Marilyn Monroe’s mother Gladys Pearl Baker: What happened to her?

1954: American film star Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962). (Photo by Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1954: American film star Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962). (Photo by Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) /

Netflix’s Blonde, a fictionalized biopic of famed actress Marilyn Monroe, is now streaming. With so much buzz around the new movie, people have begun searching for everything there is to know about the Hollywood legend. A question that keeps surfacing is regarding Marilyn Monroe’s mother, Gladys Pearl Baker. People are wanting to know who she was and what happened to her. Fortunately, we’ve done our research and can provide you with this information.

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles, California. She later became an actress under the stage name Marilyn Monroe. She was given the name “Marilyn” by studio executive Ben Lyon and “Monroe” was her mother’s maiden name.

It didn’t take long for Marilyn Monroe to become one of the most popular sex symbols of the ’50s and early ’60s and one of Hollywood’s top-billed actresses. But sadly, the world didn’t get to see all that Monroe could do because she died at the age of 36 from a barbiturate overdose in 1962.

So, where was Gladys Pearl Baker during Monroe’s rise to fame? What about after Monroe’s death? Here’s what happened to Gladys Pearl Baker.

Marilyn Monroe’s mother: Who was Gladys Pearl Baker?

Gladys Pearl Baker was from a poor Midwestern family who had migrated to California. When Baker was 15 years old, she married an abusive man named Jasper Newton Baker, who was nine years older than her. They had two children together, Robert Kermitt Baker and Berniece Baker Miracle. Due to constant abuse, Baker divorced Jasper in 1921 and Jasper ended up kidnapping the kids and taking them to Kentucky.

Then, in 1924, Baker got remarried to a Norwegian immigrant named Martin Edward Mortensen. They divorced a couple of years later after Baker met Charles Stanley Gifford, her work superior, and had an affair. Through this affair, Baker gave birth to Marilyn Monroe. However, Baker listed Mortensen as Monroe’s father on her birth certificate.

At one point in Monroe’s life, Baker placed her with evangelical Christian foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender. Then, in 1933, Baker bought a house and moved Monroe in with her. But just a year later, Baker was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and committed to Metropolitan State Hospital, making Monroe a ward of the court. A friend of Baker’s became Monroe’s guardian.

After being discharged from the hospital, Baker began working at a nursing home and as a housekeeper. By this time, Monroe had become an actress and would send money to Baker. But in 1953, Baker was admitted to a sanatorium and was looked after by Monroe’s business manager until Monroe’s death. After Monroe died in 1962, Baker received a trust fund of $100,000 from her daughter. She was to receive $5,000 a year.

Baker made multiple attempts to escape the sanatorium and was later transferred to a psychiatric hospital. She stayed at the hospital until 1967, when she was released and went to live with her daughter Berniece.

What happened to Gladys Pearl Baker?

After being under the care of Berniece and staying with her for a while, Baker was moved to a retirement home in Gainesville, Florida, not too far from her daughter’s house. She remained there until her death in March 1984. According to The Cinemaholic, Baker died at the age of 81 from heart failure.

Make sure to check out Blonde starring Ana de Armas, streaming now only on Netflix.

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