Happy 95th Birthday Marilyn!

Today Marilyn would be turning 95 years old, which is so hard to comprehend considering she’s been gone for almost 59 years! With each year, I always try and discuss the two most significant moments in Marilyn’s life; her Birthday and Anniversary.  After writing posts on such important highlights since starting my Blog in 2015, I’ve aimed to stay as creative as possible and make sure to come up with something unique.

For this year I had the idea of sharing photos and information of Marilyn celebrating her Birthdays. Sadly, there’s only a number of years that have actual pictures documenting the day, depending on if she was attending an Event or socializing with friends etc. However, I still want to write about as many of her Birthdays as possible, so I will try and share whatever she was doing on her special day or if nothing is available, then important anecdotes from that month and/or year.

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JUNE 1ST 1926:

Arguably the most important of them all, the day Marilyn was born. Marilyn was born Norma Jeane Mortenson (then changed to Baker – Gladys first Husband’s second name) on a Tuesday morning at 9:30 AM at the Los Angeles General Hospital. She was the third child of Gladys Monroe and although her current Husband, Edward Mortenson was listed as the father, they had been long separated. Marilyn’s, “father”, if you can call him that, is generally accepted to be Charles Stanley Gifford, a man Gladys worked for at the Consolidated Film Industries.

JUNE 1ST 1927:

I couldn’t find any information on how Marilyn’s 1st Birthday was celebrated sadly, but in this year, (and for the next six) she was living with her Foster Family, Ida and Albert Bolender and their adopted son Lester. Only two months younger than Norma Jeane, Ida once wrote in a letter to his birth parents in 1927 about the pair, saying,

“Little Norma Jeane is with me. She is the baby girl I had when Lester came. Lots of people think them twins. I dress them alike at times and they do look cunning. They are full of mystery and keep me busy.”

JUNE 1ST 1928:

Again, not much information, if any, is available from Marilyn’s 2nd Birthday. However, during the Summer, she did spend time with her mother Gladys and her Uncle’s family for a day out at the Beach at Santa Monica. I don’t know of the particular reason for them having quality time together, but as it was in the sunshine, I’d like to think it was possibly something to do with Gladys wanting to see Norma Jeane around her Birthday.

JUNE 1ST 1929:

This year, The Bolender’s enrolled Norma Jeane at Hawthorn Community Sunday School for a year.

JUNE 1ST 1930:

Norma Jeane continued to have a fairly stable home life with the Bolender Family and saw her mother most weekends for the first few years of her life. However, although she still paid for Norma Jeane’s care, Gladys was no longer seeing her as often as she had done previously. Norma Jeane would have to be reminded to call Ida her Aunt, as she was repeatedly told she was not her mother. Regarding Gladys, when reflecting on her time with her as a child she said,

“It’s true that to me she was always, the woman with the red hair.”

JUNE 1ST 1931:

Norma Jeane started at the Ballona Elementary and Kindergarten School in September of this year and continued to have a considerably normal life with her Foster Family.

JUNE 1ST 1932:

On March 27th, Norma Jeane and 50 other children participated in The Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service. It would be her first public appearance and ironically, she reflected on this moment saying that she was, “bored.” She also started 1st Grade at the Vine Street School, although she would only remain there for one year.

JUNE 1ST 1933:

Tragically, the Summer of 1933 was not a kind one for Norma Jeane. Her biological Great Grandather, Tilford Hogan, Gladys Grandather, committed suicide two days before her Birthday, on May 29th 1933. Neither Gladys nor Norma Jeane knew him personally, but the tragedy deeply affected her mother in particular. With the tragic deaths of her Parents – her father, Otis passed at 43 and mother, Della at 51 and now her Grandather, Gladys now had a deep believe that she would too suffer a horrific fate.

Albert, Norma Jeane’s Foster Father, had let her adopt a stray dog, named Tippy in 1931. He would be the first in a long list of animal friends that Marilyn would take in during her lifetime, famously stating how, “dogs never bite me, just humans.”

It’s been said he would walk with her to school and even wait for her to finish, showing the special bond the two shared. Horrifically, an evil neighbour would end up killing Tippy in June of this year, with varying accounts being he was either annoyed by his barking or him being on their premises. Naturally, this event traumatized Norma Jeane especially and Albert would go on to bury him in their garden.

