While there’s no denying there have always been a lot of questions surrounding Marilyn Monroe’s personal experiences, the truth is the most enigmatic one remains the identity of her birth father. After all, as carefully profiled in Netflix’s biographical drama ‘Blonde,’ the Hollywood icon constantly struggled with not knowing who he was, which affected every aspect of her own being as well. So now, if you wish to learn more about her long suspected father Martin Edward Mortensen — with a specific focus on the reality of their relationship — we’ve got the essential details for you.
Who Was Martin Edward Mortensen?
Although born in California on February 26, 1897, Martin was reportedly the son of Norwegian immigrants and incredibly proud of both his Scandinavian heritage as well as his Lutheran faith. It was thus Gladys Baker’s interest in religion, along with her beauty, humor, and seemingly positive personality, that unwaveringly drew him in from the moment they met in the summer of 1924. The then 27-year-old meterman for a local gas company was actually a divorcee ready to settle down, just like her, driving them to happily tie the knot on October 11 despite their five-year age gap.
However, according to Donald Spoto’s ‘Marilyn Monroe: The Biography,’ since Gladys found life with Martin respectable yet “unendurably dull,” she simply walked out the door four months later. He did try to rekindle their connection for months and years on end, but to absolutely no avail because she just wasn’t interested in maintaining marital fidelity or a sense of undiluted security. Therefore, their divorce was finalized uncontested in August 1928 — three years after his initial filing (May 1925) and two after Marilyn was born Norma Jeane Mortenson (June 1926) to Gladys.
Was Martin Edward Mortensen Marilyn Monroe’s Real Father?
The fact Marilyn’s birth certificate explicitly lists “Edward Mortenson” — with the missing “Martin” as well as the misspelled surname — is the reason many believe him to be her biological father. Yet he positively can not be since Gladys first learned she was pregnant almost ten months after she left her husband for good, and she had actually already been involved with a few other men. They were Harold Rooney, Clayton MacNamara, Raymond Guthrie, and Charles Gifford, per Donald’s 1993 book, but she never approached any of them for support either once Marilyn was born.
It’s hence imperative to note a 2022 DNA test has indicated Marilyn’s real father was, in fact, Gladys’ co-worker Charles Stanley Gifford, with whom she purportedly had an affair back in 1925. The Francois Pomès-directed documentary ‘Marilyn, Her Final Secret’ even delves into this analysis and reveals that the samples used for comparison were the actress’ hair and Charles’ granddaughter’s saliva.
“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% of her genetic profile from that thanks to a DNA fragment found in the keratin,” the director said. On the other hand, Charles’ granddaughter (residing in Virginia) was approached in the hopes she would be open to help break open a family secret, and she was.
We should mention that Martin Edward Mortensen passed away at the age of 83 upon suffering a heart attack at the wheel of his car on February 10, 1981.