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The Religious Affiliation of
Marilyn Monroe
great American actress


Christian Science was the only religion she really knew. Joyce Carol Oates' biography of Monroe (Blonde, The Ecco Press) is one of many good sources of information on her Christian Science affiliation. As part of Monroe's marriage to Arthur Miller, she converted to Judaism. Historians believe the conversion was only nominal. From Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe) encyclopedia article, apparently from Wikipedia (URL: http://encyclopedia.laborlawtalk.com/Norma_Jean_Baker; viewed 5 May 2005):
Marilyn Monroe... was born Norma Jeane Mortensen in the charity ward of Los Angeles County Hospital (now County-USC) in Los Angeles. Her grandmother, Della Monroe Grainger, later had her baptized Norma Jeane Baker by Aimee Semple McPherson [the immensely popular female Pentecostal evangelist who founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel]... Marilyn's mother [was] Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker...

Unable to persuade Della to take the baby, an overwhelmed Gladys placed Norma Jeane with Wayne and Ida Bolender of Hawthorne, southwest of Downtown Los Angeles, where she lived until she was seven. The Bolenders were a religious couple who supplemented their meager income by being foster parents. In her autobiography, My Story, ghostwritten by Ben Hecht, Marilyn said she thought Wayne and Ida were her parents until Ida, rather cruelly, corrected her.

[Marilyn] married playwright Arthur Miller in a civil ceremony on June 29, 1956, then in a Jewish ceremony two days later. [They divorced on January 24, 1961.]

...Marilyn is interred in a crypt at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

...[Marilyn's mother] Gladys... died of congestive heart failure on March 11, 1984 at a nursing home. Obsessed by Christian Science, she would refuse to discuss Norma Jeane or Marilyn Monroe, perhaps unable to relive the past. A woman once so fascinated with movie stars that she named her daughter after one (Norma Talmadge) apparently never knew she had given birth to one of the most famous women in history.

From: "Marilyn's Life Story" by jkvsprotege1@cs.com (http://marilynm.websitegalaxy.com/wsn7277.html; viewed 4 October 2002)
When she turned 11, Norma Jeane [Marilyn] was rescued by Gladys' good friend, Grace McKee Goddard. During these times, Grace would often take Norma Jeane to the movies where they'd see the latest Jean Harlow movie. Grace's idolization of Harlow rubbed off on young Norma Jeane, and from then on, Jean Harlow was her favorite actress. It seems Harlow was even more than a favorite actress or hero to Norma Jeane. Their lives are so similar, that it seems Jean Harlow's life was almost a blue-print for Marilyn's. They were both raised as christian scientists, they had complicated relations with their mothers, they married their first husbands at age 16 and dropped out of highschool to do so, both married 3 times, posed nude, wore no underwear and very revealing clothes, they were the most popular blonde bombshells of their time, and their last films before they died were co-starring Clark Gable.

...On June 29, 1956, Marilyn married playwright Arthur Miller in a civil ceremony, and on July 1 in a Jewish ceremony. She was quoted saying "Arthur would never have married me if I was just some dumb blonde". Marilyn actually took the Jewish wedding seriously, and formally converted to her husband's religion.

From a review of Joyce Carol Oates biography of Marilyn Monroe, Blonde:
The more desperate the refusal to deal with life, the more contrived and artificial the avoidance becomes. "The Blonde," a peroxide confection so obviously artificial that her very essence exudes escapist fantasy, is the pinnacle of sensuousness only if you are attracted by illusion and repulsed by reality, Oates seems to imply. The actress herself, though she reads Tolstoy and Kierkegaard and clings to Christian Science principles in an attempt to ground her life in some kind of meaning, can do little more finally than scratch the surface of the ideas she encounters, not because she isn't intelligent but because she can't allow herself to see the truth about her own life and the world she has made for herself by running from it.
From: Amanda Coyne, "This alaskan life: Reading the scientific way" in Anchorage Press, November 27 - December 4, 2002, Vol. 11, Ed. 48 (http://www.anchoragepress.com/archives/document5353.html; viewed 5 July 2005):
There have been lots of famous Christian Scientists - Marilyn Monroe, Carol Channing, Jean Harlow, the Anchorage Daily News' Kay Fanning, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman from the Nixon administration, Val Kilmer, Robert Duvall.

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Webpage created 24 June 2005. Last modified 5 July 2005.
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