19-year-old Norma Jean Dougherty at work at the Radioplane munitions factory in Burbank, California during World War II.

Marilyn Monroe and
YANK - The Army Weekly

 There is a connection between Marilyn Monroe and YANK - The Army Weekly although she never appeared on the cover and it is doubtful that she even appeared in the World War II Army weekly newspaper at all.  So what is the connection?

 In the summer of 1945 Private David Conover, a professional photographer working for the U.S. Army Air Corps First Motion Picture Unit, was sent to the Radioplane Munitions Factory in Burbank, California to shoot morale-boosting photographs of employees doing their part to help the war effort.  His photos were intended for use in a future edition of YANK.  There he met and photographed Norma Jean Dougherty.  He described the circumstances of their first meeting:

 "I moved down the assembly line, taking shots of the most attractive employees. None was especially out of the ordinary. I came to a pretty girl putting on propellers and raised the camera to my eye. She had curly ash blond hair and her face was smudged with dirt. I snapped her picture and walked on. Then I stopped, stunned. She was beautiful. Half child, half woman, her eyes held something that touched and intrigued me."

 Norma Jean worked at the munitions factory while her husband James Dougherty was away working as a Merchant Marine seaman.  They had wed in Los Angeles in June 1942 and she went to work when he was sent overseas in 1944.  An interesting fact, as the "Radioplane" name implies, she worked building drones for the Army Air Corps.  Note the small propeller size in the photograph above.  Also of note, Conover's commanding officer: Capt. Ronald Reagan.

 Conover learned of Norma Jean's desire to become an actress and suggested she would first need to become a model.  Over the next two weeks Conover photographed the girl he believed had "a luminous quality in her face, a fragility combined with astonishing vibrancy."
Another of David Conover's photos of Norma Jean Dougherty, who would later become famous as Marilyn Monroe.
 He coached her on how to pose and "address" the camera.

 Eventually Conover's work for the Army took him to the Philippines and the two lost touch.  Separation during the war would eventually lead to divorce for Norma Jean and James Dougherty in 1946.

 None of the photographs taken that day would be used in YANK.
David Conover's book about
"discovering" Marilyn Monroe
 Norma Jean however would begin a successful modeling career as a pinup girl.  Modeling eventually led to a screen test and starter contract with 20th Century-Fox in August of 1946.

 The new actress would need a new name.  Norma Jean reminded a movie executive of Marilyn Miller, a Broadway actress.  Her mother's maiden name and a new hair color completed the new identity and Norma Jean became Marilyn Monroe.

 The model turned actress and the photographer were later reunited in 1953 on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Marilyn would credit David Conover as having "discovered" her and he would go on to write a book about it titled Finding Marilyn.

Information for this page came from various internet sources including Wikipedia and the Marilyn "Rosie" Monroe section at Rosie the Riveter