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Marilyn Monroe: The Biography

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  971 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Marilyn Monroe Based on her personal archive of over 35,000 pages of documents, and extensive interviews with friends and colleagues, this biography of Marilyn Monroe rejects many myths about her childhood, her marriages and her relationships. It also offers evidence of the truth behind her death. Full description
Published June 2nd 1994 by Arrow (first published January 1st 1993)
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After reading that many Monroe fans thought this was the best biography available, I decided to take a look. What moved me to read this was probably nothing more than an interest built up on the fascination I've always had for Marilyn's public persona and the sadness that was always apparent to all. This book is certainly well-researched and thorough, and I appreciate that very much. Yes, there was a lot of detail on people who were not Marilyn, but it felt necessary and useful, to me. Not a lot ...more
Janne Varvára
Yes, it's true, I am a total Marilyn Monroe fangirl. I have, however, sometimes had a difficult time explaining why, exactly, she's such a role model for me as an actress.
As an actress, she was constantly underrestimated and type cast as the simple, blond bombshell, and she was terribly insecure about herself, her talent, art and appearance.
And perhaps it's simply that, that I can identify with her. I too, am in constant terror when I act, wishing for the approval, not so much of the audience, b
Jason Bergman
A solid biography of a complicated person. Spoto does an admirable job at dispelling many of the myths associated with Marilyn (some of which, to be fair, were created by the subject herself). While ultimately you're taking Spoto's word over others, his research appears to be thorough, so when he says there's absolutely no way Marilyn ever had an affair with Bobby Kennedy, I tend to believe him. As for his reconstruction of the events surrounding Marilyn's death, again, I think his research is s ...more
This is a pretty difficult book to review which is why I've put it off so long. I've read enough biographies to know I have to be careful which one I pick up and to make sure it's properly researched and respected. I read way too many wildly speculative biographies of James Dean before I came upon Donald Spoto's Rebel and finally could sigh some relief that here was one that properly acknowledged the lacunae and didn't just make shit up to fill in the gaps.

So I came to this, fully secure that Sp
Sep 06, 2008 Jamie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the biographical aspects of Marilyn Monroe
An incredibly informed, exhaustive, and compassionate biography of one of the most fascinating icons of all time. I've always been a bit of Marilyn-sympathizer, but this biography, I think, really reminded me what it is about not only her films but her life (and the myths that surround it) that has always captured my interest. And because of all the historical context Spoto locates her life within--most notably, the analysis of the so-termed "Golden Age" of Hollywood (not so golden, really)--I b ...more
Aug 29, 2008 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marilyn fans
Recommended to Amanda by: found it at the library
This book was so interesting to me. I'm a fan of Marilyn, of course, so alot of the stuff in this book really surprised me because I had never heard any of it before. This man, Spoto, who wrote it, researched her life heavily in order to get all the facts for himself and his writing style was, I found, very engaging. I've read through lots of other books about Marilyn but this one was without a doubt the very best one I've ever come across. I would warn any more sensitive readers that there are ...more
very in depth book that explores Monroe's career from the age of 16 to her death. Lots of interviews and theories.
probably the most popular and most read biography of marilyn, but not the best
Author Donald Spoto went into extensive detail on the life and mysterious death of female icon Marilyn Monroe in the biography, Marilyn Monroe: The Biography. The book is extremely lengthy, but one who briefly looks over the book can see how the pages provide photographs and text with information of Marilyn’s early life and her career. A majority of reviews written online by users who read the entire book agree that Spoto is effective in supporting his conclusions of Marilyn’s death with evidenc ...more
I've always had some respect for Spoto as a biographer of the film community but this is very ponderously written. He is quite good on MM having no sense of herself because she was always playing MM and was surrounded by those who discouraged her from developing her own self, but that is little excuse for the subject being so absent from her own biography.
If his thesis that Robert Slatzer and Jeanne Carmen did not actually know MM, let alone were her friends - that is good research. Spoto is obv
i'm giving this an amazing five stars because i learned so much from it. i didn't know much about MM before reading it and much of what i thought i knew was false - she wasn't shallow or histrionic and it's doubtful she intended to take her life. this seems to be an incredibly thorough account; i can see why some might think the book overlong, but i found it fascinating - the history of hollywood, the entertainment and mental health industries and their treatment and exploitation of women. this ...more
Lately, I have been quite torn in the books I have read. Donald Spoto is a wonderful biographer and quite thorough - I am quite excited to read even more from him. He paints a fascinating picture of this enigmatic woman, whom I (and most of society, really) am inexplicably entranced with. However, the more I read about her, the less interested I was in her. At the end of the day, she is just like any other celebrity - beautiful and selfish, with a lot of issues known and unknown to the public.

