Born Gladys Pearl Monroe.
Spouse Gladys Mortenson then Gladys Eley.
Date of birth: May 27, 1902, Porfirio Diaz, Mexico (before, the city was named Piedras Negras).
Date of death: March 11, 1984, Gainesville, Florida.
1901 : 2440 Boulder Street, with her mother Della 1912 : 321 bis South Hill Street, Los Angeles (at Lyle Graves', her mother's second husband) 1916 : 26 Westminster Avenue, Venice, California, with her mother 1917 : 26 Westminster Avenue, Venice, California, with John Baker (,
1918 : 1595 North 21st Street, Los Angeles, with John Baker () 1919 : 1410 Coral Canal, Los Angeles Juin 1921 : 46 Rose Avenue, Venice, with her mother
Eté 1923 : 1211 Hyperion Avenue () (now Silver Lake, Los Angeles), Hollywood, with Grace McKee 1926 : 5454 Wilshire Boulevard 1927 : 549 East Rhode Island, Hawthorn, with her mother Della 1929 : 6228 De Longpre avenue, with Grace McKee
1933 : 6021 Afton Place, Hollywood (); 6812 Arbol Street 1945 : 11348 Nebraska Avenue 1949 to 1952 : 10538 Santa Monica Boulevard, with her husband John Stewart Eley 1953 to 1967 : Rockhaven Sanitarium, 2713 Honolulu Avenue, Verdugo City, California. At the end of her life : Collins Court Home for elderly people, 4201 S.W 21 Place, Gainesville, Florida.
Gladys spent her childhood in Mexico where her father worked for the Mexican railways.
Spring 1903 : her
parents settled in Los Angeles where her father had found a better paid job at the Pacific Electric Railway.
They lived in a small one-room bungalow located in the 37th Street West (south downtown).
Between 1903 and 1909, they lived in at least 11 houses or furnished apartments.
In 1908, Otis's health,
worsened very quickly. His memory became erratic, his answers often
irrelevant; he suffered from violent headaches and his outfit became
more and more neglected.
Some fits of rage, which scared Della and the children, alternated with
weeping fits and he had violent shivers, sometimes followed by attacks. Summer 1908 : after an attack, Otis became half-paralyzed. Gladys was aged 6. November 1908 : Otis
was admitted at the Southern California State Hospital in Patton (San
Bernardino County). He was diagnosed with a general paresis, the
ultimate level of nervous syphilis (the treatment of this illness was
discovered in 1908).
Despite many interpretations, his mental illness was the result of a circumstantial pathology, not a hereditary disease.
During the first months, Della visited him at the hospital. Then he sank in a complete dementia, didn't even recognize his wife.
Della had to provide for her children needs, so she had to find a job.
On July 22, 1909, without having left the hospital in 9 months, Otis died. He was aged 43.
Maybe terrified with her husband's lightning mental decline, Della told
the children that their father had become insane, maybe because of
alcohol or his chaotic life.
However the medical file she received after Otis's death, clearly
explained that he died from an organic disease and not a mental one.
Anyway, Della, Gladys and Marion were deeply convinced that their
husband and father, who died from an infection which had infected his
nerve cells, had died from insanity.
On March 7, 1912 : Della, Gladys's mother, married Lyle Graves, switchman in chief at the Pacific Electric, where Otis had worked.
The family settled in Graves's house located 324 bis South Hill
Street, in the new business district of Los Angeles. Very quickly, Della realized her mistake : Lyle also had a problem with alcohol.
November 1912 : Della left the residence with her 2 children, Gladys and Marion, and lived in a furnished place.
Christmas 1912 : she
returned to Grave's home, apparently because she had no more income.
But despite the presents Lyle gave to the children, the reconciliation
May 1913 : Della definitely left Graves.
January 17, 1914 : the divorce between Della and Graves was pronounced.
End of 1916 : Della
rented a room in a boarding house located 26 Westminster Avenue,
Venice, south of Santa Monica (California). The owner of the guesthouse
was named Jasper Baker and hired her to run his property while he ran a game room on the beach, the Pickering Pleasure Pier.
Gladys was aged 14; she was brilliant, expressive, coquette (-);
she had light brown hair, her voice clear and high, laughed easily and like Della, was thirsty for attention from men.
Gladys fell in love with Jasper, aged 26.
January 1st, 1917 : during a dancing party celebrating the New Year Eve, Della met a charming widower, Charles Grainger. The following days, he visited her almost every evening, at Westminster Avenue.
To Della, life with Grainger was far more exotic than what she had dreamt of.
