You probably watched Blonde, new Netflix movie about Marilyn Monroe, then you saw that scene with the photo of Marilyn’s father in the picture frame and wondered, if it’s real right? Well, keep reading…
Beautiful, iconic and yet extremely vulnerable, Norma Jean Baker, who we know better as Marilyn Monroe, was a true star in her heyday and her legacy lives on even until now.
However, her outward confidence and showmanship was countered by her insecurities and amongst these was her rejection by many members of her family.
Her schizophrenic mother fostered her at an early age and constantly misled her as to who her real father was.
Thanks to new DNA evidence though, we now know that it was a man named Charles Stanley Gifford.
Gifford met Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Baker, when they both worked behind the scenes at RKO Pictures and he was, apparently, her supervisor.
Marilyn’s mother became pregnant while working for RKO and Gifford wanted nothing to do with the child. However, due to Marilyn’s need to feel accepted it is believed that she identified Gifford as her father and even tracked him down.
But he still rejected her, even after she had become famous.
Marilyn’s father is identified as Michael Edward Mortensen on her birth certificate and while he was indeed once married to Gladys Baker he was never thought to be her biological father.
Possibly due to her mental illness Gladys Baker once told her daughter that her father was a famous movie star, but later actually told her it was Charles Gifford, her ex coworker and even gave her a framed photograph of the man.
Gifford though wanted nothing to do with his child or with Gladys, paternity tests were very hard to do back then, and he quite possibly didn’t believe that she was even his child.
Gifford married and did in fact father two daughters with the wife that he later divorced, and after leaving RKO seems to have had a varied career, at one time owning and renting several cottage apartments and finally owning a dairy farm and taking control of Red Rock Dairy, a bakery and ice cream business.
He died in 1965 and according to Gifford’s surviving granddaughter, Marilyn tried many times to make contact with Gifford.
Now that we know how insecure and vulnerable Marilyn was it is not a stretch to try and think how it must have felt to be absolutely certain that she had identified her biological father only to be constantly rejected by him at every turn.
Even when she was a famous movie star he rebuffed her attempts at forming a relationship, allegedly advising her “I’m married and I have a family. I don’t have anything to say to you. Call my lawyer.”
Maybe one of the nicest things we can say about Charles Gifford is that he wasn’t a gold digger, but the constant rejections by him took its toll on Marilyn’s mental health.
According to friends of the star it broke her heart and almost certainly contributed to her depression, for which she received psychiatric help.
Gifford was born in 1898 in Rhode Island and his marriage to the mother of his two daughters ended due to alleged abuse including violence, intimidation and bodily harm, they divorced in 1925.
It was after the divorce that Gifford moved to Los Angeles where he started working in the film industry, and met Marilyn’s mother Gladys. The pair started dating and according to reports Gladys was “head over heels in love” with her coworker, but Gifford did not share those same feelings. Gladys became pregnant that same year and Marilyn was born in 1926.
Gifford did marry again to a woman named Mary-Belle but there were no children from this marriage. He owned a dairy farm in Hemet, California and it was here and at the Red Rock Dairy that Monroe made several attempts to establish a relationship with her father.
There are rumors that as a star she had her driver visit the dairy drive through to try and get her father to serve her but there is no confirmation of this. It is a fact though that Chares Gifford wanted nothing to do with the daughter that had become one of the most famous and revered actresses in the world.
Ironically it is alleged that when he was extremely ill in 1961, and Marilyn herself was sick, he attempted to reconcile only to be rebuffed by Marilyn this time.
Too little, too late for Charles, who had rejected his emotionally fragile daughter one too many times.