Sixty years after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most intriguing celebrities of all time. This is due in part to the way that she reinvented herself, transforming from an orphan named Norma Jeane Mortenson to an A-list actor named Marilyn Monroe. And while there is quite a bit known about her early life—including that her mother is Gladys Pearl Baker and that she lived with several different families as a child—the identity of Monroe’s father has always been a mystery. But the director of a new documentary about the star is touting that the film reveals who her biological dad was.
Read on to learn more about Marilyn, Her Final Secret and the “irrefutable evidence” the filmmaker claims he’s uncovered.
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Baker was married three times, but none of those men were Monroe’s biological father. Before adopting her stage name, the star had used the last names Baker (belonging to her mother’s first husband) and Mortenson (belonging to her mother’s second husband). However, it has been suspected that Monroe’s biological father was actually Charles Stanley Gifford, a man who Baker worked for.
As reported by the Daily Mail, according to the book Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon by Charles Casillo, Baker told Monroe that Gifford was her father when she was eight years old and showed her a picture of him. “He was a mystery, a fantasy. It was the man in the photo to whom she related,” Casillo writes. “Norma Jean would spend a lifetime looking for this man in others, wanting to know him, loving him, passionately wanting him to love her back.”
As reported by Variety, The key evidence in Marilyn, Her Final Secret are the results of the DNA tests performed on a strand of Monroe’s hair and the saliva of Gifford’s great-grandchild. The hair sample was provided by an auctioneer and authenticator and was originally obtained right after her death.
“The hair that we used from Monroe was collected by the person who embalmed her body the day she died, and we were able to draw up 22 percent of her genetic profile from that thanks to a DNA fragment found in the keratin,” director Francois Pomès said.
Back when Monroe was alive and didn’t know her father, she wouldn’t have been able to take a DNA test in an effort to track him down. This sort of testing didn’t exist in the form it does today until the 1980s. According to Variety, Marilyn, Her Final Secret, include archival footage of Monroe, interviews, and a look into the science behind DNA testing.
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Pomès said that he “spent years and sleepless nights” in his efforts to confirm the identity of Monroe’s father and also promised that another “family secret” is revealed in the film. It also seems that relatives of the star’s supposed parent will be involved in the documentary.
“The thing that I touched me [sic] the most was seeing the reaction of Gifford’s family who were overwhelmed by this irrefutable evidence,” the director said.
It’s unclear, however, when exactly U.S. audiences will be able to see the documentary. Variety reports that it’s premiering in June on a French TV network and that an English-language version is currently being shopped around.
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