Bill Coe
I am not going to write a "review". I just wanted to say that I had read biographies of MM before but never one as complete as this, especially about her early childhood. Also Spoto does not pull any punches when it comes to the "professionals" she dealt with in her life. There can be little doubt in the end what did occur to MM and why. Very well researched and very well written. The short sad life of an American icon.
A book depicting the complete life of Marilyn Monroe, with bits of information of the people associated with her that dragged the story a little bit, took me few weeks to finish in between going to work and on my nights off. Revealing the truth of how she really died. But sometime while reading the book, i kind of hated her. I hated her for being a dupe! She allowed some people around her to use her fame and allowed herself to succumb to a deadly habit that ended up taking her life away without ...more
Laura Ellison
Spoto is to be commended as one of the greatest celebrity biographers; his astute observations of the minute details of his subject make his books a fascinating read and add another dimension to the person who he has painstakingly researched.

Having read almost every major biography of Monroe, I noted Spoto's well delivered research and his obvious dedication to his craft throughout. Monroe biographers often fall into the trap of sensationalising her life and in particular her childhood. It was i
Oct 05, 2008 ~¿?carly¿?~ added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marilyn Fans
I liked Marilyn Monroe before i read this book, now I love her and and hate her. I respect her but I dont. She was ambitious and insecure, truthfully blunt yet dishonest. Unlike most people these days that go around quoting Monroe without even knowing anything about her...i've actually seen a few of her films, Some Like It Hot, and Gentleman Prefer Blondes. i never did watch The Misfits, hearing that it wasnt very good. Now because of this book, i want to see how diasterous it really was.
The bo
Merja Pohjola
Decided to read the most important bios again to see if my opinion has changed. Despite some flaws, this still is a book to recommend. Next, I'll read Summers to get the opposite view... ;) Then Wolfe/Leaming (same year)... The others I remember pretty well... but we'll see. Some memoirs need to be read again.... btw... if I could give it 3,5 stars that is what I would give. But I just can't agree with some important issues, so IMO it doesn't merit more than that. As a bio, only Michelle Morgan ...more
I truly enjoyed reading this second about Marilyn Monroe. I found that Mr. Spoto was able to bring Marilyn to life with a sensitivity that lacked with the biography written about her by her ex-husband, Arthur Miller. I wasn't too keen on Mr. Spoto's viewpoint on religion but then I understand his viewpoint considering the people who represented religion in Marilyn's story lacked greatly. I have always loved the vulnerability that Marilyn brought to the screen....particularly in Bu ...more
Eileen Granfors
Having just read THE PRECIOUS FEW DAYS about the final year of Jack and Jackie Kennedy, I became interested in the relationship (if there was one) of Jack with Marilyn Monroe. Spoto's book provides background on her sad childhood, the making of a star, and the beginning of the downfall as Marilyn uses more and more drugs. Throughout the book, the author's sympathy and admiration for Marilyn are apparent. It is as if he hopes to dispel the common belief of "dumb blond" and sex kitten.

An interesti
Steve Melton
Nov 29, 2011 Steve Melton rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Marilyn and Old Hollywood
Really enjoyed this book. A very interesting into not only the events that made her the star she was but those events' effects on her. A very interesting look into how Norma Jeane became Marilyn and how she interacted with the world. Reading this can not help but ive you an appreciation for who she was and what she did.