Grainger worked in the oil industry and lived not far from her, at 1410
Coral Canal Court, in a humble 2 rooms bungalow, facing the Venice
canals. It was a much more charming place than 26 Westminster, and when
she discovered it, Della was under its spell. Living together without
being married was not much more tolerate than abortion at that time,
but anyway, Charles and Della thought seriously about living together.
She made her called Mrs Grainger, and none seen anything.
This idea was likely Charles's one. His employment prospects weren't
sure and he hoped having new contracts abroad. Besides, he had to
provide for his 2 sons needs, who lived in North California. He
probably wasn't enthusiastic with the idea of being legally responsible
for Della and her chidren's needs. Both cautious with this new father
and upset seeing her mother living a situation that didn't give her any
emotional stability, Gladys wasn't happy. She showed it to Grainger by
being whether completely mute or with a foul mood.
So Della began finding her daughter exasperating, especially as she was still waiting for Grainger's offer to live with him.
On May 17, 1917 : Gladys married John Newton (Jasper) Baker (--
Della Monroe declared that her daughter was 18 years old (while
she was just 15) on the pretext of there was no proof of her real date
Della, all smiling, attended the wedding, then gave her Westminster
Street room to the young couple, and quickly moved in Charles
At the beginning of her wedding, Gladys was a happy married woman ,
On the birth certificate (), the Bakers wrote Della Monroe's address (1410 Coral Canal Court).
If one had discovered Gladys had been pregnant for her wedding, which
happened before her legal age, Jasper Baker would have faced a trial
for corruption of a minor.
With Della's address mentionned as hers, this meant either Della's
agreement, or the fact she presented herself as Gladys and her
Her father's death, her mother's emotional inconstancy didn't lead
Gladys to stability. She didn't mean to look for a traditional home.
Soon tired with maternity and its demands, she preferred giving her
children to her neighbours's care to attend balls and parties on the
beaches. For her husband, he worked for long hours as a salesman.
1921 : Jasper and Gladys visited Jasper's mother in Flat Lick,
Kentucky. During the trip, young Robert fell from the car and had his hip injured.
During their stay, Gladys went for a hike with Ardrey, Jasper's younger
brother. But Jasper was jealous. When she went back, Jasper beat her.
Gladys ran through the streets, screaming and crying, saying she was
afraid of her husband.
They went back to California, and as soon as they arrived, she filed for divorce.
June 20, 1921 : Gladys filed for divorce for "Extreme cruelty and extreme mental cruelty (...)"
Jasper Baker in return accused Gladys of indecent and sensual behaviour.
She left home and rented a bungalow located 46 Rose Avenue in Venice, she shared with her mother.
Gladys signed the lease under the name of Della Monroe, where she
agreed to sublet 2 rooms, to be paid as a manager and to pay $100 a
month to the owners, Adele Weinhhoff and Susie Noel. End of June 1922 : the
last check of the rent hadn't been paid. There was an argument between
Della and Gladys, each of them accusing the other to waste the money.
None of them having a job, the main part of their income was provided
from Charles Grainger, the rest from a modest amount sent from Jasper
Their short roommates experience ended in July, after an expulsion
threat. Della, with Grainger's permission, went to live in en empty
bungalow he owned in Hawthorn.
May 11, 1923 : the divorce was pronounced and Gladys obtained her children's custody ().
One day Jasper came and picked the children up for a week-end custody;
he brought them to Flat Lick, Kentucky, at his own mother's home,
thinking the children would be better raised by his mother. So he
settled there, wanting to start a more quiet life.
Robert was hospitalized in Louisville because he still limped with his
injured leg. During his stay at the hospital, Gladys arrived, furious
in Flat Lick and wanted her children back. In vain, she asked the help
from Myrtle, one of Jasper's sisters. But they kept Berniece hidden and
asked Gladys not to go to the Louisville's hospital to see her little
boy. Anyway she settled in Louisville, and worked as a housekeeper,
waiting for Robert to be in a better condition. She worked for Harry and Lena Cohen, whose second daughter was named Norma Jean
(); they lived at 2331 Alta Avenue in Louisville (,
At that time, John remarried.
After having a behavior that scared the little girl she took care of, she was dismissed. She finally went back to Los Angeles.
She first worked as a negative-cutter at the Consolidated Film Industries ().
She worked 6 days on 7, in a crowded room, wearing white gloves to
protect the negatives from any hand-contact. She cut the pieces of
movies the heads of the studios had annotated, then gave the pieces to
those who would stick them together in the planned way they had to, for
the final negative. On her line, she saw the images created to
End of Summer 1923 : Gladys and Grace shared an apartment located 1211 Hyperion Avenue, East Hollywood.
1924 : ,,,,-
She went again to Kentucky to see her children, but they were
strangers now. So she left, giving full custody to their father.
