What’s with the ongoing fascination with Marilyn Monroe? How do you explain the enduring fame of an actress who died one hot August night 56 years ago? This new book provides some answers to those questions.
I really didn’t know much about Marilyn Monroe when I picked up this book and have never seen any of her movies. But what highs and lows in one short life! Such tragedy and heartbreak on the one hand and dizzying success and acclaim on the other.
The reader gets a good overview of the life of Norma Jeane Baker (her birth name), from her unbearably sad childhood, to her first tentative steps as a model and actress, and then success and fame beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
Favourite fact in this book about MM: When she was already a famous movie star, she left Hollywood to go to New York to study acting. She was determined to improve her craft and to earn respect for her acting ability. Gotta respect her for that.
I found it heartbreaking to read of MM’s decline. What a lost, troubled soul. She was desperately unsure of herself and her acting ability, drinking too much, downing sleeping pills every night, showing up late for work–or not at all. On top of all that, she feared growing old when so much of her fame and most of her self worth was based on her looks and sex appeal. Even if you didn’t already know the ending, at a certain point her self-destruction just seems inevitable.
There was one thing I didn’t like about this book. It focuses a lot on her last days and particularly her very last one. I found that rather ghoulish, not terribly interesting and also don’t believe her last days defined her as a person.
MM died August 5, 1962 at the age of 36 from a combination of sleeping pills and alcohol, whether suicide or accident is not known for sure.
WPL also has a TON of other books on Marilyn Monroe, as well as some of her movies.