Maria D. Valderrama/EFE
More than three years has taken the Frenchman François Pomès, producer and director of documentaries, to come up with the challenge that he had set himself to honor Marilyn Monroe on the 60th anniversary of the actress’s death: to discover, through the most cutting-edge analysis, who was his father.
“I think one of the fissures that makes Marilyn’s destiny what it was is the absence of her parents. And more particularly that of her father,” Pomès says in an interview with EFE days before the premiere, on May 11. , from his film “Marilyn Monroe, la dernière vérité” (Marilyn Monroe, the last truth).
The news was advanced at the end of April by the magazine Paris Match, which exclusively carried photos of a mysterious man as well as the artist’s hair that had allowed her DNA to be recovered and compared with the descendants of this man. His name: Charles Stanley Gifford.
Pomès, co-founder of the production company specializing in science documentaries and Ancient Egypt Label News, says he has been fascinated by the figure of Monroe since he was a child, when his parents used to take him to see classic movies. Her first memory of her on screen is “Some Like It Hot”, which piqued her curiosity about her blonde temptation.
“Three or four years ago I thought about how I could mark this anniversary. There are many documentaries about Marilyn and hundreds of biographies and I wanted to contribute something different. I realized that only one piece of information was missing: the identity of her biological father,” says Pomès. .
A laboratory in Texas (United States) and another in Toulouse (France) analyzed several hairs without knowing their origin: some came from Monroe’s hairdresser, who cut them the day in 1962 when she sang happy birthday to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and another lock was collected by the man who embalmed the actress after her death from an accidental overdose of barbiturates that same year.
After two years of tests, only the Toulouse laboratory, with the scientist specializing in anthropobiology Ludovic Orlando at its head, managed to recover 22% of the actress’s genome from 5% of DNA remains that remained in the hair.
Pomès acknowledges that the find is very lucky. Finding human remains in rootless hair is extremely difficult. But what was obtained was enough to make the comparison with the descendants of Gifford. “It was positive… bingo!” says the producer.
A CHILDHOOD OF ABANDONMENT
At her birth, Norma Jeane Mortenson, her real name, was registered under the surname of her mother’s ex-husband, Gladys Pearl Baker.
Baker had had several romantic relationships in 1925 and never told Monroe who her father really was, but the actress always kept the photo of a mysterious man, with a mustache, fedora and trench coat, which she hung on the wall of her room as if It was about Clark Gable.
Monroe spent her childhood in foster families and orphanages, as her mother was often hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals.
When she was successful, she tried to locate and visit Gifford, owner of the photo developing lab where Baker had been working, but he never wanted to meet her. “That was very violent for her,” says Pomès.
The blonde temptation, one of the best known icons of pop culture and only years after her death claimed as a great actress and not just a “sex symbol”, was the result of an accidental “affair”.
“Monroe was built without her parents. Her father never knew her. And in the Hollywood of the time growing up without a father and without a mother was complicated. Some cracks in Marilyn are linked to this abandonment, to that family framework that she did not have,” he considers the director of the film, barely 50 minutes long.
22% of the Monroe genome found is kept in a computer safe. Her analysis could allow us to raise other unknowns about the actress: her ancestry, her predisposition to suffer from certain diseases or depression, or what she could have died of had it not been for the overdose.
“It would be opening Pandora’s box. But we won’t do it… unless other networks want to make a documentary about what it could reveal,” Pomès anticipates with an intriguing smile.
French television will reveal the entire investigation on Wednesday on the Toute l’Histoire channel, before the report is broadcast in June in countries such as Belgium, Israel, Croatia and Spain.