Real name: Norma Jean Baker
Birthdate: June 1, 1926
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Monroe's maternal grandparents were Otis Elmer Monroe and Della Mae Hogan. Her mother Gladys Pearl Monroe was born in Porfirio Diaz, Mexico, now known as Piedras Negras, on May 27, 1902 where the family had gone, so Otis could work on the railroad. The family returned to California where Gladys's brother Otis was born in 1905. Their father, suffering from syphilis which had invaded his brain; he died in 1909 in Southern California State Hospital in San Bernardino County. Gladys married first to Jasper Baker May 1917 and had two children, Robert Kermit Baker (born January 24, 1918) and Berniece Baker (Miracle) (born July 30, 1919). They were both born in Los Angeles. After Gladys and her Kentucky-born husband divorced, the husband took the children and moved to Kentucky, according to Miracle's book My Sister Marilyn. Gladys moved there as well, to be near her children. After living there for a while, she returned to Los Angeles.
Many biographers, such as Donald H. Wolfe in The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, believe Norma Jeane's biological father was Charles Stanley Gifford, a salesman for RKO Pictures where Gladys worked as a film-cutter. Monroe's birth certificate lists Gladys's second husband, Martin Edward Mortenson, as the father. While Mortenson left Gladys before Norma Jeane's birth, some biographers think he may have been the father. In an interview with Lifetime, James Dougherty, Gladys's first husband, said Norma Jeane believed that Gifford was her father. Whoever the father was, he played no part in Monroe's life.
The next two years were filled with inconsequential roles in standard fare such as We're Not Married! and Love Nest. However, RKO executives used her to boost box office potential of the Fritz Lang production Clash by Night. After the film performed well, Fox employed a similar tactic, and she was cast as the ditzy receptionist with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in Howard Hawks's slapstick comedy Monkey Business. Critics no longer ignored her, and both films' success at the box office was partly attributed to Monroe's growing popularity.
After Some Like It Hot, Monroe shot Let's Make Love directed by George Cukor and co-starring Yves Montand. Monroe was forced to shoot the picture because of her obligations to Twentieth Century-Fox. While the film was not a commercial or critical success, it included one of Monroe's legendary musical numbers, Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy".
Before the shooting of Something's Got to Give resumed, Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home on the morning of August 5, 1962. She remains one of the 20th century's legendary public figures and archetypal Hollywood movie stars.
Monroe married James Dougherty on June 19, 1942. In The Secret Happiness of Marilyn Monroe and To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie, he claimed they were in love, but dreams of stardom lured her away. In 1953 he wrote a piece called "Marilyn Monroe Was My Wife" for Photoplay, in which he claimed that he left her. In the 2004 documentary Marilyn's Man, Dougherty made three new claims: he was her Svengali and invented the "Marilyn Monroe" persona, studio executives forced her to divorce him, and that he was her only true love.