Marilyn loved children. She went out of her way to befriend and play with the children of people she knew. Newly married Norma Jeane, barely out of childhood herself, fed, bathed, and played with the nephews and nieces of first husband James Dougherty. Soon after landing her first film contract, Marilyn confided to fellow actress Clarice Evans that she wanted to have four children, two her own and two adopted. Later she was indulgent with the children of many of the important people in her life: Fred Karger’s child, Joe DiMaggio’s son, Arthur Miller’s children, the offspring of the Strasbergs, and of her psychoanalyst, Dr. Ralph Greenson.
Long after the relationships had ended with her former husbands, Marilyn was still in close touch with the step-children she acquired through marriage. In 1962 she told a reporter from Redbook magazine just how important Joe DiMaggio Jr., and Jane and Robert Miller were to her: “I take a lot of pride in them. Because they’re from broken homes too, and I think I can understand them. I’ve always said to them that I didn’t want to be their mother or stepmother and such….I just wanted to be their friend….I can’t explain it, but I think I love them more than I love anyone.”
That she suffered medical problems or fertility problems and was unable to have children of her own was a great source of sadness. In the last year of her life Marilyn was asked what she wanted, more than anything else. She replied, “The thing I want more than anything else? I want to have children. I used to feel for every child I had, I would adopt another.” Makeup man and confidant Allan Snyder remembered, “She loved children so much - my daughter, other people’s children - she went for them all. If she’d had one of her own to care for, to grow up with, I’m sure it would have helped her immensely.”
In 1957, after miscarrying in the early stages of a pregnancy, Marilyn often went to a small park near her New York apartment, where she sat on a bench and watched the children play. She struck up a friendship with one of the young mothers in particular, a young Israeli woman called Dalia Leeds, and asked her about everything she could think having to do with pregnancy and motherhood. Leeds found she was “not glamorous, but just an ordinary woman who was shy, curious and lonely.” She played with the children too. The kids adored her, and even after they had discovered the name of the woman who came to the park wrapped up in a head scarf and dark glasses, the mothers enjoyed her company and interest.
Although Marilyn did not have her own offspring, she did leave a legacy to children: money she left in her will to psychiatrist Marianne Kris was used to set up the Monroe Young Family Unit in London.
Over the years a number of people have come forward claiming to be Marilyn’s long-lost child. Marilyn supposedly told at least three people (Robert Slatzer, Jeanne Carmen, and Amy Greene) that she had a child when she was still a teenager, either just before or just after her marriage to Jim Dougherty, but was forced to give the baby up for adoption. Amy Greene has said that Marilyn felt her inability to have children in later life was a punishment for this earlier mistake. A similar assertion that Norma Jeane gave birth in her early teens was also made by Marilyn’s former New York maid Lena Pepitone, in her book Marilyn Monroe Confidential, though in this case the father was an unnamed “foster parent” who raped her.
In 1986 a woman called Nancy Green told lawyer Lawrence Cusack that she was Marilyn’s long lost daughter, and subsequently changer her last name to Miracle. Cusack said that at the time he dismissed Green as a fabulist.
It is highly unlikely that in her starlet years Marilyn would have risked a pregnancy - her contract with Twentieth Century-Fox would have been cancelled the moment such a thing was discovered. Stories of her having a child after she became famous - a woman called Janet Raymond once claimed she was Marilyn’s daughter, born during her 1952 visit to hospital for an appendectomy - have never been corroborated. Claims that Marilyn had an abortion just two weeks before her death are also unsubstantiated and seem particularly unlikely in the light of how much she wanted a child of her own.