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Inside Marilyn Monroe's Troubled Mom's Attempt To Kidnap Her & Why Their Relationship Was So Strained

Photo: Getty / Netflix
Marilyn Monroe, Ana De Armas

Netflix's newly released film, “Blonde,” has been described, by its director as a "movie for all the unloved children of the world."

The movie is based on the 1999 fictional novel by Joyce Carol Oates’ with the same title detailing the life of Monroe and begins with the Hollywood icon's childhood. 

Monroe is well-known to have had a troubled upbringing, including several instances of neglect and mistreatment at the hands of her mother.

Many wonder where Monroe’s parents were and if they were an integral part of her life. Not much is known about the actress’ biological father, except that his name was Charles Stanley Gifford who never met his daughter in person. 

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As for Monroe’s biological mother, it was revealed that she was a troubled woman who suffered from various hardships including abusive relationships and mental illness, which prompted her to place Monroe into foster care to begin with. 

Who was Marilyn Monroe's mother?

Monroe's mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe, was born in Mexico in 1902 before moving to Los Angeles with her family soon after.

According to author J. Randy Taraborrelli in "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe," Baker was raised in a poverty-stricken family and married a man named John Newton Baker when she was only 15, and he was 24. 

Together, they had two children, Robert Kermitt Baker, and Berniece Baker Miracle. However, after suffering abuse at the hands of her husband, Baker divorced him in 1921. 

He kidnapped both of their children and moved to Kentucky. 

Baker remarried in 1924 to a Norwegian immigrant named Martin Edward Mortensen. During their marriage, Baker met Gifford while working at RKO studios.

The two engaged in an affair that resulted in Bakar giving birth to a daughter, Norma Jean, on June 1, 1926. 

Marilyn Monroe's mother placed her in foster care as a baby. 

Baker and Mortenson divorced in 1928, however, Mortensen’s name was listed as Monroe’s father on the birth certificate.

When Monroe, who was named Norma Jean Mortensen when she was born, was only two weeks old she was placed in the care of evangelical Christian foster parents, Albert and Ida Bolender by Baker. 

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Baker struggled with mental illness at the time and could not adequately raise her child. 

Gladys Baker tried to kidnap Monroe from her foster parents. 

Baker was in and out of Monroe’s life while she was in foster care. She would visit her daughter as often as she could and was occasionally even granted sleepovers with her. 

However, when Monroe was three years old, Baker attempted to kidnap her from her foster parents by sneaking her daughter out of the home in a duffel bag. 

Her attempt was unsuccessful. 

Monroe was briefly placed back into Baker’s care when she was seven years old. 

Although in 1934, she was put back into the foster system after Baker suffered a psychotic breakdown and was institutionalized. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. 

She rotated between foster homes, raised by 12 different foster families, and even an orphanage at one point where she was subjected to sexual and emotional abuse.

She was taken in by a family friend, Grace McKee Goddard, who she called "Aunt Grace," when she was 11. 

After being discharged from a mental hospital, Baker worked as a housekeeper and at a nursing home before being admitted to a sanatorium in 1953. 

She was released in 1967 and moved in with her daughter, Berneice. She would later reside in a retirement home in Gainesville, Florida before her death in 1984. 

Monroe sent her mother money even though the two did not speak.

Although Monroe had claimed she never knew her mother throughout her career, she would send money to Baker and was looked after by Monroe’s business manager. 

After Monroe died in 1962, Baker received a trust fund of $100,000 from her late daughter. 

During her time at the sanitarium, Baker was unaware that Monroe had passed away and appeared confused by who Monroe even was. 

Baker died on March 11, 1984.

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.   

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