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Blonde, the newest Marilyn Monroe movie featuring Ana de Armas just dropped, and people have a *lot* of questions about the world-famous movie star, including who her biological father was and if they ever met.
The movie, which follows a fictional retelling of her life through Joyce Carol Oates' 1999 novel of the same name, focuses heavily on Marilyn’s rise to fame and her relationships with men (both real and fictional). But plenty of people want to know more about her early life, and specifically, about her father.
Marilyn’s mom, Gladys, reportedly told her that her dad was a famous movie star, and for years, no one knew the true story. But that didn't stop fans and researchers from trying to guess his true identity. The general consensus usually settled on one person, a man named Charles Stanley Gifford, but this theory wasn't proven until 2022.
Okay, so who is Marilyn Monroe’s father, Charles Stanley Gifford, and did the two ever meet? Here’s what you need to know.
Who were Marilyn’s parents?
Marilyn, whose real name was Norma Jeane, was born to 26-year-old Gladys Baker on June 1, 1926, according to Biography. Marilyn was put into foster care when she was just two weeks old, but Gladys visited her over the years. She also tried to gain full-time custody of her daughter, but was diagnosed with schizophrenia and struggled with symptoms of the mental disorder, per Biography.
For a long time, no one knew who Marilyn’s father was, but the theories abounded.
What did Gladys tell Marilyn about her father?
At one point, Gladys told Marilyn that her father was one of her co-workers (and her superior) at RKO Studios—a man named Charles Stanley Gifford, Biography says. Gladys got pregnant while working for Charles.
It is reported that Gladys showed Marilyn a framed photo of a man and told her he was her father, according to The Sun.
Gladys' one-time husband, Martin Edward Mortensen, is listed as Marilyn's father on her birth certificate, but Mortensen’s separation timeline with Gladys suggested he likely didn't father the child, according to The Cinemaholic and Marca.
In 2022, a scientists performed a DNA test on a strand of Marilyn’s hair and a cheek swab from one of Charles’ great-grandchildren, which confirmed that Charles was Marilyn's father, Marca says.
Who was Charles Stanley Gifford?
Charles Stanley Gifford was born in 1898, in Newport, Rhode Island, per Ancestry.com. He died in California in 1965.
Aside from Marilyn, Charles fathered two other children with his wife, whom he married in 1919 and later divorced, per Wikitree. He worked as a supervisor at RKO Studios, and Marilyn wrote in her own book that he lived in the same apartment building as they did, according to Vanity Fair.
Did Marilyn ever meet her father?
It’s not totally clear what Marilyn knew about her father, but she did manage to track Charles Stanley Gifford down at one point, according to the Charles Casillo book, Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon.
The book details how Marilyn sought out Charles Stanley Gifford and told him who she was, only for him to respond: “I’m married, and I have a family. I don’t have anything to say to you. Call my lawyer," per Showbiz CheatSheet.
Charles’s granddaughter, Francine Gifford Deir, claims that Marilyn tried to meet up with her father. "In the 1950s, when she was already famous, Marilyn went to see my grandfather in Hemet, California, but he refused to see her,” she said, per Distractify.
The Daily Mail also reported that several of Marilyn's friends recalled the star's numerous attempts to connect with Gifford, suggesting that she even spoke with him in person at one point in 1950 (she would have been around 24 years old at the time). But each attempted visit, she left disappointed, and over the years, Marilyn told different stories about whether she had or hadn't ever met her father in person.
Marilyn’s friend reflected on the effect Gifford’s rejection had on Marilyn, saying that “it did her no good. It broke her heart,” The Sun reported.
Gifford died three years after Marilyn passed away, according to The Cinemaholic.
Marilyn had several half-siblings.
According to Biography, Marilyn had two half-siblings from her mom, Jackie and Berniece, who lived with Gladys’ ex-husband. (Jackie died of kidney disease at age 12, Biography reports.) Charles also had two children, according to Ancestry.com.
As a result, Marilyn has at least one living niece, and other living family members through her father's other children.
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