During Summer 1924, she met Martin Edward Mortenson,
a meterman at the Southern California Gas Company. The
circumstances surrounding their meeting are unkown. He was at once
charmed with Gladys. For him she was the ideal woman. She found him
handsome, generous, stable and had no reason to reject his proposal of
a wedding and a more secure life.
October 11, 1924 : she married Mortenson (,).
Gladys was unable to deal with the loyalty demanded by the wedding. As
she told Grace McKee, life with Mortensen was acceptable, reassuring
but terribly boring.
May 26, 1925 : she left home and went back to live with Grace McKee; she also reconnected with Gifford she had dated.
Several times Mortenson tried to contact her again; he waited, full of hope. But as Gladys didn't answer to him,
he finally filed for divorce ().
The divorce was granted on August 15, 1928.
End of 1925 : Gladys learned she was pregnant. Separated and mixed up with her divorce, she asked for her mother's support.
Della reacted badly to her daughter's situation; she ignored her
daughter's complaints and tears, and travelled to the South-East Asia,
which was planned for a long time, with Charles Grainger, who has been
sent there by his employer, the Shell company.
June 1st, 1926 : she was admitted at the Los Angeles General Hospital.
At 9.30 AM, Dr Herman M.Beerman gave birth to Norma Jeane.
Her stay was paid with a collect from her colleagues.
On the birth certificate, Gladys made Edward Mortenson written, he was a baker with an unknown address
While Mortenson had legally filed for divorce for home desertion, he
was still legally married to Gladys and so legally Norma Jeane's
father, until prove otherwise.
Norma Jeane's potential father is probably Stanley Gifford, despite the
fact that Gladys didn't ever pretend it. She didn't ask for any support.
She couldn't give her job up and didn't know anyone who could take care of her baby.
On her mother Della's advice, who was back from her trip, it was
decided to place the child in a serious and devouted family, the Bolenders, who lived in the same street in Hawthorn.
Like many families of this era, the Bolenders earned an extra money by taking care of several children.
They were paid $25 a month, from the parents or from the State of California.
Beginning of 1927, Della's heart began to fail, and she suffered form frequent respiratory infections.
She was completely dependant on Gladys who, while she needed more time
to travel in trolley to go to work, had settled at Della's home.
At the end of spring, Della's condition had worsened. Her
cardio-pulmonary issues worsened and put her in a deep despression.
Because of her pulmonary illness, she could have deliriums then
suddenly total exhilaration. That reminded Gladys her father's fanciful
behaviour during his last years.
In July 1927, Della was convinced she soon will be dead. Her guilt and memories alternated with hallucinations; her parents Tilford and Jenny Hogan had reconciled, she said to Gladys. They would come to save her and bring her back home.
Shortly after, she visited the Bolenders to see her grand-daughter. She
beat at the door then, angry not to get any answer, she broke the
August 4, 1927 Della was admitted at the Norwalk State Hospital where she was diagnosed with an acute myocarditis.
On August 23, she died from a heart attack during a fit of madness, what Gladys and Marilyn herself considered as a family curse.
As cause of death, the certificate mentionned a myocarditis and a
However, Della's medical file didn't mention any psychological analysis, nor neurological report.
It seems that Della Monroe (this name appeared in her file) died from a
cardiac disease which, because of her brain's lack of oxygen, caused
severe cerebral damages.
Like her husband Otis, nothing proves she was crazy, but for Gladys, the family dementia myth got consolidated.
Della's death deeply depressed her.
She decided to sell the bungalow and took a job at 2 studios, the Columbia and the RKO, where she worked during week and week-end.
1928, El Segundo Beach
With Olyve Monroe,
August 15, 1928 : the divorce with Edward Mortenson was pronounced.
She settled at the Bolenders in Spring 1933, to take care of Norma Jeane who suffered from the whooping cough.
May 29, 1933 : Gladys learned that her grand-father Tilford Hogan, had hung himself.
August 16, 1933, her son Robert died, aged 15, because of a bone tuberulosis.
That led her to suffer from depression. Thinking her parents had died "insane", she was convinced her own
mental condition was in danger ().
Gladys and Norma Jeane lived at 6021 Afton Place, not far from the
Hollywood studios, and still worked at the Columbia Pictures. She had
obtained a $5000 loan from the California Mortgage Guarantee
Company, President Roosevelt had enacted a law, allowing low rate
On August 23, 1933, she
made a down payment of $750 for the purchase of a house
located 6812 Arbol Drive, not far from the Hollywood Bowl. The
last owners were Daniel and Nadine Whitman.
