. Over the decades since the film’s original release in 1953, much hoopla has been made over how influential this sequence was. (Most notably Madonna’s riff on it in her memorable music video for “Material Girl,” a song that is considered a spiritual successor to the one featured here). But when it comes down to it, what most makes this movie moment great is Monroe’s scenery-chewing performance. It’s just one of many reasons that her work will continue to enthrall until the end of time.