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Aged about 10 months Norma Jeane Baker was born at 9:30am on 1 June 1926 in the charity ward of Los Angeles General Hospital. It is widely reported that Gladys named her daughter, Norma Jeane, after the actress Norma Talmadge but Marilyn's half-sister Berniece, says that she had actually been named after Norma Jean Cohen Seidman of Louisville. (No one seems to know why Gladys Baker added an �e� to her daughter�s name.) That little-known assertion can be found in �My Sister Marilyn,� a 1994 memoir published by a half-sister to Monroe � Berniece Baker Miracle � and Miracle�s daughter, Mona Rae. On page 236, Miracle writes that their mother, Gladys Baker, a native of Paint Lick, Ky., told her that Norma Jean Cohen of Louisville was the person who inspired her younger sister�s name. Norma Jean Cohen was born Aug. 3, 1921, in Louisville to Harry and Lena Ramm Cohen. She was 5 years old when Marilyn was christened Norma Jeane.

Below is a very rare picture of Norma Jeane with her half-sister Berneice and their mother Gladys:

Her fathers identity was (until recently) in doubt. His name was almost certainly Charles Stanley Gifford. He was not at the birth as he had abandoned Norma Jeanes mother (Gladys Pearl Baker) when she told him of her pregnancy on New Years Eve in 1925.

2 weeks after her birth, Norma Jeane was taken to live with her first foster family, the Bolenders. The picture below is a rare picture of Norma Jeane with the Bolenders, Norma Jeane is holding her dog Tippy.

Norma Jeane with the Bolenders, Norma Jeane is holding Tippy her dog

The house in which Norma Jeane spent her formative years still remains in Hawthorne although the street named has changed from Rhode Island Ave to 134th W. Hawthorne. The Bolender house todayThey were a devoutly religious couple, strict but kind and they loved Norma Jeane very much. Due to her mother's history of mental instability, and being single with a young daughter and needed to work to support herself, she decided it best to place her baby in a foster home and so at just under 2 weeks of age Norma Jeane was taken in by the Bolenders where she remained for the first 7 years of her life. Ida and Wayne Bolender had a six-roomed bungalow and although they didn't have a great deal of money they increased their income by fostering children for which they were paid $5 a week by the parent(s). If the children were orphans then the state of California paid.Norma Jeane and Lester

Norma Jeane and Lester Bolender were affectionately known as 'the twins' because they looked so much alike (he was only 3 months older than she was) and because they were so close. They always played together and were the best of friends.Norma Jeane and Lester Another child, Nancy was 2 at the time Norma Jeanes mother came for her in 1933. Norma Jeanes mother would visit on Saturdays and sometimes she slept over. Most of the time though she would have a date and have to rush home Saturday evening to get ready. On one of her Saturday visits she promised Norma Jeane that when she had managed to get enough money together she would come and get her and they would live together in a house of their own. She told her: "I'm, going to build a house for you and me to live in. It's going to be painted white and have a back yard." Norma Jeane and her mother Gladys on Long Island Beach 1928Norma Jeane caught Whooping Cough when she was 5 and inadvertently passed it on to Lester. During the time that she was ill, Gladys moved into the prettily painted pink rear bedroom and nursed Norma Jeane back to health. As soon as she was well, Gladys left again although she did (as promised) find a home for them both and return for Norma Jeane 2 years later.

It appears that although the Bolenders didn't have a great deal of money they were kind and loving parents although strict. Ida Bolender believed in protecting a childs physical and emotional health and then their spiritual health in that order. Wayne Bolender was a postman. In his spare time he printed religious pamphlets Norma Jeane and her mother Gladys on Santa Monica Beach 1928which he distributed to the local Christian community while Ida took care of the house and the children, both fostered and their birth-son. Ida didn't want Norma Jeane to call her mama as she thought it would confuse the child but Wayne didn't mind being called Dad by Norma Jeane. They both wanted to adopt Norma Jeane but Gladys wouldn't allow it and after Gladys became hospitalised and Grace McKee Goddard became Norma Jeanes guardian, she wouldn't allow it either. In the 1980's, Wayne Bolender was heard to say sadly that looking back at how it had turned out, he wished now that they had adopted Norma Jeane.

In August of 1933 Gladys signed a contract with The California Title Mortgage Company and borrowed some money from them which together with her savings was enough to start buying a white bungalow located at 6812 Arbol Drive in Hollywood. Money was still tight but Gladys was resourcefull. She rented the whole house except for two rooms (one for her and one for Norma Jeane to an English couple, she told Norma Jeane "It's all on time, but don't worry," "I'm working double shift at the studio, and I'll soon be able to pay it off."

It seems that Gladys really did want Norma Jeane to live with her. The combination of working double shifts, borrowing money, saving up money, and renting out most of the house were just enough for a single mother to manage to keep a home going.

aged nine with a friend Gladys suffered a 'nervous breakdown' the following January however and was admitted to hospital. At first the English couple (Mr and Mrs George Atchinson managed by selling off a few bits of furntiture but eventually they had to return to England.

Grace assumed guardianship of Norma Jeane and put her out among various foster homes before putting her in the Hollygrove Orphanage when she was nine. She was occupant number 3463. She took her out again when she was eleven and from then Norma Jeane stayed sometimes with Grace, sometimes in foster homes and sometimes with her beloved Aunt Ana. Norma Jeane with Aunt AnaThe only times that she did not live with Ana was when the old lady was ill. Grace and her husband decided to move when Norma Jeane was fifteen.

However they didn't intend to take Norma Jeane with them (it's said that that was for financial reasons).

By this time Aunt Ana Lower was very ill with her heart condition and was in no position to take Norma Jeane in either.

Ana often said that if she wasn't a

'poor old woman with a heart condition' she would take Norma Jean in 'in less than a moment'.

Grace decided that there were only 2 options for Norma Jeane, either she must return to the orphanage until she was 18 (Norma Jeane was adamant she didnt want this) or she had to get married.

With this in mind, Grace approached a near neighbour Ethel Dougherty who then told her son Jim:

The Goddards are moving and they're not taking Norma Jeane with them. Would you be interested in marrying her?

Grace and her husband Erwin 'Doc' Goddard Grace McKee Goddard


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