It was a furnished house, 6 rooms including 4 bedrooms,
located in a cul-de-sac. She had been
charmed with the house and the Franklin white grand baby
piano, which would have belonged to actor Frederic March.
She had no choice but renting a part of the house. An English couple, the Atkinsons, was her tenants. They worked as extras in movies. They shared the kitchen and the bathroom.
: the Atkinsons were confronted with an hysteria crisis; they called an
ambulance which forced Gladys to be admitted at the Los Angeles General
Hospital. She left the hospital in February 1934,
before being hospitalized in an asylum, in Santa Monica. From
there, she was transferred again to the Los Angeles General Hospital.
We don't know who took care of the girl, the Atkinsons or Grace, but
she only saw her mother during few rare week-ends, when Gladys was
allowed to go out. December 1934, Gladys was transferred to the Norwalk State Hospital.
January 15, 1935, she
was declared definitely insane (paranoïd schizophrenia) from the
Norwalk State Hospital's doctors, where her own mother had died several
The head doctor report declared : "Her
illness is characterised by religious preoccupations and a deep
depression and some excitation; this condition seems to be
March 25, 1935 : Grace McKee became her legal guardian, a decision from the California Superior Court of
- $60 on her bank account
- $90 from non-endorsed insurance checks
- a small radio
- a $350 due for a Plymouth
- $200 due for the baby grand piano.
Grace sold the car, the piano for $235 and the house loan.
September 28, 1936 : Gladys bank account status under Grace's responsability
after trying to escape the Norwalk State Hospital, she was transferred
to the Agnew State Asylum in San Jose, near San Francisco. She said she
had received several calls supposedly from Edward Mortenson.
Since, Norma Jeane didn't see her mother much.
Winter 1938 : Gladys
wrote to her daughter Berniece. Not having her address, Gladys had sent
her letter in Flat Lick, to Jasper's parents. They were deceased so the
mailman gave the letter Jasper's brother, who still lived in Flat Lick;
he sent it to Pineville where Jasper was living.
In this letter, Gladys informed Berniece of her
half-sister's existence, aged 12, whose name was Norma Jeane. Gladys gave the
Goddard's address (Grace McKee had married Ervin Goddard in 1935) where Norma Jeane was living.
The letter was written
from the Agnew State Hospital where Gladys was still hospitalized. She
begged her to help her getting out of this institution, and also gave
her the address of her aunt, Dora Hogan Graham (Della Monroe's sister)
whi lived in Portland, Oregon.
Berniece answered Gladys, saying she had contacted several people,
including Dora Hogan Graham, and said she would try to get her out.
February 7, 1940 : status of Gladys financial situation, under Grace McKee's responsability, since September
1945 : Dora Graham
interceded in favor of her to the auhtorities, and to be allowed to
leave, Gladys agreed to live for at least a year with her in Portland.
She went out of the hospital during Summer. Norma Jeane visited her in
Dora wrote to Berniece that Gladys seemed focused on a Christian
Science book, and wanted to care sick people without the help of
medicine. She wore white clothes, like a nurse. First she worked short
time jobs, near Dora's place. She made some housework and non medical
treatments to patient convalescing.
April 1946 : Norma Jeane sent her some money so she could come back in Los Angeles.
They lived together in 2 small rooms Norma Jeane rented, in the basement of Ana Lower's home, located on Nebraska Avenue.
August 1946 :Berniece went to Los Angeles to visit them. She travelled with her daughter Mona Rae. Norma Jeane, Grace McKee, Ana Lower and
Gladys welcomed them.
Gladys became obsessed with the Christian Science; thanks to Ana
Lower's "healer practitionner" skills, she discovered the possibilities
on the mind on illness, and devoutly studied many books on the subject.
On Sundays she attended the Church services.
At the end of the summer, Gladys went back to Oregon.
February 1948 : Gladys was back in Los Angeles, she made some houseworks and lived at Ana Lower's place.
April 20, 1949 : Gladys
married John Stewart Eley (born June 13, 1889, in Pennsylvania), an electrician from
Pennsylvania, but having
lived in Portland in the beginning of the 1940s ().
He hadn't clarified
that he wasn't divorced from his wife, Frances, who lived in Boise,
Idaho. They lived in Los Angeles, 10538 Santa Monica Boulevard.
He died on April 23, 1952, aged 62, from a cardio-pulmonary affection, he was cremated.
Letter from Gladys to Marilyn ,,,
1951 : Inez Melson was hired by Marilyn as financial adviser.
1952 : Marilyn named Inez Melson as Gladys's legal guardian.
Check from Marilyn to Gladys dated July 25, 1952-
Gladys visited Berniece in Florida
February 9, 1953
: on Grace's advice, Gladys was admitted in a private institution, more comfortable, the