Rare Note From Marilyn’s Father Heads to Auction

Marilyn’s parents separated before she was born, and as a child, all she knew of her father was a name and a photograph. As a young woman, she was repeatedly frustrated in her efforts to build a relationship with her biological father. Then in April this year, a French-made documentary, Marilyn: Her Final Secret, produced DNA evidence matching her with descendants of Charles Stanley Gifford. And now, a greetings card from Gifford has been found among over 175 Monroe-related items set to go under the hammer in December as part of the annual Icons & Idols event at Julien’s Auctions.

Berniece Baker Miracle, Marilyn’s older half-sister, was the daughter of Gladys Monroe and her first husband, Jasper Baker. The sisters met for the first time when Marilyn was a teenager. In 1961, Marilyn invited Berniece to stay with her in New York as she recovered from gallbladder surgery. During this trip, Marilyn recalled meeting her father, as Berniece wrote in her 1996 memoir, My Sister Marilyn (co-written with daughter Mona Rae Miracle.)

“Marilyn had finally met her father. She brought up the subject of the meeting several times, beginning to talk, and then cut herself off, saying, ‘Oh, well …’ Sometimes she just let the thought fade away. Then it was a very tired ‘Well …’

‘I feel … it was a very important event in my life,’ Marilyn’s voice quavers. ‘I wouldn’t say it was exactly … happiness … that I felt. As far as my feelings towards him … I don’t think I can … express it, I guess. I guess … perhaps I’m not sure what the feeling was.

‘The first time I saw my father,’ she continues, her voice gathering energy, and perhaps resentment. ‘I was lying flat on my back in the hospital. I looked at him and I studied his face and features, and I saw that Mother had told me the truth, that he was my father.’

‘We talked … a long time,’ Marilyn speaks haltingly again. ‘I enjoyed talking with him.’

‘I don’t know how he came to be there, what the reason was that he finally revealed himself to her, whether he came on his own initiative, or whether she had asked him to come,’ Berniece admits. ‘She never got that far into the conversation … She gave me the impression that he was friendly but not particularly loving or affectionate toward her. It was a mutually pleasant meeting, and they spent the time talking about the past.’

‘I was pleased,’ says Marilyn with finality. ‘Oh, well …’

That is as much as she can express. In her hesitations, there is eloquent questioning. The meeting has resolved a lifelong quest, and yet it has not.

Berniece waits, her attention fixed.

‘It satisfied my curiosity … well …’ Marilyn cuts herself off once again.

Berniece struggles to form the right comment. ‘Did he …’

‘You must promise, Berniece, not to tell anyone who he is.’

‘I promise.’

‘On your word of honour.'”

Because the conversation with Berniece took place after a recent hospital stay, some have assumed the meeting with Marilyn’s father occurred in 1961. However, it seems somewhat unlikely that Gifford would have travelled to New York, whereas Los Angeles was much closer to his home near Palm Springs.

According to collector Scott Fortner, who discovered the card while acting as a consultant for the auction, the card most likely dates back to November 1954, when Marilyn had surgery at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles to relieve her endometriosis. The message on the card reveals little, but while their contact may have been limited, it’s good to know that Marilyn was finally acknowledged by her father.

“‘This card is the only known material artifact that establishes any connection or communication between Gifford and his famous daughter,’ reads a release, which also adds that it is believed Gifford hand-delivered the card to Monroe while she was in the hospital.

‘I discovered the card purely by chance while I was preparing Marilyn’s personal archives for auction at Julien’s Auctions,’ said Scott Fortner, Marilyn Monroe historian/collector and co-host of the All Things Marilyn podcast. ‘This is the only known documented evidence of a relationship between Monroe and Gifford, which solves the mystery of whether or not she knew or had contact with her biological father.’

The card — which Julien’s estimates will be sold for $2,000 to $3,000 — features art of a little girl standing on a music note on the front, with a handwritten note inside.

‘Dear Marylyn,’ begins Gifford’s message, with Monroe’s name spelled incorrectly, before the card’s pre-filled text reads, ‘This cheery little get-well note comes specially to say that lots of thoughts and wishes, too, are with you every day.’

Gifford ended with his own words — ‘a little prayer too’ — and signed the card, ‘Stanley Gifford, Red Rock Dairy Farm, Hemet, Calif.’

‘It is believed that Gifford did not want to upset his wife and children by allowing Monroe to be part of his life,’ the release says, of Monroe and Gifford’s strained dynamic.

Other items in Monroe’s collection include several beauty products — such as lipstick tubes, false eyelashes, eye shadows and more — that once belonged to the star, as well as several dresses owned and worn by Monroe, some with expected final bids of up to $80,000.

Those wishing to own a piece of Monroe history can also bid on various correspondence notes/letters, photos, her personal checkbook, her last Screen Actors Guild membership card and a medical file pertaining to cosmetic surgery Monroe had done that is expected to fetch up to $30,000.” – PEOPLE

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