It was never easy being Marilyn Monroe, especially for the girl behind the name, Norma Jean Mortensen. And it was also not easy being Norma Jean Mortensen.
She was born in 1926 and grew up in foster homes until she was seven. Her mother, Gladys, was not a mentally stable woman, and her father was not around – and exactly who he even was remained opaque.
Norma eventually went to live with her mother when she was seven – and her mother then had a breakdown. Norma was then made a state ward, and sent to an orphanage.
Gladys refused to allow Norma to be adopted.
There then followed a miserable sequence of further foster homes and placements with guardians and relations, where she was subjected to very ill treatment.
This culminated in what amounted to an arranged marriage to Jim Dougherty, the son of a neighbor, when she was 16, in order to avoid foster care.
It must have then come with no small amount relief when, at aged 20, she was handed her new identity by 20th Century Fox, the film studio with whom she was now engaged.
These photographs were taken during Norma’s childhood, before there was such a person as Marilyn Monroe.