Marilyn Monroe - Actress, Model and Singer Baker family photo
Michelle Cassidy
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Marilyn Monroe - Actress, Model and Singer

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson and baptized Norma Jeane Baker. She was born on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California to Gladys Pearl Baker. Her father is listed as Martin Edward Mortensen on her birth certificate. She was soon placed into foster care with Albert and Idea Bolenderuntil age 7 because her mother was mentally and financially unstable. She was then declared ward of state with Grace McKee as legal guardian. When McKee married, Monroe was sent to the Los Angeles Orphan Home, succeeded by numerous foster homes. Monroe’s birth mother refused to sign adoption papers to the families interested in adopting her. By Age 12, she was sent to live with a her great-aunt Olive Brunings and then Ana Lower. Four years later in 1942, she moved back to McKee (now Grace Goddard) and her spouse Doc Goddard’s house. This lasted only a few months before she was abandoned by McKee and married off to Monroe’s current high school boyfriend, James Dougherty, to avoid returning to orphanage or foster care. They were married from 1942-1946. She never graduated from high school.

During her husband’s service in the Merchant Marine, Monroe worked in the Radioplane Munitions Factory inspecting parachutes and spraying airplane parts with fire retardant. It was then that she was encouraged by David Conover of the US Army Air Forces’ 1st Motion Picture Unit, to apply to The Blue Book Modeling Agency. When told the agency was looking for lighter hair models, she bleached her hair. As one of the most successful agency models, her career attracted the attention of 20th Century Fox.

She chose her mother’s maiden name Monroe for her stage surname and Marilyn at the behest of the 20th Century Fox executive.

Monroe made her breakthrough performance on the silver screen in 1948. It wasn’t until 1953 that she began to star in lead roles like Gentleman Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire. The actress, model, singer and film producer starred in 33 films and appeared on 44 soundtracks. Other notable works include Some Like it Hot, Niagara and The Seven Year Itch.

On February 23rd, 1956, she obtained order from the City Court of the State of New York to legally change her name from Norma Jeane Mortenson to Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe dated New York Yankees baseball player Joe DiMaggio and later married in San Francisco on January 14, 1954. This marriage lasted 274 days. Monroe moved on to her third husband, Arthur Miller on June 29, 1956. They later divorced in 1961.

She died on August 5, 1962 at the age of 36 from a barbiturate overdose.
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