Madhubala (born Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehlavi; 14 February 1933 – 23 February 1969) was an Indian actress and producer who worked in Hindi films. One of the most popular and the highest-paid actress during the 1950s, she appeared in 73 Bollywood films in a career spanning over two decades. In the media, she is referred to as one of the most beautiful, greatest and influential personalities of Indian cinema. Madhubala began her career playing juvenile roles in the early 1940s, first of which was in Basant (1942). At the age of 14, she switched to lead roles with 1947 drama film Neel Kamal. Her rise to prominence came after starring in the thriller Mahal (1949), following which she became one of the most bankable Bollywood stars of the subsequent decade. In 1952, Madhubala received offers from Hollywood but her father refused. The same year, she appeared in the Theatre Arts Magazine where, in its August 1952 issue, she was featured in an article with a full page photograph under the title: "The Biggest Star in the World – and she's not in Beverly Hills". Apart from appearing in several commercially successful films, Madhubala also went on to earn critical praise for her portrayal of a social worker in Amar (1954), a modern miss in Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955), a cabaret dancer in Howrah Bridge (1958) and two sisters with constrasting personalities in Kal Hamara Hai (1959). Her highest-grossing releases came with the comedy Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), the romantic musical Barsaat Ki Raat and the magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam (both in 1960). Her performance in Mughal-e-Azam as the ill-fated courtesan Anarkali was widely acclaimed by critics, who labelled it as the finest given by her; and earned her her only nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Actress. In the early 1960s, Madhubala continued starring in commercial successes such as Jhumroo (1961), Passport (1961) and Half Ticket (1962), but her work in this decade was limited to five releases only. Her last completed film was the posthumously released Jwala (1971). Madhubala's private life received much attention. She was known for keeping a low public profile, was not seen at parties and film premiers and rarely gave interviews. She had a long relationship with actor Dilip Kumar, but chose to marry her frequent co-star Kishore Kumar in 1960. Madhubala's life and career was cut short when she died in 1969 from a prolonged illness at the age of 36. Her beauty and comparison with Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe eventually earned her the titles "The Venus of Indian Cinema" and "Marilyn Monroe of Bollywood".

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