Who were Marilyn Monroe’s parents?

MARILYN Monroe found fame as a model and actress.

Despite the star’s life being in the spotlight, her father’s identity remained a secret, until now.

Marilyn was born Norma Jeane


Marilyn was born Norma JeaneCredit: Getty

Who were Marilyn Monroe’s parents?

Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson, grew up with her mom Gladys and had no father figure in her life.

She later changed her surname to Baker.

The film star was placed into foster care in California at just two weeks old, although her loving mother regularly visited her.

Marilyn lived periodically with her mom until she was ten, but Gladys struggled with her mental health.

Gladys Baker

Gladys Baker and a young Marilyn Monroe


Gladys Baker and a young Marilyn MonroeCredit: Getty

Gladys Baker was working at a Hollywood film-developing company when she met the man who Marilyn later claimed to be her father.

Although they were never married, they had an affair and Gladys fell pregnant at age 26, giving birth to Marilyn on June 1, 1926.

The Mexico-born mum, whose maiden name was Monroe, reportedly never reached out to Marilyn’s father, nor did she ask for money from him to support them.

It is unclear how much the blonde bombshell knew about her dad, as Gladys never openly revealed his identity.

However, Marilyn said her mother had shown her a photo of a man in a golden frame and would say, “this is your father”.

Gladys went on to marry three times and listed her second husband, Martin Edward Mortensen, as Monroe’s father on her birth certificate.

The couple divorced in 1928 after only four years of marriage, and Gladys solely raised Marilyn until she was seven years old.

But the mum’s mental health began to deteriorate and she was later placed in a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Marilyn was left to bounce between foster homes and an orphanage throughout her younger years.

The star herself was diagnosed with bipolar later on in life and was admitted to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in New York.

Gladys had two other children with her first husband John Newton Baker.

Robert, born in 1917, and Berniece, born in 1919, were kidnapped by their father after Gladys filed for divorce and sole custody in 1923.

Marilyn did not meet her half-sister Berniece until she was in her teens.

Her half-brother Robert, known as Jackie, died in 1933 aged 14.

Gladys married a third time in 1949 to John Stewart Eley, but he died just three years later.

After her husband’s death she was admitted to Rockhaven Sanitarium and was sent money by her actress daughter.

In later life she moved in with her daughter Berniece and died on March 11, 1984.

Charles Stanley Gifford 

Charles Stanley Gifford was confirmed to be Marilyn's father in a documentary


Charles Stanley Gifford was confirmed to be Marilyn’s father in a documentary

Marilyn grew up with an absent father, who reportedly disappeared shortly before she was born.

She later claimed her father was Charles Stanley Gifford, although while she was alive, she wasn’t able to prove it.

He vehemently denied the film icon’s claims until the day he died, although she insisted she had attempted to contact him on several occasions.

According to Charles Casillo’s book, Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life Of A Public Icon, she once tracked Charles down to confront him.

But he allegedly brushed her off, telling her: “I’m married, and I have a family. I don’t have anything to say to you. Call my lawyer.”

Natasha Lytess, an acting coach and pal, said of the meeting: “It did her no good. It broke her heart.”

The Daily Mail reported that Marilyn’s friend Sidney Skolsky said she visited Charles for a second time in 1950.

When Marilyn returned to the car where Skolsky was waiting, she called her father a “son of a b****”.

Marilyn attempted to contact Gifford several more times in person and by phone but each time he told her to leave him alone.

Although Gifford claimed he had no relation to Marilyn, a documentary titled, Marilyn, Her Final Secret, reveals the truth about who her father was.

Was Charles Stanley Gifford Marilyn Monroe’s father?

Sixty years on from Marilyn’s death, a documentary got to the bottom of the identity of her father.

Marilyn, Her Final Secret – released in June 2022 – saw experts analyse forensic evidence to definitively prove Charles’ paternity.

A team used a lock of Marilyn’s legendary hair, which was still kept at the coroner’s office after her death, to prove that he was her father.

However, finding DNA from her hair proved difficult because Monroe, who was a natural brunette, had bleached her hair so often that it had removed the majority of her DNA.

Forensic scientists were eventually able to extract enough DNA to test it against a cheek swab from one of Charles’ great-grandchildren.

Although he had long since passed away, the forensic team located Gifford’s 75-year-old granddaughter, Francine Gifford Deir.

It came back as a match – proving once and for all that Monroe’s claims were true.

The director and producer of the documentary, Francois Pomès, told Variety: “The thing that touched me the most was seeing the reaction of Gifford’s family who were overwhelmed by this irrefutable evidence.”

Speculation surrounding her father has also been revived following Netflix movie, Blonde, which offers viewers a fictionalized retelling of the star’s life.

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The biopic is based on the 2000 novel by Joyce Carol Oates, and the Motion Picture Association has given it an NC-17 rating due to its graphic sexual nature.

Andrew Dominik, who directed the film, told Screen Daily in May 2010 that Monroe “embodies all the injustices visited upon the feminine, a sister, a Cinderella, consigned to live among the ashes”.

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