Was Marilyn Monroe Mexican?

Was Marilyn Monroe Mexican? Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen multiple posts claiming that she was. The truth is a bit more complex than a simple yes or no. So, lets dive in!

Where Did This Rumour Come From?

As with a lot of the more recent Marilyn rumours, this one seems to have originated on TikTok. With it’s penchant for short form, trend setting videos, TikTok has become the bane of Marilyn fans lives. Someone can load a 30 second video claiming anything about Marilyn, and, if it goes viral (which they tend to do) it’s all over the internet in a matter of minutes.

So, my understanding is, that someone on TikTok looked up Marilyn’s ancestry, saw that her mother was born in Mexico, and made a video saying Marilyn is Mexican/ Latina!

So, What’s The Truth?

The truth is that Marilyn and her family are as American as they come. Pretty much all the way back to the 1600’s, Marilyn’s ancestors were born, raised and died, in America. All bar one.

In 1901, Marilyn’s grandfather was offered a job building the Mexican National Railway. The salary was good so they moved down there, settling just across the border. Otis and Della Monroe lived in a town called Piedras Negras where, on May 27, 1902, they welcomed their daughter, Gladys Pearl Monroe.

It seems to be the fact that Marilyn’s mother was born in Mexico that’s got people readily believing Marilyn is of Latina origin. However, by the spring of the following year, Otis had found a better paying job working for Pacific Electric Railway in Los Angeles. The family moved back when Gladys was less than one year old.

So Marilyn’s Mother Was Mexican?

Technically, yes. Marilyn’s mother was born to American parents in Mexico. However, some articles would have you believe that the family had been down there for years and were speaking Spanish. There is no evidence that they spoke Spanish, and, as Gladys was back in LA before her first birthday, it would seem unlikely. It’s also a myth that Marion, Gladys’ brother, was born there too – he was, in fact, born in Los Angeles in 1904.

All documentation* for Gladys in the years that passed have always stated that she was born in Mexico. This was not something that was ever hidden away. Nor is it something that fans of Marilyn have ever taken issue with. The fact is, neither Gladys, nor her family, ever integrated this Mexican heritage/culture into their lives. *all documentation below provided by April Chambers

Marilyn & Mexico, 1962

Some of you may say to me that by 1962 Marilyn was very much embracing her Mexican / Latina culture when she visited Mexico and bought a lot of furnishings and homeware to fit out her new house in Los Angeles. When Marilyn bought the hacienda in 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, she felt it reminded her of her psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson’s home. With that in mind, Marilyn decided to decorate the house in the same style as the Greenson’s had done theirs. There was no familial link. She just liked the style and wanted to do her own in the same way.

Didn’t Marilyn Date A Mexican?

When down in Mexico, Marilyn met José Bolanos. He was a writer/director at the time but was mostly known for being a playboy. There was no relationship between the two, but when Marilyn returned to Los Angeles and needed a date for The Golden Globes in 1962, it was Pat Newcomb who suggested they get Bolanos to escort Marilyn. The press had a field day suggesting Marilyn had a new lover in her life. However, after that “date” the two wouldn’t see each other again. A year after Marilyn’s death Bolanos told Motion Picture magazine that they were due to marry and adopt a child. These claims were never proven.

Why Does This Matter?

Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal, and it wouldn’t be an issue if it were true. However, looking at the records and the facts as we know them, it’s doesn’t appear to be true. If it is in fact, incorrect, it creates yet another false narrative about Marilyn and her life. Not only that, but it detracts from all the amazing Latina actresses from Old Hollywood who did amazing work! You can find out more about some of them here.