LIFE With Actresses on the Brink of Fame

Marilyn Monroe poses in 1947
J. R. Eyerman—TIME & LIFE Pictures/Getty Images
Marilyn Monroe poses in 1947. The next year, she'd get a six-month Columbia Pictures contract, followed by a Marx Brothers movie in 1949, and, eventually, near-mythic status as the quintessential Hollywood "sex goddess."

There’s nothing quite like charting the ascent of a major new Hollywood player, and as the premier pictorial weekly of its era, LIFE magazine was uniquely positioned to feature more than a few famous faces early in their careers, well before they became bona fide stars.

Here, offers a gallery of some of moviedom’s most celebrated (and gorgeous) young talents on the very brink of life-altering fame, from Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn to Kim Novak, Ann-Margret, Liz Taylor, Rita Moreno, Catherine Deneuve and other film legends.

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