5 Things You Don’t Know About Marilyn Monroe

This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe‘s death–a death that writer J.I. Baker, says remains one of the biggest and most puzzling mysteries of the 20th century. In his new novel, The Empty Glass, Baker weaves together fact and legend to create a thriller that will question everything you thought you knew about the star’s passing. As a tribute to Marilyn, we asked Baker to give us a few little-known facts about her. See if you’ve heard any of these…

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1. Marilyn Monroe may have had an affair with Albert Einstein. 
In the late 1940s, the actress Shelley Winters shared an apartment with Marilyn Monroe—and in her autobiography, Winters claimed that Monroe had hinted about a dalliance with the genius.

2. Marilyn Monroe once thought that the actor Clark Gable was her father.
Monroe’s mother had a picture of a man she had once dated on her wall. “He had a thin moustache like Clark Gable,” Monroe remembered. “I asked my mother what his name was. She wouldn’t answer.” In 1935, Monroe went to see a movie called China Seas, starring Gable and Jean Harlow—and from that point onward Gable became “the man I thought was my father,” Monroe said.

3. Marilyn Monroe had to be literally sewn into her famous beaded “Happy Birthday, JFK” gown.
When Monroe stepped onto the stage at Madison Square Garden to sing “Happy Birthday” to the president on May 19, 1962, she tossed the fur off her shoulders—and there were gasps from the crowd; people thought that she was nude. She may as well have been: Afterward, Adlai Stevenson said, “I don’t think I had ever seen anyone so beautiful as Marilyn Monroe that night. She was wearing skin and beads. I didn’t see the beads!”

4. Marilyn Monroe’s mother was institutionalized as a paranoid schizophrenic.
Mental illness ran in Monroe’s family; her maternal grandmother killed herself. Her mother (Gladys Eley) was hospitalized in Rockhaven, an upscale sanitarium, when Marilyn died. Eley was a devoted, if not obsessive, Christian Scientist. When asked about her famous daughter, she said, “I have never heard of Marilyn Monroe.”

5. Marilyn Monroe pretended to be a woman named Zelda Zonk.
To avoid being recognized, she would wear a dark wig and sunglasses. She seemed able to transform into Marilyn Monroe, the character she had created, at will—but when she wanted to avoid this, she became “a normal” person through Zelda.

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August 6, 2012. August.

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