Goddess : The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe Paperback
The classic, definitive biography of Marilyn Monroe, now updated in the year of the 50th anniversary of the iconic star's death She was born Norma Jeane but the world knew and loved her as Marilyn.
Her life was one of unprecedented fame and private misery, her death a tragedy surrounded by mysteries.
Drawing on first-hand interviews Anthony Summers offers both a classic biography and a shockingly revealing account of the screen goddess's relations with John and Robert Kennedy. 'The definitive story of the legend ...more convincing at every page - told with all the coldness of truth and the authority of the historian, but at the end of it we still love Marilyn' Maeve Binchy, Irish Times
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 688 pages, 16 b&w photos
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 10/08/2000
- Category: Films, cinema
- ISBN: 9780575403017
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Review by catfantastic
Anthony Summers provides an incredibly detailed biography of Marilyn Monroe's life and the mysteries surrounding her death. Summers conducted hundreds of interviews with Marilyn's friends and colleagues, and is careful to compare their various perspectives and to weigh each statement against other claims and known facts. The amount of research which went into this book is readily apparent, as Summers frequently provides quotations from articles and interviews that were conducted during Marilyn's life, and even includes reproductions of some letters and telegrams that she sent. Summers' voice is very professional - he is neither overly sympathetic nor overly critical of his subject, and the result paints a complex portrait of a woman who seemed to be a living mess of contradictions: she was obsessed with becoming a famous actress, but terrified of performing on set, she had an overwhelming need to be loved, but could not make any of her relationships last, she was famous as a sex goddess and yet, while she had many lovers, she rarely experienced orgasm. She was sometimes a shy little girl, Lauren Bacall described her as <i>"...frightened, insecure...During our scenes she'd look at my forehead instead of my eyes. ...Not easy, often irritating. And yet I couldn't dislike Marilyn, she had no meanness in her.."(p.118)</i> But she could be a bitchy prima donna, being chronically late, inventing reasons not to work and frustrating her co-stars. And despite an encyclopedic knowledge of health and the human body, she poisoned herself with drugs. Marilyn Monroe was far from a "dumb blonde" - she was constantly struggling to improve her skills and her mind, and devoured literature, history, philosophy and poetry. She adored children and animals, and cared deeply about poverty and civil rights. Yet she was so supersensitive that any hint of criticism was enough to grievously hurt her, and she was capable of discarding loyal friends and lovers in pursuit of her own interests. Summers' works to show each different facet of Marilyn's complex personality in this book - the result is intriguing and tragic. I also enjoyed the inclusion of various different impressions people had of Marilyn Monroe when they met her in person. For example, this highly magical and romantic description of seeing Marilyn in person came from Alice McIntyre of <i>Esquire</i> magazine:<i>"...like nothing human you have ever seen or dreamed. She is astonishingly white, so radically pale that in her presence you can look at others about as easily as you can explore the darkness around the moon. Indeed, there seems the awful possibility in the various phases of her person that MM is a manifestation of the White Goddess herself: disdaining all lingerie and dressed in tight, white silk emblazoned with countless red cherries, she becomes at once a symbol of impartial and eternal availability, who yet remains forever pure - and a potentially terrible goddess whose instinct could also deal death and whose smile, when she directs it clearly at you, is exquisitely, heartbreakingly sweet."</i> (p.259)