She was born illegitimate on June 1, 1926, in the charity ward at Los Angeles General Hospital. Her mother, Gladys Baker
(nee Monroe) would call her Norma Jeane Mortenson but she would later use the name Baker too. The identity of her father
was uncertain. Gladys entered on Norma Jeane's birth certificate that the father was Edward Mortenson, a variation on her
ex husband Edward Mortensen's name, spelled with an 'e'. As time went on it is thought to have been a man who worked with
Gladys named Charles Stanley Gifford. Both men were long gone before Norma Jeane put in an appearance. She was a
beautiful infant, but unlike most children, she was placed into foster care when she was thirteen days old. She had a very
tough childhood, had little connection with her mother until a few years later when Gladys had saved up enough money to
mortgage a small house for them both to live. This would not last as Gladys could not cope with her mounting debts, and her
frail state of mind got her certified paranoid schizophrenic and she ended up institutionalized. Once again Norma Jeane, by
this time a very pretty child, ended up in various foster homes. Among the many things she would be faced with would be
sexual abuse and exploitation by the people who were supposedly looking after her. At 9 she was placed in the Los Angeles
Orphans Home by her guardian Grace Mckee, who had recently married "Doc" Goddard. Norma Jeane had a strong spirit
and made the most of what she had. One of the other kids remembered her as being a very generous person who would never
say no to you if you asked her for something. She lost herself in movies and would watch films with Jean Harlow, Greta
Garbo, Joan Crawford and her favourite, Clark Gable. Outside her window she could see RKO Studios and would cry as she
knew her mother had worked there. She would also lose herself in daydreams of what it must be like to work there & having
people know you and love you. In 1937 Norma Jeane was rescued by Gladys' best friend Grace McKee Goddard when she
took Norma Jeane out of the orphanage to live with her and Doc Goddard.

She grew into a popular teenager, the boys gave her the attention she had craved all her life. And the girls took note too. She
excelled at English and did well at sports. For the next 5 years Norma Jeane would have the security that had eluded her until
this time. She also lived with and bonded deeply with Grace's Aunt Ana Lower. Marilyn would later refer to Aunt Ana as the
first person she truly loved. By Christmas 1941 Grace and Doc Goddard decided to move to West Virginia the following year
without her. It was a difficult time as without Grace, Norma Jeane would have to move back to the orphanage. However,
Grace came up with the idea of Norma Jeane marrying the handsome boy next door, James Dougherty. In December 1941,
Grace asked Jim to escort Norma Jeane to a company Christmas dance. By March 1942 they were going steady and by May
they were engaged. In June, Norma Jeane Baker became Mrs James Dougherty, less than three weeks after she turned 16. As
Jim went overseas for the war effort, Norma Jeane did her bit by working in a plane parts factory spraying fuselages. It was
there that an US Army photographer named David Conover, taking photos of the working women back home for the Army,
discovered Norma Jeane. These would be the first professional photos ever taken of Norma Jeane, which almost
immediately led to her being signed to The Blue Book Model Agency. With a new career and a husband overseas, Norma
Jeane grew restless and requested a divorce from Dougherty with dreams of stardom in her head. By 1946, Norma Jeane had
made the cover of several national & international magazines and was one of the most popular models. By now she had
desires to act. She caught the attention of 20th Century Fox head of talent, Ben Lyon and signed a 6 month contract. He
changed her name to Marilyn after actress Marilyn Miller and she choose Monroe, her mother's maiden name.

Marilyn - it's a common enough name when you think about it. Most of us know someone called
that. But on it's own, it signifies one person, unmistakable and irreplaceable. Her surname hardly
matters - it's Marilyn that tells the story in one word, a story that everyone knows more than 40
years after her untimely death that has never been forgotten. Why perhaps because despite her
physical perfection she was so human in her search for love and security in an exploitive world.
Perhaps it was in her sexy but somehow safe, slightly submissive screen persona that seemed such
a direct mirror of her own life. Maybe it was the radiant smile and breathless comic banter that
gave her such appeal. Maybe the point was that, under the scintillating surface, painted to face the
world with an image of physical perfection, she was a blank canvas on which people could impose
their own picture of what they thought she was.
All photos are copyrighted by their respective owners & should not be used for commercial purposes.
The Early Years
Norma Jeane w/ Lester and Ida Bolender
Gladys & Norma Jeane
C. Stanley Gifford
Age 4
Circa 1933 - Age 7
Los Angeles Orphans Home
Age 11
Gladys & Grace
Home Norma Jeane shared w/ the Goddard's
Norma Jeane, Ana Lower
Happy & Confident 1945
Mr. & Mrs. James Dougherty 1944
Berniece, Gladys,
& Norma Jeane 1946
David Conover & the photos he took that started it all
Norma Jeane becomes a successful model
Marilyn Monroe is born
By
Fraser Penney