Gladys Pearl Baker is most notably known as the mother of iconic actress Marilyn Monroe. Born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, she later moved to the United States, where she spent the majority of her life. In this article, we will take a closer look at the life of Gladys and explore her portrayal in the film ‘Blonde.’
What Happened To Gladys Pearl Baker?
Gladys had a challenging life marked by upheaval and personal strife. She was first married to John Baker, with whom she had two children. This relationship ended abruptly when Baker left her and took their two children.
She later married Martin Edward Mortenson, who was thought of being Marilyn Monroe’s father. However, their relationship was short-lived, as Mortenson disappeared a few months into their marriage. In 2022, it was revealed that Monroe’s father was actually Charles Stanley Gifford, for whom Gladys was working as a negative film cutter.
These unfortunate events led Gladys to a situation where she was unable to provide the necessary care for her daughter, Monroe, who was born Norma Jeane Baker. As a result, Monroe spent much of her childhood in various foster homes. As it appears, Gladys even tried to kidnap her from her foster mom, Ida Bolender. Mary Thomas-Strong, who knew Monroe’s first foster family, recalled the following:
“The truth was that Gladys had a problem watching Ida raise her child. She was a professional mother, in a sense. She wanted to have her way with Norma Jeane, and it was hard for Gladys to be on the sidelines.”
When she was 16 years old, Monroe married 21-year-old James Dougherty, but their marriage didn’t last long. Gladys was hospitalized due to a nervous breakdown in 1934, and when she was released from San Jose’s Agnews State Hospital, she and Monroe briefly lived together near Hollywood Boulevard during Monroe’s adolescence. This time was crucial for inspiring Monroe’s passion for acting and her future involvement in the film industry.
How Old Was Gladys When She Died?
Sadly, Gladys’s life took a severe turn, and she was later interned in a mental hospital due to diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia, where she stayed until her death in 1984. She lived a life full of adversity until she passed away. According to J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,’ Glady was born on May 27, 1902, so she was 81 at the time of her death.
Was Gladys Pearl’s Depiction in the Movie ‘Blonde’ Accurate?
Gladys’ life and her relationship with her famous daughter were depicted in the film ‘Blonde.‘ Based on a novel written by Joyce Carol Oates, the movie delved into the dynamics between Monroe and Baker. However, it has received criticism for certain inaccuracies in its depiction of their life story. Gladys, for instance, is portrayed in the film as unstable and deceitful.
Scenes showing Gladys attempting to drown Monroe in the film were purely fictional, with no evidence supporting these incidents in real life. The factual elements about Baker presented in the film primarily revolve around her mental health diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and her institutionalization.
The movie features Ana de Armas, a Cuban actress who plays the role of Monroe. Despite some critics voicing concerns about her accent in the film, Monroe’s estate came forward in defense of de Armas, highlighting her successful capture of Monroe’s glamour, humanity, and vulnerability.
You can watch the trailer for ‘Blonde’ below.