Marilyn Monroe
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Meet Marilyn Monroe’s mom, a complicated woman born in Mexico

While Gladys Pearl Baker lived most of her life in the United States, she was born in Mexico.

Marilyn Monroe would have celebrated her 96th birthday this year. This August 5th marks the 60th anniversary of her death and Monroe remains as important as ever, a Hollywood icon that’s just as mysterious and alluring as she was when she first appeared onscreen.

Part of Monroe’s mythology lies in what’s tragic and unknown about her. While much has been said about her troubled childhood, a lot of people don’t know that her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, was born in Mexico.

Gladys Baker©GettyImages
Gladys Baker, circa 1925.

Gladys Pearl Baker was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila and was an impactful figure in Monroe’s life. Monroe (born Norma Jean Baker) had a tough childhood, living in different foster homes due to her mother’s inability to care for her. Gladys was first married to Jack Baker, who walked out on her with their two children, and later married Martin Edward Mortenson, who was Monroe’s father and disappeared a few months after their marriage. All of this turmoil resulted in Gladys leaving Monroe in the care of a religious family, who she felt was better equipped to care for her daughter.

Gladys and Monroe lived together briefly during the actress’ adolescence near Hollywood Boulevard, a moment that was pivotal for fostering Monroe’s passion for acting and her later involvement in the film industry. At some point after, Gladys was interned in a mental hospital, where she lived until her death in 1984.

Monroe At Premiere©GettyImages
Marilyn Monroe in 1954.

Monroe’s childhood and life is the stuff of Gothic stories, filled with tales of abuse, suffering and plenty of conspiracy theories that have captivated the American public for years. While some films have been made, few have received the attention that “Blonde” has. The film, starring Ana de Armas and premiering later this year, is based on a novel written by Joyce Carol Oates, which takes Monroe’s life and fictionalizes it, paying special attention to the relationship between Monroe and her mother.

While De Armas has received some criticism due to her accent, Monroe’s estate has come to her defense. “Any actor that steps into that role knows they have big shoes to fill. Based on the trailer alone, it looks like Ana was a great casting choice as she captures Marilyn’s glamour, humanity and vulnerability. We can’t wait to see the film in its entirety!” said Marc Rosen, president of Authentic Brands Group, which own’s Monroe’s estate.

Knowing that Monroe’s mother was born in Mexico, it’s not a stretch for the film to take a few creative licenses in the portrayal of Monroe, including the decision to cast a Cuban actress. If de Armas looks the part and the film looks great, who cares about accents?

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