Monroe, Marilyn

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Born Norma Jean Baker to an unmarried woman, Monroe was fostered from babyhood until about the age of seven, because her mother was working and not well enough to care for her as well. During this time she had contact with her mother, but did not know who she was. Then she went to live with her mother, who soon became mentally ill and was hospitalized, whereupon Monroe was adopted by her best friend.

In spite of the adoption she lived in a series of nine more foster homes and an orphanage until she married for the first time at 16 in order to get out of the care system which had so seriously failed her. In one of the foster homes she was sexually abused by a lodger when she was eight.

She became one of the most famous actresses of all time and was also the mistress of President John Kennedy. Her death from an overdose of sleeping pills may have been an accident, but has also been attributed to suicide and murder.


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992)
Dictionary of American Biography
Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97
American Movie Classics Company. "Marilyn Monroe." [Includes portraits]. Available at:
Wilkins, Peggy L. "Marilyn Monroe." [Includes portraits]. Available at:


20th Century
Theater, Broadcasting, Cinema
Addiction or Abuse (drugs, Alcohol or Gambling)
Mental Illness
Murdered, Assassinated
Formal, American/European-Type Adoption
Formal, American/European-Type Fostering
Birth or Infancy
Parental Illness (Mental or Physical), Addiction
Unmarried Mother, Single Parent (Mother or Father) Unable to Cope
Family Friends or Acquaintances
Others ("Strangers")
Customary or Traditional Adoption, Informal and Extra-Legal Care
Institutional Care
Child in and out of Care
Unmarried Mother
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