Marilyn, her father finally identified

Marilyn Monroe never knew her biological father. To reveal his secret, researchers pored over stolen locks of hair. 60 years after his death, this enigma has just been solved thanks to the prowess of genetics. The documentary, “Marilyn, the last truth” follows a thrilling scientific investigation to find Charles Stanley Gifford, his biological father and his new family who still lives in the United States. Discover our exclusive story in the latest issue of Paris Match, on sale on newsstands.

Marilyn Monroe will search for her biological father all her life, in vain. A source of trouble, of suffering which will feed the faults of the actress. Because deep down, the most famous sex symbol in modern history is convinced that one of her mother’s lovers, the only one she will see a picture of, is her parent. This is Charles Stanley Gifford, born in 1898. At the time a foreman at Consolidated Films, he had an affair with Gladys Monroe in 1925. Their daughter was born on 1er June of the following year. The man full of arrogance will refuse to meet Marylin when in 1951, the star in the making embarked his theater teacher for a trip to the Californian desert. Sending her back to her painful questions as an abandoned child.

In France, in 2018, François Pomès is looking for an idea on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of the Monroe icon. He then launches into the resolution of the enigma of his father. As in any treasure hunt, the research has been punctuated with false leads and disappointed expectations. It was without counting on the stubbornness of the producer-director. After unsuccessful attempts, he decides to focus on the only viable chance: the hair. He buys several from collectors and sends his findings to a Texas laboratory. The sequencing begins and the results come in. The hair is that of a young woman from Central Asia. “We were taken around by phony collectors,” recalls François Pomès, without however despairing. He continues his quest. Collector John Reznikoff sold him eight hairs for several thousand dollars. Of the eight, five belonged to Marilyn’s hairdresser, Robert Champion. The “Champion Five” land at the lab in Huntsville, codenamed “Hair Girl.” Again, another disappointment. No readable DNA.

What’s next after this ad

The secret of the biggest star of world cinema finally unlocked

The resolution of the enigma therefore rests on the three remaining hairs, captured by an undertaker during the first mortuary care of Marilyn Monroe, on August 5, 1962. “A mine, because these three hairs were little or not touched , passing from the hands of the embalmer to those of Reznikoff”, can we read in the number 3807 of Paris Match. Head to the Center for Anthropobiology and Genomics in Toulouse, a CNRS laboratory among the best in the world for deciphering ancient DNA. Ludovic Orlando, a big guy, then warns Pomès: “we have 5% DNA, it’s not a lot but it’s usable. After a long hunt to find a member of the Gifford clan, Francine, the granddaughter of the mute patriarch, lets herself be sampled for DNA. Disillusionment. Francine and “Hair Girl” do not match. Orlando suspects a false negative. He changes his methodology, and there… Bingo! The DNAs match. François Pomès has just unlocked the secret of the biggest star in world cinema.

Broadcast of “Marilyn, the last truth” on Wednesday May 11, at 8:40 p.m., on the whole history channel and on myCanal.

Also find the exclusive interview with Francine Gifford Deir, Marilyn’s niece.