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    Marilyn Monroe Selected Bibliography

    Marilyn Monroe is the most written about actress in the world. From the first books in the 1950’s to the present the list is endless and new books are published all the time. This is not always a good thing as the quality of books often becomes poor depending on the knowledge and agenda of the person writing the book. Here is a collection of carefully chosen titles that bring you the very best Marilyn Monroe biographies of the past sixty years. This is my perfect Ten! by Fraser Penney for Immortal Marilyn

    1. Will Acting Spoil Marilyn Monroe? (1956)

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    Over the years there have been many attempts to piece together the fragments of Marilyn’s life. One of the first books was by Pete Martin who met and worked with Marilyn on this book using many of Marilyn’s own ideas and thoughts. It’s Norma Jeane talking about Marilyn with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a fan club president and the steel-trap objectivity of a critic.

    2. Marilyn Monroe (1961)

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    Maurice Zolotow began writing articles about Marilyn from the mid 1950’s onwards and published his book the year before her death. In the fifty so years since Marilyn’s passing this book remains accurate and rivals many of the 100’s of books published in the time since.

    3. The Films of Marilyn Monroe (1964)

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    It starts off with a touching tribute from Lee Strasberg, Marilyn’s acting mentor, in the form of the personal eulogy he read at her funeral. Followed by a brief but informative biography by Mark Harris and essay by Michael Conway tracing Marilyn’s career against the background of her times.

    Each of the films in this book is represented with a synopsis, cast, credits, film stills, of which there are many and reviews; in particular any notices Marilyn received for her screen time are included.

    This is an essential reference book to anyone interested in viewing Marilyn’s films, it’s easy to read and a fitting tribute to her body of work and is respectful to her accomplishments as a comedienne and how she was developing into a fine dramatic actress too.

    4. Norma Jean (1969)

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    This was the first book I ever had on Marilyn, it is like a Bible to me. I always have it at hand. I think because of the time it was written, it’s style and wording really reflect the era and Marilyn’s story comes to life in context of her times. You empathise with this driven young woman who seemed to “have it all” and tragically had nothing. The lonely childhood and increasingly isolated adult years of her life are presented against the backdrop of a world that idolised her without sympathising with her. The book is a great read for feminist, film buffs, Marilyn fans and anyone interested in Twentieth century American culture.

    Fred Lawrence Guiles began his book on Marilyn while she was still alive and published articles after her death. In the 1960’s there were left wing writers with political agendas that started to link Marilyn with men in politics in an attempt to slander them. One of them Frank A. Capell, published a book called ‘The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe’ and Guiles has been influenced by this toward the end of his book without naming names. This tarnishes the book slightly but if you can ignore all that then what you have got is one of the best biographies ever written about anyone.

    5. Marilyn A Very Personal Story (1974)

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    How refreshing of Norman Rosten to write of Marilyn, not as a sexual conquest, former lover or casual acquaintance but as her friend, the Marilyn who was someone’s wife, a stepmother, a pet-lover, a lonely, at times insecure woman. Here we are a witness to an ordinary woman, whose fame and choice of career made her at the same time an extraordinary person, and yet the real person is able to shine through, faults and all.

    While the book is brief, it is an interesting insight into her life during her marriage to Arthur Miller and the last seven years of her life. It includes some of her poetry which shows signs of her spontaneity and originality. There’s a small picture section which has some private photos and couple of ‘public’ ones.

    6. My Story (1974)

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    Written at the height of her fame for a series of magazine articles in the mid-50’s with the help of Ben Hecht, this was Marilyn’s first attempt to tell her own story. At the time the idea was abandoned and most of it would remain unpublished for nearly 20 years when it was then published as a book for the first time, over a decade after her death.

    It’s Marilyn’s autobiography & poignantly recounts her childhood as an unwanted orphan, her early adolescence, her rise in the film industry from bit player to celebrity, and her marriage to Joe DiMaggio.

    7. Marilyn Monroe Private And Undisclosed (2007)

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    It took a long time and a lot of attempts to get to this one, which in my view is the best biography in over 40 years. Not since Fred Lawrence Guiles’ “Norma Jean,” which I have always held in high regard, has there been such a book. In fact, I have enjoyed Michelle Morgan’s style of writing so much I’d say it even eclipse’s Guiles work!

    Each chapter covers a period in Marilyn’s life and is like a short story in itself. I found myself going back and re-reading chapters I enjoyed the most and also because of this it’s a good source of reference for clarifying incidents and dates. Michelle has been lucky enough to count among her sources, people who were there at the time and were a privy to what was happening behind the scenes.

