Netflix’s ‘Blonde’ follows the life and career of Marilyn Monroe. Despite all the fame and fortune that she amasses in her lifetime, one of the central things that the film focuses on is her loneliness. From the beginning of her story to its tragic end, we find her alone, trying to find a place for herself in the world all on her own. People come and go as her relationships rarely survive past a few years. This makes us wonder if things really were so dire for her in reality. Did Monroe really have no family to fall back on? What about her siblings? Did she have any? What happened to them? Let’s find out.
Who Were Marilyn Monroe’s Siblings?
Marilyn Monroe spent most of her childhood alone. She was an only child of Gladys Baker and Charles Stanley Gifford. Her mother was institutionalized and her father was never really in the picture. Her parents never lived together, but were married to other people and had different families, which means that Monroe had a few step-siblings, though she didn’t get to meet all of them.
Marilyn Monroe’s Step-Siblings on Her Father’s Side
Charles Stanley Gifford was married to Lillian Gifford and had two children, Doris and Charles Jr. Doris died at the age of 12, but Charles went on to live a long and happy life. Born in 1922, he served in the US Navy during the Second World War. While stationed in England, he met his wife Joan, with whom he had three children, Diann Jordan, Tim, and Francine Dier. It was the DNA of Francine Dier which was used to confirm that Charles Stanley Gifford was Monroe’s biological father.
According to his obituary, after the war, Charles worked as a sales manager with Union 76 and later worked in real estate development. He was also a deacon and Treasurer of the Bayview United Church of Christ, a member of the Freemasons, a member of the Board of Directors of the Navy League, and served on the Civic Facilities Commission of Norfolk. After Joan’s death in 2008, Charles married Betty Chiappa. In 2015, he passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 92.
According to Daily Mail, Charles had a suspicion that he was Monroe’s half-brother. While he didn’t share his thoughts with anyone his entire life, around the time of his death, he’d asked his family to take his hair and do a DNA test to confirm whether the rumors about Monroe’s parentage were true. By the time that happened, Charles had passed away.
Marilyn Monroe’s Step-Siblings on Her Mother’s Side
Before she had Monroe, Gladys was married to Jasper Newton Baker. They had two kids, Robert Kermit and Berniece, born in 1918 and 1919, respectively. After Gladys and Jasper got divorced in 1921, he kidnapped the children and took them to Kentucky, which is where he raised them, away from their mother. In 1933, Robert Kermit died of kidney failure at the age of 15. He didn’t know about Monroe, but Berniece got the chance to connect with their half-sister, and she maintained a good relationship with her till the end.
In 1938, at the age of 19, Berniece married Paris Miracle. They had a child Mona Rae, who was born in 1939. It was during her pregnancy that Berniece received a letter from Gladys, informing her of the existence of her half-sister. At this time, Norma Jean was only twelve years old and had already been moved around a lot in orphanages and foster homes. The sisters connected over letters but didn’t meet each other until 1944 when Monroe arrive in Detroit, where Berniece used to live. “By then she was married to her first husband, Jim Dougherty, and came to Detroit by train to visit us. From then on, we stayed in touch. She used to call me when she was married to Arthur Miller and having trouble,” Berniece said.
Berniece stayed close with Monroe, whom she described as “a wonderful sister”, until her death. She’d visited the Hollywood star in her New York home in 1961. A year later, when Monroe died, Berniece helped her ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio to arrange her funeral. “I chose her casket and decided on the pale green dress she wore,” she said. In her will, Monroe left $10,000 to her sister, who kept her distance from the media. The only time that Berniece talked about her relationship with Monroe was when her book, co-authored with her daughter, ‘My Sister Marilyn: A Memoir of Marilyn Monroe’ was published in 1994. Berniece died the same year, at the age of 94.