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This beautiful angel: Marilyn Monroe came to the world on June 1, 1926 as Norma Jeane. She was born in Los Angeles, California to Gladys Pearl Baker. Gladys Pearl Baker belonged to a poor mid-western family who had migrated to California, Gladys is said to be her own woman. It is believed that she chose her Partner John Newton baker, approx. 10 years older to her, because she was influenced with his big dreams. However very soon reality hit her hard. After her father’s death and her mother’s subsequent emotional inconstancy, Gladys had no precedent for domestic stability, nor apparently, did she herself desire a conventional home life. After the birth of two children she decided to give up on marriage. She filed divorce on June 20,1921 accusing Baker of “Extreme cruelty by abusing her and calling her vile names and using profane language at and in her presence, by striking and kicking her “.

Free from family traps and responsibilities she moved on to Hollywood, where she took a job in movie business. Very soon she began to share apartment with Grace, a divorced woman without inhibitions, free to jump from one relationship to other. With her company Gladys became a typical flapper of the roaring twenties. She lighted her brown hair to an almost defiant cherry red. Soon she met Martin Edward Mortensen, a young guy of 27 who was looking forward to start a family. Gladys liked his religious inclinations and married him on October 11, 1924.

This respectable but dull life became difficult for Gladys to endure and just in four months of marriage she left her husband and moved back with Grace. In late 1925, 10 months after leaving Mortensen, Gladys learned that she was pregnant. Mortensen is said to have died in a motorcycle accident. During this time Gladys was turned down even by her mother. There is no clear indication of who was the father of the child. It could have been any of her boyfriend in 1925 Harold Rooney (a co-worker), Charles Stanley Gifford (a foreman) or even Raymond Guthrie (a film developer). Anyway, the child was born, and she was named Norma Jeane Mortenson.

Within two weeks of the child’s birth, Gladys gave Norma Jeane over to a foster family sixteen miles away. The reasons behind this could be many. Many people say that Norma had to move from one foster home to other but over the tenure of 10 years of staying in a foster home she had spend 6 long years with the Bolenders.It is believed that Bolenders were very religious in their conduct and Norma was also kept within moral limits. She recalls having a peculiar type of dream:

I dreamed that I was standing up in church without any clothes on, and all the people there were lying at my feet on the floor of the church, and I walked naked, with a sense of freedom, over their prostate forms, being careful not to step on anyone.

Norma Jeane

During weekends Gladys use to take her to movies and spent some time with her. Norma however knew that her mother was never happy with her arrival to the world. Just few years later Gladys was institutionalized and diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Norma after 10 years of foster home was taken under the care of her mother’s roommate Grace. Grace being a free bird wanted to get rid of her. She therefore arranged to get her married off. She set her up with James Dougherty, a friend’s son. Norma seemed to enjoy his company and soon after couple of months Norma Jeane was married.

James became her first real place of security. She hated to see him go to work. Few months after their married life James got a job to be stationed overseas. There is a mention that Norma was so much in Love that she wanted him to make her pregnant so that she would have someone like him with her while he was away. Although being flattered by such behavior of his wife James very well knew that this was not the right time. Because of the world war II situation, he wasn’t sure of the conditions of work and didn’t wanted Norma to be alone in her misery while there was no surety of his coming back.

After James left for the job, Norma took up her first regular job at the local radio plane factory. It was here that she was first discovered by photographer David Conover who was on the site doing a piece on the female contribution of the war. He introduced her to a modelling agency, and she got her first contract in the industry. She was very quick to catch up and change herself. She changed her hair color to blonde and became agency’s most successful model to appear on covers of several magazines.

It is said that when her husband James saw the magazine overseas in Buenos Aires, he was shocked. None of his comrades believed that he was her husband. After modelling success, she moved to the film industry. Her first film company was 20th Century Fox. Her name Marilyn was the suggestion of a talent scout Ben Lyon. She took Monroe from her mother’s maiden name. This is how Marilyn Monroe was born.

The story will be continued in the next blog. The references are from Books: Marilyn Monroe: A life from beginning to end and Marilyn Monroe: the autobiography. For detailed explanations follow through the books. Happy Reading!!!


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