Highlands & Islands

Search for Marilyn Monroe's Scots relatives begins

Marilyn Monroe Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Marilyn Monroe would have been 90 this month

An effort to find Scottish relatives of Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe has begun.

The actress's mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe, had ancestral links to Scotland, according to Clan Munro USA.

It believes that an ancestor of Monroe, an alternative spelling of the Scottish surname Munro, was a Highland soldier banished to America in the 1650s.

The society has offered free DNA test kits to Munro men of Highland origin in the hope of learning more.

The search was unveiled to coincide with what would have been Monroe's 90th birthday earlier this month. The star of Some Like it Hot died of an overdose at 36 in August 1962.

Last battle

Since the launch, Clan Munro USA - which is being assisted in its efforts by the Clan Munro Association in Scotland - has started receiving replies to its offer of DNA kits.

It will take several months to complete the testing and analyse the results.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Hollywood star could have cousins living in Scotland today, says Clan Munro USA

Clan Munro USA hopes to trace Monroe's Scottish roots through YDNA testing. The Y chromosome is only carried by men and is passed virtually unchanged from father to son.

The society has already tracked down and tested a living descendant of Monroe's great grandfather.

The results were compared to the others in its Munro DNA Project, a database of hundreds of samples provided by Munros living all over the world whose family trees have been studied.

The project includes the descendants of Munros from Easter Ross in the Highlands, also the fifth US president James Monroe and Scots soldiers who were imprisoned and then banished to Britain's America colonies after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

'Same characteristic'

Worcester was the last battle of the English Civil Wars and involved thousands of Scots combatants.

Texas-based Mark Monroe, of Clan Munro USA, said the YDNA test already done had shown that the Hollywood actress was a descendant of one of those soldiers, said to be a Highlander whose family came from Aldie, near Tain, in the Munro clan's Easter Ross stronghold.

Mr Monroe said: "The YDNA sample marker values matched with other YDNA samples in the Munro YDNA project that then tied her ancestry to a John Munro who settled in Bristol, Rhode Island, after being captured at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and banished to America."

"We do not know the ancestry of John Munro, but there are likely male Scots living today who have the same characteristic YDNA marker values and, thus, could prove to be cousins of Marilyn Monroe."

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