Quick facts :
Birth Date : June 1st, 1926 in Los Angeles.
Birth Name : Norma Jeane Mortenson.
Known as : Norma Jeane Baker.
Mother : Gladys Baker (previously Mortenson).
Father : unknown to Marilyn. Gladys pretended it was Stan Gifford. He refused to speak to Marilyn when she tried to meet him.
Siblings (born from Gladys' marriage to Jasper Baker) : Jackie and Berneice. Jasper took the children away from Gladys when Berneice was still a baby.
When Marilyn was born, Gladys declared she was her third child but that the other two were dead. Jackie died in 1933 at the age of 15, after Jasper refused to have him cured at the hospital. Norma Jeane and Berneice first heard of eachother when they were respectivly 12 and 19 years old.
Childhood : because of her mental instability, Gladys had to entrust her daughter to foster homes. Norma Jeane consequently grew up in various foster homes (she spent the first 7 years of her life with the Bolenders). In 1934, after spending a few months with her mother, who was finally confined into a mental institution because of her mental illness (schizophreny), she moved in with Grace McKee (one of Gladys' good friends). In 1935, as Grace was to marry, she had to leave Norma Jeane to the orphanage, from September 1935 to June 1937, when she finally went back to live with Grace's family, the Goddards. Grace kept telling her she would become a beautiful woman and a wonderful actress, which made Norma Jeane hope for a better future. Unfortunately, Grace's husband was transferred to the East Coast in 1942. Because of the expenses related to a 16 years old teenager they couldn't afford, the couple had to take a decision for Norma Jeane : either put her back to the orphanage or marry her to someone.
On June 19, 1942 she finally wed her 21-year-old neighbor James E. Dougherty, whom she had been dating for six months.
From Norma Jeane to Marilyn : Jimmy joined the Merchant Marines and was sent to the South Pacific in 1944 : Norma Jeane decided to join the assembly line at the Radio Plane Munitions factory.During the 1944 fall, she met David Coroner, a photographer taking pictures of women who were contributing to the war effort. He immediatly saw Norma Jeane's potential and sent her to the Blue Book Agency in 1945. In November of that same year, Andre De Dienes met her and took her first pictures on the beach.
In 1946, because of pressures, Norma Jeane started to change things in her life : first, she dyed her hair to blonde shades. Second, she asked for a divorce on May 14th 1946. That same year, she signed her first contract with the Fox Studios, and was paid 75$ a week. Finally, on August 24th 1946, Norma Jeane Dougherty became Marilyn Monroe.
Fame : things started to work out for Marilyn, small parts slowly became first parts in her movies. When she met Joe DiMaggio, they became the most popular couple of the United States. The two American idols got married on January 14th of 1954 in San Francisco and divorced nine months later, for "career conflicts". The fact was Joe DiMaggio was very protective of his wife and hated seeing her treated as a sexual object by the public.
At the end of 1954, the bad critics for "There's no Business like Show Business" helped her take the decision to leave L.A. for New York in secret, with Milton Greene's help. A few weeks later, on January 1, 1955, they both publicly announced the creation of the Marilyn Monroe Productions, which was a way for Marilyn to choose her movies, parts, directors, etc... and get more control on her career. At the same time, as a part of her efforts to become what she called a "real actress", she joined Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio and moved all her fellow students singing "I'll get by".
By the same time, she was also seeing playwright Arthur Miller who was waiting for his divorce to marry her. They finally married on June 29th 1956.
Children : from what we know, Marilyn had two miscarriages during her common life with Arthur Miller, but never had children. It was probably the hardest thing she had to deal with, since she wanted and needed children so badly. Rumours are that in her last days, she was looking for a child to adopt in Mexico.
Death : Marilyn died mysteriously in her bedroom on August 5th, 1962. The coroner declared the probable cause of death was suicide by poisoning but many elements tend to leed to other suggestions, more likely to have happened : accident or even maybe murder. Will we ever know the truth ?
Related pics : [Norma Jeane & Gladys on the beach] [Norma Jeane aged 5] [Norma Jeane aged 8] [Norma Jeane & kids on the beach] [wedding invitation] [Norma Jeane & Jimmy 1, 2, and 3]
Biography © Mélanie Claisse, part of the information from Don Wolfe's "The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe" and www.marilynmonroe.com.