Marilyn had Mexican blood running through her veins and she embraced her latina heritage.
Think of the most American girl you can imagine: blonde, tall, and maybe a bit curvy just like Marilyn Monroe was. The Hollywood star was the epitome of beauty back in the 50s, but believe it or not, she, in fact, had Latina roots. More specifically, Mexican ones. How is that possible you may be wondering? Well, it turns out her mother was born in northern Mexico and Marilyn kept all that a secret.
But her relationship with Mexico goes beyond her mother’s origins. Norma Jean, Marilyn’s real name, had a special love for the southern country. She used to visit Acapulco bay, a place for jet setters back in the 50s and 60s. Keep reading to know the details of Marilyn Monroe’s Mexican roots.
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Marilyn’s mother was Mexican
Probably the name Gladys Pearl Baker says nothing to you, but in fact, she was Marilyn’s mother. She was the daughter of Otis Elmer Monroe and Della Mae Hogan, who after a series of droughts in the 1890s in the Midwest, migrated to northern Mexico to settle on their farm and a new lifestyle. Something pretty common by the end of 1890 and the early 1900s.
The family embraced the Mexican vaquero tradition of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, where the Monroe family prospered. By 1902, Gladys Pearl was born and three years later, arrived her sister Marion.
Both girls grew up fully immersed in the regional border culture and both spoke fluent English and Spanish.
Years later, Gladys moved to California where she met John Newton Baker and had three children: Norma Jeane, Robert (who died at an early age), and Berniece, who Marilyn met as an adult because the actress was left in a foster home from an early age because of domestic violence and mental health-related issued from her mother’s side.
Marilyn Monroe hid her Latina roots
Just before Marilyn got to be the Hollywood star we know, studio executives asked her to change her name to something more memorable, therefore she got rid (at least publicly) of the Norma Jeane Barker and embraced the Monroe maiden name of her mother.
But she also kept a secret her Mexican roots by even arguing that she was an orphan. She also was asked to pretend she didn’t know to speak Spanish or the fantasy of the perfect Californian girl could be ruined.
It was not until 1955, after her career finally came to success, that she decided to form her own company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, and take full control of her career. This is when she decided to embrace openly her Mexican heritage.
Marilyn’s relationship with Mexico
Since she became independent, she started to frequently travel to Baja California and Ciudad Juárez, a border city in the northern state of Chihuahua where she enjoyed parties next to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin during the Prohibition era.
In 1962, Marilyn visited Mexico City and Luis Buñuel’s set of “El Ángel Exterminador”, where she met Silvia Pinal, a renowned Mexican actress. Marilyn also met Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, another renowed Mexican actor, ate real tacos al pastor and even visited the Teotihuacan pyramids. She also started to answer questions in Spanish and even dressed in traditional Mexican costumes.
Some wonder that if she had not died in 1962 at the age of 36, Marilyn Monroe would have made public her Latina roots and embraced her Mexican identity.