Furthermore, Gladys would also learn of the death of her firstborn, Robert, affectionately known as, “Jackie”, who throughout his short life, had a number of horrific accidents, including the loss of his right eye. After her divorce from Jasper Baker in 1923, Norma Jeane’s half brother and sister Bernice, would continue to be raised by their father and at aged just 15, on August 16th 1933, he would pass away from bone tuberculosis, without ever meeting his youngest sister.

These three horrific events were to arguably alter Norma Jeane’s mostly stable life that she had been used to for the first seven years. In August of that year, Gladys had decided to take her out of the Bolender home and move them both in to a three bedroom house, located at 6812 Arbol Street.

JUNE 1ST 1934:

Again, I couldn’t find any information on how Norma Jeane celebrated her 8th Birthday, but that Summer she did go to see Cleopatra (1934) and as an adult she often reminisced about her love of Movies and Hollywood Stars, especially Jean Harlow. She would later recall these special childhood memories saying,

“When I was younger, I used to go to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and try to fit my foot in the prints in the cement there. And I’d say “Oh, oh, my foots too big. I guess that’s out.” I did have a funny feeling later when I finally put my foot down into that wet cement, I sure knew what it really meant to me, anything’s possible, almost.”

JUNE 1ST 1935:

Sadly, after just over four months of Norma Jeane finally living with her mother Gladys, on January 15th she was admitted into the Norwalk State Hospital and declared insane, having been diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia at just 32 years old.

On Norma Jeane’s 9th Birthday, her mother’s best friend, Grace Mckee – soon to be Goddard, became responsible for Gladys’s financial welfare and future. However, a whirlwind romance to, Erwin “Doc” Goddard on August 10th, would mean that she would find herself entering the Los Angeles Orphans Home on September 13th.

JUNE 1ST 1936:

Although not yet living with Grace, she would become Norma Jeane’s official Guardian on February 26th. The rest of her 10th year she continued to live at the Orphanage but still received visits from Grace. Although slightly irregular, she would take her on outings to the Beauty Salon to have her hair styled. Marilyn would reflect on these times over two decades later saying,

“My Orphanage was private and Grace used to visit me and take me out. Not as often as they say, but she used to come and take me out sometimes and I could put on her lipstick. I was only nine then. She’d take me someplace to get my hair curled, which was unheard of because it was allowed and because I had straight hair. Things like that meant a great deal to me.”

JUNE 1ST 1937:

After living in the Orphanage for 21 months, six days after her 11th Birthday, on June 7th – (some sources say June 26th), she would leave the home and finally live with Grace and her family at 6707 Odessa Avenue. On reflecting on her relationship with Grace, Marilyn would say,

“She was always wonderful to me, without her who knows where I would have landed! I could have been put in a state orphanage and kept there until I was eighteen.”

Sadly, the day Norma Jeane left the Orphanage would also be the day her favourite Movie Star, Jean Harlow, tragically died of kidney failure at just 26 years old. In an Interview with Georges Belmont for Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1960, she talked fondly about the original Platinum Blonde,

“I had favorite stars. Jean Harlow! I had platinum blonde hair and people used to call me, “tow-head.” I hated that and I dreamed of having golden hair, until I saw her, so beautiful and with platinum blonde hair like mine.”

JUNE 1ST 1938:

Norma Jeane would turn 12 years old and her Guardian, Grace bought her a new dress for $11.74 and had her hair done for $60, documenting this for a special photoshoot. She also gave her an empty photo album as a present for her to keepsake her pictures.

Due to a previous sexual assault incident with Grace’s Husband, “Doc” in November 1937, Norma Jeane had been placed in the care of her mother’s sister-in-law, Olyve, her three children and her mother, Ida Martin. Gladys’ brother, Marion, had deserted his family in 1929 and was never seen again. Some time during the Summer of 1938, her 13 year old cousin, Jack, sexually assaulted her, which resulted in her being moved once again, through absolutely no fault of her own.

JUNE 1ST 1939:

Thankfully, after multiple disturbing experiences, Norma Jeane had settled in with Grace’s Aunt, Ana Lower, after being placed in her care from August 1938. Talking about her beloved, “Aunt” Ana in later years, Marilyn said,

“There was real contact between us because she understood me somehow. She knew what it was like to be young. And I loved her dearly.”

