How did Charles Stanley Gifford die? His life and death detailed

Marilyn Monroe had an unstable life growing up, rarely settling with one set of parents. It’s part of the reason Monroe so badly wanted children – to give them the parental love she unfortunately missed. Monroe had male figures in her life but never had a father figure. 

Monroe deduced that Martin Edward Mortensen, the man her mother was married to when Marilyn was born, wasn’t her biological father. Through consultations with her mom’s friends, she discovered that her father was Charles Stanley Gifford. Charles and her mom, Gladys Pearl Baker, had a brief affair that led to her conception in 1925. 

Charles was born in the late 1890s in Newport, Rhode Island. He met Gladys Pearl Baker at Consolidated Studios, where he was an executive, and she worked as a film negative cutter. 

Gladys was still married to Edward Mortensen, but their relationship had crumbled. Gifford was also legally married but awaiting divorce from his wife, Lilian. Charles and Gladys began a brief affair that led to Norma Jean’s conception. Norma later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. 

Gifford, who became a Hollywood director and producer, was absent in Marilyn’s life. After retiring from Hollywood, he became a dairy farmer, selling pasteurized milk to locals and ice cream makers. “The business was doing well,” Charles’ granddaughter, Francine, told Paris Beacon. Stanley reportedly named each calf the first name of one of his grandchildren.  

Charles Stanley Gifford died of a heart attack in 1965, having never met Marilyn Monroe. 

After discovering her father’s identity, Marilyn called Charles. James Dougherty, Marilyn’s first husband, listened to the heartbreaking conversation. He said:

“She got on the phone and she looked up his number and she called him. He wouldn’t recognize her. He said, ‘No, I don’t know who you are. See my attorney.’”

“She was real sad,” James said. Marilyn wasn’t famous when she called Charles the first time. After becoming a Hollywood success, Marilyn reached out to Charles again, perhaps hoping her fame would change his mind. Sadly, Charles rebuffed Monroe again. 

“In the 1950s, when she was already famous, Marilyn went to see my grandfather in Hermet, California, but he refused her,” Francine said. Some reports claim that Monroe met Charles at the Red Rock drive-through that he owned. 

Monroe’s friend Sidney Skolsky revealed that Marilyn once asked her to drive the movie star to Palm Springs, where Charles ran his dairy farm. 

Although Charles didn’t admit it, Francine said he regretted refusing to acknowledge Marilyn. She said: “He had two other children but his daughter Elizabeth died of illness at the age of 13. For him to have lost another daughter is dreadful, especially as Marilyn also passed away before he did.”

She speculated that, with familial support, maybe Monroe’s life could have gone differently. “Maybe her fate would have been different if she’d belonged to a family like ours,” Francine said. “Maybe she would have been stronger. We’ll never know.”

A comparison of DNA from Marilyn’s hair and DNA from Charles’ descendants confirmed he was her father. Francois Promes, the creator of the documentary Marilyn, Her Final Secret, said scientists drew up Marilyn’s genetic profile from a DNA fragment in her hair. Francine and her daughter, Lisa, provided cheek swab samples.