Honest without being salacious, reading this book I felt I was getting the truth of all the rumors, from affairs to her death. These are the things that drew me to the book, but w
This is, hands down, the best biography of Marilyn Monroe. It is well researched and thoroughly documented. Mr. Spoto does an excellent job of dispelling the rumors and untruths surrounding Marilyn and giving support for his own theories. He paints a complex portrait of a complex woman. He does not engage in hero worship, nor does he attempt to trash her name. This meticulously researched and incredibly detailed book, might not be for the casual fan, but if you're looking for a clear understandi ...more
Karen Weatherwax
Very interesting and informative. This biography dispels some of the most prevalent and destructive myths about Marilyn Monroe.
Laura Beth
Supposed to be one of the best researched and msot accurate biographies and it certainly presents itself as such - dismissing many of the more sensational rumours and building up to Spoto's theory on her mysterious death. He even identifies discrepencies / unreliable resources in other biographies. In addition, this is the best biography that I've read so far in getting the real background and history on people who were influencial in her life - in particular her early years prior to beginning t ...more
Elizabeth Periale

"For the most part, Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, doesn't disappoint. If it does nothing else, Spoto's meticulous research does seem to debunk once and for all the highly unlikely claims of Robert Slatzer, who has told anyone and everyone who would listen about his three-day "marriage" to the star. Spoto points out how other biographers, like Anthony Summers have used Slatzer as a credible source and have allowed the cult of mis-information about Marilyn
This book is full of interesting details about MM's life, and quotes I've never heard before from those who knew her. I enjoyed reading it, and believe that much of the information is good. However, Spoto's notion that MM's housekeeper, who she had fired, was the one who administered the fatal enema is ludicrous. Obviously, there was some sort of malpractice between MM's drug-peddling doctors, and her housekeeper (who worked for her doctor, Greenson) probably helped them keep it quiet, but who k ...more
I did like this, but it wasn't a wow. I did some research before choosing this biography and it is apparently the least biased out there (and spends the afterward discrediting the conspiracy theories surrounding her death, in particular the Bobby Kennedy-murder one). And I connected with the very human struggle of a women who felt a total disconnect between her outside persona and her insides, and who was so afraid of being abandoned she felt her beauty and sex appeal where the only things valua ...more
Believe me when I say that I have read LOTS of books on Marilyn Monroe and so it is with this knowledge that I say, if one is going to read a book about MM this one tends to stick to documented facts, interviews with MM's closest friends and co workers, receipts and recorded dates and does not rely on crazy conspiracy theories. However, those do get a mention but only in the Afterword and are mentioned so the reader knows HOW these conspiracy theories came to life.
Overall, great book. Great fact
This book was well researched and very well written. There are so many biographies on Monroe that it's hard to pick one that isn't completely biased, this one however, is definitely a great option for anyone looking to get to know Marilyn a little better. Although I thought that this book had a tendency to drag on in certain parts, it was definitely worth the time investment. It's an easy read and gives the reader a refreshing portrait of one of the most popular yet complex women in history.

Growing up with the image of Marilyn Monroe and her sudden death, I was always fascinated by her and how unreal she was. This well-researched biography dispels many, many untruths such as liaisons with Robert Kennedy and mafia connections. The book chronicles how astute Marilyn was and also how low her self esteem was. Its a recipe for disaster. It uncovers some provocative reasons for her death -- chief among them is the obsession her Freudian psychoanalyst had with her.
I skipped the foot notes and the Appendix. This was an amazingly through analysis of MM's life. I only read it because I had it and I was waiting for the new Follett book, otherwise I may not have.
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A prolific and respected biographer and theologian, Donald Spoto is the author of twenty published books, among them bestselling biographies of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Alfred Hitchcock, Tennessee Williams, and Ingrid Bergman. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Donald Spoto earned his Ph.D. in theology at Fordham University. After years as a theology professor, he t ...more
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