Monday, June 1, 2009

She would have turned 83 today!

Marilyn was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California, to Gladys Baker. As the identity of her father is undetermined, she was later baptized Norma Jeane Baker. Gladys had been a film cutter at RKO studios, but psychological problems prevented her from keeping the job and she was eventually committed to a mental institution.
Norma Jeane spent most of her childhood in foster homes and orphanages until 1937, when she moved in with family friend Grace McKee Goddard. Unfortunately, when Grace's husband was transferred to the East Coast in 1942, the couple couldn't afford to take 16-year-old Norma Jeane with them. Norma Jeane had two options: return to the orphanage or get married.
On June 19, 1942 she wed her 21-year-old neighbor Jimmy Dougherty, whom she had been dating for six months. "She was a sweet, generous and religious girl," Jimmy said. "She liked to be cuddled." By all accounts Norma Jeane loved Jimmy, and they were happy together until he joined the Merchant Marines and was sent to the South Pacific in 1944.
After Jimmy left, Norma Jeane took a job on the assembly line at the Radio Plane Munitions factory in Burbank, California. Several months later, photographer David Conover saw her while taking pictures of women contributing to the war effort for Yank magazine. He couldn't believe his luck. She was a "photographer's dream." Conover used her for the shoot and then began sending modeling jobs her way.
The camera loved Norma Jeane, and within two years she was a reputable model with many popular magazine covers to her credit. She began studying the work of legendary actresses Jean Harlow and Lana Turner, and enrolled in drama classes with dreams of stardom. However, Jimmy's return in 1946 meant Norma Jeane had to make another choice- this time between her marriage and her career. Norma Jeane divorced Jimmy in June of 1946, and signed her first studio contract with Twentieth Century Fox on August 26, 1946. She earned $125 a week.
Soon after, Norma Jeane dyed her hair blonde and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe (borrowing her grandmother's last name). The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Also this is a rather interesting article on accompanied by unpublished photos of Marilyn Monroe.


  1. She was so amazing. I used to have Norma Jeane and Marilyn posters all over my walls in high school. The pics YOU chose are wonderful... Happy Birthday Marilyn!!!!

  2. whoops:) what i was going to say was - her father is believed to be norwegian. he was from a little fishing town on the west coast called haugesund. they even have a statue of marilyn there!

  3. Alli I didnt know that, I totally see it though thank you!

    Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein agreed!

  4. Thank you for posting the story of Marilyn- Although I adore her, I never really knew about her childhood. :0) Tragic but we all still love her.

  5. what a great history lesson, thanks!

  6. no problem thanks for stopping by :)

  7. Actually, when she started off with Twentieth, she made $500 a week (With, I believe, half of her salary going to her acting coach, Natasha Lytess). And her marriage with Jim Dougherty wasn't the best. Of course, not exactly raginging fights (at least, not until she had the definite choice between her career and marriage) and abuse, but she was very timid and naive. She actually had a fear of sex and read countless books on it before she got brave. He claimed later that their marriage was happy, but it was not. And her last name came moreso from Gladys's maiden name, although it was also her grandmother's last name.


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