Sometime in June, Grace took Norma Jeane to San Francisco, to visit Gladys, who was now residing in a hospital there.  The visit wasn’t exactly a happy occasion, with Gladys sitting the majority of the time in silence, only once commenting, “You used to have such tiny little feet.” They wouldn’t see each other again until six years later in 1945.

JUNE 1ST 1940:

In the Summer, Norma Jeane started spending time with Chuck Moran, a year older, after meeting at the Hi-Ho Drive In, he clearly had developed romantic feelings after trying to make a move whilst they were dancing at the Ocean Park Pier. Sadly for Chuck, Norma Jeane rebuffed his advances, recalling the story years later, Marilyn commented,

“Poor Chuck, all he got was tired feet and a fight with me. But I thought, well, he isn’t entitled to anything else. Besides, I really wasn’t so smart with sex, which was probably a good thing.”

JUNE 1ST 1941:

On June 27th, Norma Jeane received her Junior High School Diploma from the Ninth Grade. She loved her Journalism Class and even contributed pieces to the School Paper, The Emersonian. Ironically, she wrote a column about the following results of 500 student questionnaires, stating how 53% of gentlemen.. preferred blondes.

Norma Jeane’s beloved, “Aunt” Ana’s declining health would result in her return to Grace’s home later this year.

JUNE 1ST 1942:

The month of June 1942 would be a significant time in Norma Jeane’s life. Within the past year, both Grace and her Neighbour Ethel Dougherty had decided to become novice matchmakers, with Ethel asking her youngest son, Jim, to escort Norma Jeane to the 1941 Adel Precision Products Christmas Ball, where Grace’s Husband, “Doc” worked.

After learning that, “Doc” would be transferred to West Virginia, Grace had to tell Norma Jeane she would not be joining them on their move. The reason being, as Grace would no longer be living in Los Angeles, this would result in her losing financial aid for her care and therefore wouldn’t have the abilities to support her.

To prevent further upset and the outcome of Norma Jeane having to return to the Orphanage until she was eighteen, Grace had decided to arrange a Marriage, as it was legal at sixteen in Los Angeles to do this. With Jim being informed of Norma Jeane’s potential return to the Orphanage, he agreed.

On June 19th, just over two weeks after her 16th Birthday, Norma Jeane would become Mrs Norma Jeane Dougherty.

JUNE 1ST 1943:

Norma Jeane and Jim had settled into married life, after moving to 14223 Bessemer Street, which was located in the San Fernando Valley. She adopted a stray collie, which she named Muggsie, who she absolutely doted on, even bathing her twice a week. Much to Norma Jeane’s dismay, Jim decided to enlist in the Merchant Marines and after he completed his training, she joined him in a two bedroom apartment in Avalon.

JUNE 1ST 1944:

In April 1944, Norma Jeane would have her first job, working at the Radioplane Company for ten hours a day, inspecting parachutes originally and then moving onto the paint department. She was making 70 cents an hour, which did increase to 85 and worked out at $20 a week. Jim had left with the Marines on Sea Duty early that year and she would not be reunited with him until the Holidays.

On June 15th, two weeks after her 18th Birthday, Norma Jeane wrote to her former Guardian, Grace saying,

“Jimmie has been gone for seven weeks and the first word I received from him was the day before my Birthday. He sent a cable night letter by Western Union saying, “Darling, on your Birthday I send you a whole world of love.” I was simply thrilled to death to hear from him.”

JUNE 1ST 1945:

Norma Jeane sent a letter to her Guardian Grace and her Sister Bernice, (Gladys had finally informed them of each others existence in 1938)  on June 4th, three days after her 19th Birthday. She talked about her first experience in the limelight, modelling for Photographer David Conover. He discovered her whilst she was working at the Radioplane Company and would also reunite with her on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in late 1952.

“The first thing I knew the lead man and lead lady had me out there, having the army taking pictures of me. They all asked where in the H — I had been hiding. They took a lot of moving pictures of me, and some of them asked for dates, etc. (Naturally I refused!) After they finished with some of the pictures, an army corporal by the name of David Conover told me he would be interested in getting some color still shots of me.”

 JUNE 1ST 1946:

Just over a month after her 20th Birthday on July 5th, Norma Jeane filed for Divorce from Jim after four years of marriage, her modelling career was flourishing and the idea of being a housewife did no longer appeal.

