Happy Heavenly birthday to Marilyn Monroe’s mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker Eley, born on this day, May 27th, 1900, in Piedras Negras, Mexico.
Like Marilyn, Gladys had a chaotic upbringing. In her mid-teens, she married Jasper “Jap” Baker and mothered two children with him, Robert Kermitt “Jackie” and Berniece. In 1921, she filed for divorce on the grounds of “extreme cruelty by abusing and calling her vile names and using profane language at and in her presence, by striking and kicking.” During what was supposed to be a weekend trip to see his children, Jap, took the children to live with him in Kentucky. Heartbroken, she followed them and found work as a nanny but later lost her job. She moved back to Los Angeles, where she got a job as a film cutter for Consolidated Film Industries, and in 1924, she married Martin Edward “Ed” Mortensen. They split after just four months, Gladys moved in with her good friend, Grace McKee (later Goddard).
In late 1925, she learned she was pregnant and gave birth to her third child, Norma Jeane Mortenson. Two weeks after her baby girl was born, she brought her to live foster parents Ida and Albert “Wayne” Bolender. Gladys made regular $5-a-week payments for Norma’s bed and board.
Gladys was an infrequent visitor until 1937 when, after Norma‘s dog, Tippy, passed away, she took her to live with her. Gladys wanted to make a home for the two of them. The two hoped all would be well in a house with a baby grand piano. Unfortunately, after suffering a breakdown, Gladys was institutionalized. She would then begin a cycle of being in and out of hospitals.
During the Spring of 1946, Gladys moved into a little apartment Marilyn was living in owned by Ana Lower for a few months. In the coming years, she held a job and even married Colonel John Eley. Not long after did her mental health take a turn for the worse. Both Grace and Berniece felt she needed to be re-institutionalized; Marilyn said she would handle it.
In 1953, Gladys entered Rockhaven Psychiatric, where she remained until Berniece moved her to Florida a few years after Marilyn’s death. Marilyn not only paid for Gladys’ care while she was alive but even after by including her in her will. Gladys died in 1984, outliving Marilyn by twenty-two years.