The Lunatic's Daughter

Aug. 5 - Tomorrow marks the one-week anniversary of Molli coming home. By astonishing coincidence, it also marks the one-week anniversary of my last good night's sleep.

* * *

Norma J. Mortenson was born on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles. Her mother was insane, her father unknown. After her mother's institutionalization, Norma lived in foster homes and orphanages until 1937, when she was taken in by one of her crazy mother's friends. Five years later that woman's husband was transferred to the east coast (there was a war on), and the couple couldn't afford to bring the girl with them. To avoid returning to the orphanage, the now 18-year-old Norma married a boy named Jimmy Dougherty. He joined the Merchant Marines and was shipped out to the Pacific in 1944.

While he was away Norma got a job on the assembly line of a Burbank munitions factory. One day a photographer from "Yank" magazine came to the factory to take pictures for a piece on beautiful young factory workers with insane mothers. When the magazine was published, Norma's pictures were extremely well received. This quickly led to a successful career of letting people take pictures of her.

Returning from the war in 1946, Jimmy asked Norma what the hell kind of woman served meatloaf without mashed potatoes. She divorced him and signed a contract with Twentieth Century Fox.

She earned $125 per week, which was not bad for the divorced, factory-working daughter of a madwoman. It wasn't quite enough for Norma, however, so she dyed her hair blonde and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe didn't do much better than Norma Jeane Baker until 1950, when she was given the role of Claudia Caswell in All About Eve. This led to bigger and bigger film roles and enabled her to begin dating baseball legend Joe DiMaggio in 1952. Upon the release of Niagara in 1953 she became an actual star, enabling her to marry him in 1954.

They divorced nine months later, in part because Marilyn was always lifting her weary eyes and asking Joe where he'd gone.

From this point forward she appeared only in famous movies. Two years later she married playwright Arthur Miller. She divorced him in 1961 and spent the rest of her short life Artlessly.

Forty-two years ago today she died of natural causes, aggravated by sleeping pills, in her Brentwood home.

* * *

The federal government levied an income tax for the first time on this date in 1861.

* * *

August 5 is also the birthday of Patrick Ewing (1962), Loni Anderson (1946), Neil Armstrong (1930), and John Huston (1906). It's also my mother's birthday, but I won't reveal her age.

It's Thanksgiving in Croatia, Independence Day in Jamaica, Flag Day in Japan, Discovery Day in Trinidad and Tobago, and Colorado Day in the state of that name.

Happy Thursday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

[close window]
[Daily Briefing Archive]