A few weeks later, she signed her first contract with 20th Century Fox and in December, Casting Director Ben Lyon helped change her name professionally, to Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn never forgot this significant moment in her life, recalling fourteen years later to Georges Belmont in 1960,

“I owe a lot to Ben Lyon. He was the first to believe in me. He even gave me my name.”

Ironically enough, Lyon himself was a former Actor, having starred with Jean Harlow in her first movie, Hell’s Angels (1931) fifteen years earlier.

JUNE 1ST 1947:

Ten days after her 21st Birthday, Marilyn attended the Los Angeles Press Club’s 8 Ball Welfare Foundation and later that month acted in her first film, Dangerous Years (1947), playing a Waitress called Eve.

JUNE 1ST 1948:

A day after her 22nd Birthday, Marilyn acted as Hostess at the Los Angeles Press Club and meets Mayor Fletcher Bowron.

JUNE 1ST 1949:

On May 27th, four days before her 23rd Birthday, Marilyn would pose for her now iconic nude, “Golden Dreams” and “A New Wrinkle” Calendars, with Photographer Tom Kelley. She insisted his wife, Natalie, was in attendance. She would get just $50, which was used to pay for either food, rent and/or car bills – the stories vary. Kelley would, upon hindsight, regretfully sell the copyrights for $500 to Baumgarth Company.

Columnist, Sheilah Graham, wrote about the incident in June 1952,

“A pompous visitor asked Marilyn Monroe at Niagara—”Is it true that when you posed for that famous calendar photograph, Miss Monroe, you had nothing on?” “No,” said our Marilyn, “I had the radio on.”

JUNE 1ST 1950:

For her 24th Birthday, Marilyn received a pet chihuahua,  named Josefa, from 20th Century Fox’s Co-Founder and friend. Although adored by her owner, who went so far as to feed her calf liver and even bought a quilt for Josefa to sleep on, unfortunately, she wasn’t house trained..

JUNE 1ST 1951:

On June 12th, eleven days after her 25th Birthday, Marilyn takes part in a Photoshoot for Modern Screen Magazine, with other Starlets, Nick Savano, Craig Hill and Mala Powers. It was at Herman Hover’s Beverly Hills home, the owner of Ciro’s Restaurant. Marilyn actually wore the same bathing suit her character, Joyce Mannering has on in, Let’s Make It Legal (1951)

JUNE 1ST 1952:

For her 26th Birthday, Marilyn received the wonderful news that she had landed one of the Starring Roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) opposite Jane Russell.

Three days later on June 5th, she started location shooting in Canada, for her first technicolor leading role in Niagara (1953) – not only was it the film that transformed her from Starlet to Star, it’s also significant for two other reasons. Firstly, this is the only time she plays a femme fatale/villain and secondly – *spoiler* (even though it’s 68 years old so at this point, I really don’t think I can be blamed) her character, Rose Loomis.. dies.

JUNE 1ST 1953:

The month of June 1953 was a very special time in Marilyn’s life, especially three and a half weeks after her 27th Birthday. On June 26th, she and her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Co-Star and friend, Jane Russell were immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

From visiting most weekends as a child and trying to fit her own hands and feet in the many celebrity prints, Marilyn really had come full circle and I can only imagine how little Norma Jeane would have felt knowing her dream had came true.

JUNE 1ST 1954:

Three days before her 28th Birthday, on May 29th Marilyn started filming for There’s No Business Like Show Business. A press photo states that this picture was in fact taken on her actual Birthday, as Co-Star Donald O’Connor and Singing Coach Ken Darby all share a toast.

JUNE 1ST 1955:

On her 29th Birthday, Marilyn attended the Premiere of film, The Seven Year Itch, with soon to be Ex-Husband, Joe Dimaggio. After an emotionally distressing separation in October 1954, they had thankfully been able to form a friendship, which would last until the end of Marilyn’s life.

After the Premiere, Marilyn went to the reception given for her at the Toots Shor, unfortunately her and Joe would get into an argument and she would end up leaving the Party.

JUNE 1ST 1956:

On her 30th Birthday, Marilyn met Indonesian President Sukarno at a party arranged by Joshua Logan (Director of her film Bus Stop) at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Sukarno was a huge fan of American Movies and had requested to be introduce to the Hollywood Star. After attending the event, she departed for New York, before reporters stopped to present her with a Birthday Cake.

