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Marilyn Monroe
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Stories Alleging Marilyn Monroe’s Mother and Grandmother Tried to Kill Her as a Child Surface

Stories Alleging Marilyn Monroe’s Mother and Grandmother Tried to Kill Her as a Child Surface

A significant portion of the Netflix film Blonde focuses on Marilyn Monroe’s relationship with her mother, Gladys Peal Baker, and the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother, including one scene where Baker attempts to drown her daughter when she was a child. The film’s director Andrew Dominik admits to being inspired by Joyce Carol Oates’ novel of the same name, but he also makes clear the story is one entirely of fiction. However, there are some truths involved in the making of the film, including that doctors did diagnose Baker with paranoid schizophrenia.

At the beginning of the movie, fires begin in the Hollywood Hills, and Baker (Julianne Nicholson) drives a young Monroe toward the wildfires to take her to her father’s house. However, cops stop her and tell her to turn around, and they figure out Baker’s delusional. When Baker and Monroe return to their apartment, Baker runs a scalding hot bath for Monroe while disrobing herself and the child. She forces Monroe to get in the water and then forcefully shoves her underneath in an attempt to drown her. Monroe escapes and runs to her neighbor, Miss Flynn’s (Sara Paxton) house. There are no official records from law enforcement indicating Monroe’s mother ever tried to kill her, but the screen siren claimed she did so three separate times.


Related: Ana De Armas Says She Did Not Feel Exploited Filming Blonde

Marilyn Monroe’s Grandmother, Della Monroe, Also Allegedly Tried to Kill Her

According to Keith Badman’s book, Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years, one of Monroe’s husbands, Arthur Miller (who was recorded in Badman’s book), told BBC that Baker attempted to murder Monroe.

“Her mother was quite mad. Throughout most of her life, Marilyn often remarked how she could still vividly recall these horrific encounters.”

In addition, J. Randy Taraborrelli goes into detail in his book, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, about Monroe’s grandmother, Della Monroe, who allegedly tried to kill Monroe when she was an infant. Reportedly, Della experienced delusions similar to Baker, but she was able to convince her daughter that she couldn’t care for Monroe as a child, and they gave the baby to Ida and Wayne Bolender, who lived across the street. Taraborrelli writes that in 1927, Della went to the Bolender’s house and wanted to see Monroe. At first, Ida refused to let her in but eventually gave in. After breaking the glass pane of a window with her elbow, Della insisted Monroe had died, and the Bolenders hid this from Baker. To appease Della, Ida prepared a glass of water for her. However, when she returned, she found Della holding a pillow over the baby in her crib.

In the telling of the story, one of Baker’s friends said:

“Ida became almost hysterical. She grabbed the child. Della said that the baby’s pillow had slipped, and she was simply readjusting it. But Ida was very upset and demanded that Della leave the house.”

Taraborrelli wrote that Marilyn Monroe and even the Bolenders would tell variations of this story many times over the years.

Blonde is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.