Much has been said over the years about the relationship between Marilyn and her mother – it was difficult and strained, this much we know. Gladys’ mental illness made things so that, by the end of Marilyn’s life, the two women had no real relationship at all.
There are few pictures of the two together over the years, and none appear to be after Marilyn became a star – which indicates that, although Marilyn paid for Gladys’ upkeep at institutions where she was being cared for, it is likely that she did not visit Gladys, nor meet her outside of any such institution. They did maintain a relationship through correspondence over the years, though even this was fraught and strained at times.
This is no more evident than in a letter that Gladys wrote to a young Norma Jeane whilst in a mental hospital in 1947. Newbridge Silverware have this letter on display in their amazing Museum Of Style Icons along with many Marilyn related items. They have very carefully preserved the letter and without them it may have been lost or damaged beyond repair.
Below is the transcript of the letter:
It is quite some time since I wrote you but I’ve not changed in that it is doing no one any good for me to be in here nor is it causing me to grow in Christian Science. As I told you before all these Dr’s are syciatrists and they heal just the opposite to the way we do in Christian Science. I am always mentaly bumping up against their manipulation of my mind which I know is not christian sceneice and we are taught to use and know our own mind and not anothers. The mental argument that insues only causes jealousy over both systems.
Would you please remove me to a christian science institution. For truly dear ones that is the only answer. All the nurses here
in even see it is best. I love them but the 2 systems just don’t mix harmoniously. You don’t want anything infurious to happen to me do you?! Please dear see to this at once.
Anxiously waiting for your answer.
At first glance the letter appears to be a plea from Gladys to be rehomed, but, if you look closely, it’s almost threatening by the end; “you don’t want anthing infurious to happen to me do you?!” – Can you imagine how a young Norma Jeane must have felt to read this letter?
Gladys remained, on and off, for large periods of her life, in various institutions. She died on March 11, 1984 at the age of 82.
Find out more about Gladys in other articles I’ve written here.