JUNE 1ST 1957:

Marilyn spent the Summer having a well earned rest at her Roxbury Home with third Husband, Playwright Arthur Miller. She made one of her few public appearances of the year, attending the Premiere of The Prince and The Showgirl, a few weeks after her 31st Birthday, at Radio City Music Hall on June 13th in New York.

She would also find out she was pregnant this Summer, but tragically suffer an ectopic pregnancy and spend 10 days in hospital from August 1st.

JUNE 1ST 1958:

Five days before her 32nd Birthday, on May 27th Marilyn would participate in a Photoshoot with Richard Avedon for LIFE Magazine, which would be released seven months later, on December 22nd. It was entitled, “Fabled Enchantresses” and the text was written by Arthur Miller, which he affectionately called, “My Wife Marilyn”. Marilyn portrayed five Stars, Lillian Russell, Theda Bara, Marlene Dietrich, Clara Bow and her personal favourite, Jean Harlow.

She received a letter from Joe Wolhandler, Marilyn’s New York Publicist, the following year, on January 19th saying the following,

“Dear Marilyn: That issue of LIFE Magazine that carried your picture set an all-time record in sales. More copies were sold of that issue than any other issues in the history of LIFE. The figure was 6,300,000 and more could have been sold if they had printed more. LIFE’s circulation department tells me that this is the highest circulation figure in their entire publishing career.”

JUNE 1ST 1959:

On June 23rd, three weeks after her 33rd Birthday, Marilyn entered the hospital to have more surgery to fix her chronic endometriosis. Over the years she would have at least three other operations to try and help ease her suffering. 

JUNE 1ST 1960:

Marilyn celebrated her 34th Birthday on the set of Let’s Make Love (1960) where she received a unique Birthday Card. It was created by Artist Joseph Krutak and showed Marilyn as her character, Amanda Dell, surrounded by various quotes and items from the movie, with the bottom being signed by the whole cast.

Once filming had finished for the day, her Press Agent, Rupert Allan, threw a Party at his home in Beverly Hills. In attendance were Playwrights, Tennessee Williams and Clifford Odets – the latter happened to write Clash By Night eleven years before Marilyn would star in the movie, in 1952. She would end up spending the majority of the night with the two, speaking about one of her favourite things – the Theatre.

JUNE 1ST 1961:

On her 35th Birthday, Marilyn would send a Telegram to her Psychiatrist, Dr. Greenson, 

“Dear Dr. Greenson: In this world of people I’m glad there’s you. I have a feeling of hope though today I am three five. Marilyn.”

She also spoke about her Birthday to Journalist Jonah Rudd and it was published four days later, on June 5th in The London Daily Mail,

“I’m very happy to have reached this age. I feel I’m growing up. It was wonderful being a girl, but it’s more wonderful being a woman.”

She also reunited with Photographer, Andre de Dienes, who was one of the few to take pictures of Marilyn as a relatively unknown Starlet (1945, 1946, 1949) and Hollywood Star, in 1952 and 1953. 

JUNE 1ST 1962:

On Marilyn’s 36th Birthday, she would have a small celebration on the set of her last film, Something’s Got To Give (1962) which would end up being her last ever day on set. Her frequent Stand-In, Evelyn Moriarty arranged the party.

She would also receive a telegram from Joe Dimaggio, who was currently in Europe, saying, 

“Happy Birthday, hope today and future years bring you sunny skies and all your heart desires. As ever, Joe.”

After she had finished work, Marilyn would make what would be her final public appearance at the Dodger Stadium, which was holding a game to Benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She would borrow her costume from filming and looked as beautiful as ever.

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It’s so wonderful that even 95 years later, millions of fans will be celebrating Marilyn today all over the world. I like to think that wherever she may be now, she knows how eternally loved and appreciated she is, just as she was in her lifetime and arguably, even more so.

RELIABLE MARILYN SOURCES:

CURSUMPERFICIO
DIVINEMARILYN
MARILYNREMEMBERED
THEMARILYNMONROECOLLECTION
ALL MARILYN BOOKS BY MICHELLE MORGAN

ICON: THE LIFE, TIMES & FILMS OF MARILYN VOLUMES 1 & 2
BY GARY VITACCO-ROBLES

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