A fictionalized account of the iconic Marilyn Monroe’s life, Netflix’s drama film ‘Blonde’ offers a detailed depiction of the legendary actress’ childhood and her relationship with her mother Gladys Pearl Baker. In the film, Gladys fails to take care of her daughter well due to her mental illness and alcohol consumption. In one of the pivotal scenes, Gladys even tries to drown her daughter in a bathtub. After Gladys’ admission into a mental hospital, Monroe visits her mother multiple times as well. Since the film doesn’t depict Gladys’ life after Monroe’s death, the viewers must be eager to know what really happened to her. Well, let us share what we know!
How and When Did Gladys Pearl Baker Die?
Gladys Pearl Baker died on March 11, 1984, at the age of 81, due to heart failure. At the time, she was staying at a retirement home in Gainesville, Florida. After getting diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Gladys was released from San Jose’s Agnews State Hospital in 1946. In 1949, she married an electrician named John Stewart Eley, with whom she lived for three years until Eley’s death due to a heart infection. At the time, she was working at the Homestead Lodge nursing home in Eagle Rock, California. After Eley’s death, Gladys’ condition worsened and she got admitted to Rockhaven Sanitarium, presently located in Glendale, California.
During her stay at Rockhaven, Gladys was found unconscious in her room with her left wrist slit. However, she survived the incident. As per reports, Gladys used to write to Monroe regularly, pleading for her release from the establishment. At the time, Gladys used to refuse medicines that were prescribed to control her schizophrenia since the medicines didn’t align with her religious teachings. “[…] with her [Gladys’] mental illness affecting her intensely, she’d become firmly convinced that the doctors at Rockhaven had been poisoning her food. She wrote to her daughters that she needed to be released very soon or, as she noted to Berniece, ‘I will most certainly die in here from all of the poison,’” J. Randy Taraborrelli wrote in his book ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.’
Monroe and Gladys met for the last time in the summer of 1962. When the daughter asked her to take medicines, Gladys replied that all she needed was prayers. “You’re such a good girl, Norma Jeane,” Gladys told Monroe before the latter departed, as per Taraborrelli’s book. Monroe had left a trust fund of $100,000 for her mother to receive $5,000 annually but the latter didn’t receive the same until 1977 reportedly due to legal and financial issues. In 1963, Gladys managed to escape from Rockhaven but she was found at Lakeview Terrace Baptist Church, which was located fifteen miles away from Rockhaven. She was then transferred to Camarillo State Mental Hospital.
In 1967, Gladys was released from the hospital under the care of Berniece Baker Miracle, her daughter. In 1970, she moved to the retirement home in Gainesville, which wasn’t far from Berniece’s place. “Gladys continued to live in Florida, spending infrequent time with her daughter Berniece—at her own decision—for many more years. She was known to ride a tricycle around town with a red flag on the handlebars that read, ‘Danger.’ Around 1977, she finally began receiving money from the estate of Marilyn Monroe,” Taraborrelli wrote about the last few years of Gladys’ life before she died in March 1984.