    Marilyn Monroe: Private And Undisclosed is an honourable and respectful portrait of the woman who came to define Hollywood glamour, stardom, female sexuality who had many human qualities, but at the same time could be difficult, complex and her own worst enemy. It’s the most compelling account of the life of Marilyn Monroe yet and it’s the one book everybody should read if they want to read about the real person and the truth.

    8. Fragments (2010)

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    Arthur Miller once described Marilyn as “a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.”

    “Fragments,” a book of her poems, letters and musings, written in her own hand. The world’s most coveted woman, a picture of luminescence, was lonely and dark. Thinking herself happily married, she was crushed to discover an open journal in which Miller had written that she disappointed him and embarrassed him in front of his intellectual peers. “I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really.”

    Some may feel that the book is quite intrusive because of the personal content but at the same time it does give us a deeper understanding of the woman behind the image, her hopes and fears. Her fans have always been aware of this side of her personality and hopefully with this book the secret is out; Marilyn was no dumb blonde and indeed we see a real depth to her character, creative, intelligent, a bookworm with a flair for poetry herself! Not really how the public pictures Marilyn Monroe.

    Her poems are, by far, the heart of the book. She describes the human spirit as

    a “cobweb in the wind”; a sleeping lover’s vulnerability is tenderly captured; a suicide fantasy turns on itself to celebrate the beauty of a world that Monroe is not ready to leave. Her depression, her romantic spirit, her impenetrable loneliness is all there, and these poems could have been published on their own.

    This has to be one of the most amazing books on Marilyn ever. It’s a real insight into the person she was away from the blinding flashbulbs and movie

    cameras. She was so much more than she appeared to be. And that makes the tragedy of her short life all the more heart-breaking.

    9. Marilyn Monroe Metamorphosis (2011)

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    Marilyn Monroe worked with 100’s of photographers in her career and over the years dozens of photographic books have been compiled by the likes of Andre de Dienes, Milton Greene and Ed Feingersh. Some of their work is included here along with famed photographers such as Cecil Beaton and Richard Avedon to form a cornucopia of photos that tell Marilyn’s life story in pictures.

    David Wills has brought us arguably the greatest collection of Marilyn photos to date from as early as 1942. He has worked tirelessly sourcing transparencies and contact sheets to bring together a history of Marilyn’s life from the early 1940’s to 1962. What is striking about the book is the quality of the prints as they’ve been processed using the most up to date technology giving them a sense of freshness and crisp newness with vibrant colours and life like clarity. David had access to 100s of files and found that the best of the images were the ones already chosen to be released at the time when they were first published and he felt that it was important to use these classic images that are now in some ways iconic, as they show Marilyn at her best. He felt it unnecessary to include shots that had been considered “out-takes,” or that were slightly inferior. With this in mind he also thought about younger readers who don’t have big collections of photos and are just discovering Marilyn with this book, which I would say easily replaces those published up until now and that are now out of print and hard to find. But there are some ‘new’ photos which have never been published in books before, so there’s something for the die-hard fan to enjoy who has everything. When asked about her feelings regarding the millions of fans that followed her and supported her success, Marilyn said, “The least I can do is give them the best they can get from me. What’s the good of drawing in the next breath if all you do is let it out and draw in another?” Indeed, as we see the proof here, Marilyn gave her best during at every stage of her

    very short career.

    10. Marilyn In Fashion (2012)

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    In a recent interview, Eva Longoria named Marilyn Monroe as her ultimate style icon, she says, ”Marilyn Monroe had that certain something. She never changed her look, and even after her death that blonde hair with the red lips is still glamorous and beautiful. But it’s also what she exuded - she was electrifying and you couldn’t wait to see what she did next and who she was with. She just had this essence about her that was beautiful.”

    In this beautifully crafted book by Christopher Nickens and George Zeno, we go far beyond the blonde hair and red lips to take delight in learning the secrets that made Marilyn one of the most stylish ladies of all time as Marilyn in Fashion traces the style evolution of Hollywood’s golden girl in the world of haute couture to the simple every day inexpensive clothes that could be worn by anyone.

    Marilyn’s ability to spot up-and-coming designers made her a fashion visionary. Before they were household names, she wore Ferragamo pumps, carried Louis Vuitton bags, and donned the designs of Norman Norell, Emillio Pucci, and Lanvin.

    The book is divided into two parts, with the first part focusing on the designers and their history with Marilyn, from films to public appearances, the second part is

    on hair; makeup; hats; overcoats; off the rack, and even a chapter on what she wore in England! Brilliantly documented each section is lavishly illustrated with

    photographic evidence and fine details.

    A great book to end on with Marilyn’s enduring style still a big influence in the world of fashion today.

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