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When celebrity Marilyn Monroe died of an overdose in 1962, she left a $5,000-a-year belief to assist her mom, Gladys Baker, who would outlive her youngest daughter by 22 years.
It’s doubtless that the monetary bequest was probably the most safety Gladys had ever identified. “Marilyn was all the time afraid that she was going to genetically inherit her mom’s insanity,” J. Randy Taraborrelli, creator of The Secret Lifetime of Marilyn Monroe, tells Nearer solely. “She and Gladys had been each terribly difficult girls.”
Biographers have been sorting by the wreckage of Marilyn’s meteoric rise and sudden fall for greater than 60 years, however the position that her mom Gladys’ backstory performed in her life is commonly ignored. “To a level, [mental illness] was inherited, however I additionally suppose it was triggered by her horrible upbringing,” says Taraborrelli. “I don’t suppose one is unique to the opposite.”
It’s troublesome in charge Gladys for being a nasty dad or mum as a result of she by no means had the instance of a superb one. Born in 1902 to a few with an unstable relationship on account of her father’s alcoholism and psychological sickness, Gladys didn’t stand an opportunity.
After her father’s demise in 1909, her mom ping-ponged from one dangerous relationship to the following. Gladys married Jasper Baker, a person her mom labored for, at age 14. She bore two kids earlier than submitting for divorce at age 21.
“It was a horrible marriage. He was horribly abusive,” says Taraborrelli. Though the court docket awarded Gladys custody of son Jackie and daughter Berniece, Baker kidnapped them and moved to his native Kentucky so his mom might elevate the youngsters.
“I’ve all the time thought the kidnapping of her kids triggered Gladys’ bipolar and different psychological points,” says Taraborrelli. “She had so many troubles in her life as a result of her kids had been stolen from her.”
After the lack of Jackie and Berniece, Gladys turned a heavy drinker given to extreme temper swings and matches of paranoia.
A New Life
By the1920s, Gladys had discovered work in Hollywood as a movie unfavorable cutter. She wed Martin Edward Mortensen, a meter reader for a gasoline firm, however it wouldn’t final.
When daughter Norma Jean was born in 1926, Mortensen’s identify was on the beginning certificates, however the youngster by no means had a relationship with him. In 2022, DNA testing proved that Norma Jean’s father was Charles Stanley Gifford, Gladys’ boss at RKO Footage.
Gladys, in the meantime, was stricken with postpartum despair so extreme she thought-about killing herself and her toddler daughter.
“Norma Jean went from foster residence to foster residence,” says Taraborrelli. “The kid stored being shifted round till she married at 16 to get out of the system.”
When Norma Jean turned film star Marilyn Monroe, the studio publicists tried to cover her messy household historical past by claiming she was an orphan, however Marilyn all the time maintained a relationship together with her mom. “Gladys was out and in of Marilyn’s life for years,” says Taraborrelli, who notes that Marilyn paid for her mom’s hospital stays and gave her cash to dwell on.
“After Gladys was launched from an establishment, she got here to dwell with Marilyn — and that is when Marilyn was a significant star. Gladys was all the time a fixture in her daughter’s life, for higher, and sometimes for worse.”