Marilyn Monroe

Madagascar postage stamp of Marilyn Monroe, printed c. 1999, photo by gors4730/

Birth Name: Norma Jeane Mortenson

Date of Birth: June 1, 1926

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Death: August 5, 1962

Place of Death: Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Ethnicity: English, small amounts of Scottish, Irish, and Welsh

Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, model, and singer. Her roles include As Young as You Feel, Monkey Business, The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, and The Misfits. She was on the cover of the first issue of Playboy.

Her half-sister was author Berniece Baker Miracle. Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Pearl (Monroe), was born in Porfirio Díaz, Mexico, now Piedras Negras, to American parents. Her family had moved there from the Midwest during the droughts of the 1890s. She had English, as well as Scottish, Irish, and Welsh, ancestry. A DNA test of a relative of Marilyn’s maternal grandfather established Marilyn as a descendant of a soldier from the area around Tain, Scotland, who was exiled to America after the English Civil War, in the mid-17th century. Marilyn’s stepfather was John Newton Baker.

Marilyn’s mother listed her former husband Martin Edward Mortensen, as Marilyn’s biological father on her birth certificate, though they had been separated for some time. Marilyn’s mother later told her that her biological father was Charles Stanley Gifford. DNA testing disclosed in the documentary Marilyn, Her Final Secret (2022) indicated that Charles was Marilyn’s biological father.

Charles Stanley Gifford was born in Newport, Newport Co., Rhode Island, and was of entirely Colonial American [English] descent. His family had deep roots in Rhode Island. Martin Mortensen was the son of Martin Mortensen, from Stavanger, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway, and of Catherine “Katie” Higgins, from Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri.

Monroe converted to Judaism before her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, in 1956. She practiced Judaism after their divorce.

During her youth, Marilyn lived with future film star Jody Lawrance. Her mother Gladys was a friend and co-worker of Jody’s stepmother, film editor Clara Grace McKee-Evans (née Atchinson). Grace became a legal guardian of Marilyn. Marilyn was enumerated in the 1940 U.S. Census in the household of Ervin and Grace Goddard.

Marilyn’s biological paternal grandfather was Frederick Almy Gifford (the son of Charles Adams Gifford and Susan Bateman Almy). Frederick was born in New Bedford, Bristol, Massachusetts. Charles was the son of John Allen Gifford and Lydia F. Tompkins. Susan was born in Tiverton, Newport, Rhode Island, the daughter of Samuel Elam Almy and Susan Bateman.

Marilyn’s biological paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Easton “Lizzie” Tennant (the daughter of William Congdon Tennant, Jr. and Elizabeth Cutting Easton). Marilyn’s grandmother Elizabeth was born in Newport, Newport Co., Rhode Island. William was the son of William Congdon Tennant and Mary Lawton Bliven. Elizabeth was the daughter of John William Easton and Frances Ann Franklin.

Marilyn’s maternal grandfather was Otis Elmer Monroe (the son of Jacob Monroe and Mary E. Appleton). Otis was born in Indiana. Mary was the daughter of James Appleton and Elizabeth Jane Smith.

Marilyn’s maternal grandmother was Della Mae Hogan (the daughter of Tilford Marion Hogan and C. V. “Jennie” Nance). Della was born in Missouri. Tilford was the son of George W. Hogan and Sarah Ann Owen. C. V. was the daughter of Levi Nance and Sarah C. Jones.


Book biography of Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, 2007 –

Article about Marilyn’s Scottish ancestry –

Article about Marilyn’s conversion to Judaism –

Genealogies of Marilyn Monroe –

Genealogies of Marilyn’s biological father, Charles Stanley Gifford –


Curious about ethnicity

74 Responses

  1. Hadnodiner says:

    norwegian that’s it

  2. ses101 says:

    Neiltennant – Yeah , well there is no mention of this Gifford guy being Jewish. What is your obsession wth claiming so many people are Jewish?

  3. savanna says:

    Article on Monroe’s Scottish ancestry:

    “DNA research by the Clan Munro USA has found that Monroe was descended from a soldier from the area who was exiled to America after the English Civil War… It found a link to John Munro, a soldier from the area around Tain, who traveled to America in the mid-17th century.”

  4. fuzzybear44 says:

    much respect to her, she did a great thing for another great lady

  5. savanna says:

    Why’s that? Numerous Marilyn biographies have looked into the case of her biological father. Marilyn’s mother told her it was Charles Gifford and Marilyn made several attempts to contact Gifford to no avail, he had moved on with his own life and family. Marilyn’s half-sister Berniece (she and Marilyn have different fathers) wrote in her book that she asked their mother who Marilyn’s father was and she was told Gifford. Charles Gifford was not Jewish.

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