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by Jennie M. Xue

Norma Jeane Mortensen, which was later baptized as “Norma Jeane Baker,” made up Marilyn Monroe; she was never completely Marilyn. Norma Jeane played the role of a bombshell actress with platinum blonde hair. And she played her so well that she became a prisoner inside this sexy body, which she herself admired.

In private, she was a completely different person.

Deep inside, Marilyn was a little lost child, an orphan, and a homeless waif. This legendary figure was not what the public thought she was. She was a much more complex personality than simply a “blonde sexy actress.”

She was intelligent, sensitive, witty, caring, a woman, a teenage girl, a little girl, a baby, a goddess, a wife, a survivor, sincere, used, abused, empowered, victimized, and anything in between. Above, she was a woman beyond her time, according to a women liberation movement leader, political activist, and journalist Gloria Steinem in Marilyn, a biography.

Norma “Marilyn” Jeane was complicated, yet simple. She was glamorous, yet modest. She had a heart of a lioness, yet the disposition of a kitten. She was naked, yet no one could see through her.

She didn’t plunge into Hollywood movie business to make millions. She didn’t care about how much money she could have made, she only wanted to be loved. Ironically, her movies earned in excess of $100 million after her 1962 death. She received a meager $1,500 per week even when she was a big star. From 1947 to 1954, she appeared in 24 films.

Norma Jeane Baker was born out of a single mother named Gladys Baker Mortensen on June 1, 1926 at Los Angeles General Hospital. Her mother worked in film labs and movie studios. Her last name was taken from her mother’s first husband, despite her biological father’s name was Stanley Gifford. Gifford never acknowledged her as his daughter, even after Marilyn became a famous movie star.

She was sent from one foster home to another, due to her mother’s inability to take care of her financially, emotionally, and psychologically. Gladys was institutionalized in mental asylum several times during her childhood.

Norma Jeane had borderline paranoid addict personality disorder with psychotic features, but not schizophrenic. She had chronic hallucinations, persistent delusions, gross disorders of thinking, which at times rendered her unable to think straight and prone to obliterating herself.

For having “borderline personality,” Norma Jeane had profound disturbance of identity, which mattered to her ego. The sense of self was constantly fluctuating, bearing a danger to dissolution into nihilism.

She needed to reinvent herself continuously as the core of her identity was non-existent. She was “neurotic” that she feared of losing things and people she loved. Having psychotic anxiety meant she was always fearing a loss of sense of self and being reduced to nothing.

Due to her conditions, she had disassociation and depersonalization. According to DSM-IV, “depersonalization” is a part of “dissociative disorders,” meaning having “a feeling of detachment or estrangement from one’s self.” It was as if she was living in a dream state and having sensation of being apart of one’s body. She often referred herself in third person, according to a biography by Steve Poser titled The Misfit, in which Marilyn’s relationship with her last psychoanalyst Dr. Ralph Greenson was revealed.

Being born during Post-Depression and having grown up in Post-World War II, Norma Jeane didn’t experience an era in which women have been greatly liberated from various stigmas. Today we can understand how being raised by a single mother out of an illegitimate relationship, being rejected by a biological father, and being raised by friends instead of by her own mother combined with silence, isolation, and blame is too big a burden to bear.

Upon her former agent Johnny Hyde’s death, she regretted that she didn’t marry him for he could have lived longer if she did. Afterward, Marilyn Monroe married a legendary baseball player for the New York Yankees America’s “Last Hero” Joe DiMaggio and a Pulitzer-winning playwright and essayist Arthur Miller possibly out of a need for having a protective and strong father figure, who was both gentlemanly and scholarly.

She was childless, despite rumors that she gave birth to a baby boy that was later adopted. The baby boy was the result of a rape by a foster father prior to her getting married with her first husband James Dougherty. But Dougherty said that she was a “technical virgin” when she married him.

Throughout her life, she had numerous miscarriages and abortions, including two miscarriages when she was married to Arthur Miller. She believed that to have a child, a woman needs to be with a man who loves her unconditionally. She had many affairs with both famous and not-so-famous men, including the Kennedy brothers and Frank Sinatra.

She continued to be close to his former husbands’ relatives, which might have been a reflection of longing to have a family. She also built friendships with women with children, from whom she learned about family lives.

Norma “Marilyn” Jeane died at 36 years old in August 1962 due to an overdose of barbiturates, which was probably a suicide. She died in the first and only house she had ever bought in Brentwood, California. She put a sign “Cursum Perficio” meaning “my journey ends here” in Latin when she had just moved six months before her death.

DiMaggio continued to be her good friend long after their divorce and it was him who arranged her funeral, cried openly in front of her casket, kissed her forehead saying “I love you,” and put flowers in her hands prior to her burial. For many years, DiMaggio put fresh flowers on her cemetery every day.

The world has lost an innocent strong woman whose sparkling eyes and million-watt smiles continue to illustrate magazines and inspire people of all ages. A shooting star died young, but the legacy lives on.

A legacy of innocence, curiosity, and glamor.[]

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