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Marilyn Monroe: The Biography

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  1,115 ratings  ·  87 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
Heidi Garrett
I wanted to read a "real" biography about Marilyn Monroe after reading Joyce Carol Oate's Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. The Spoto biography seemed solid. (There are so may biographies about Marilyn to choose from, but there seems to be a consensus that the one by Spoto is one of the more reliable ones.) Some of the read was a bit of a trudge, but Marilyn was definitely an interesting personality, and when you think that she died at 36, she accomplished an amazing amount in her short time on the planet. Her story has left ...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
A biography of astonishing depth. Reading this book cements my place as a fan-not of Marilyn Monroe the sex symbol, but of the woman, the 'little girl lost', who achieved so much as an actress despite a crippling insecurity, low self esteem, and little self worth. It is a shame that her abilities as an actress were not recognised or fully appreciated until after her death. From a personal perspective, I recognised certain aspects of her behaviour and character traits from my time as a foster car ...more
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
Can't believe I went through this thick book so quickly. It was amazing to read about the legendary Marilyn Monroe- other than being known for the famous white dress windy day shots, I didn't know much about her! It's such a tragedy though, that she died this way.

More thoughts later.
Meryem Raitab
Donald Spoto has successfully told the unforgettable stories of Marilyn Monroe. This novel has told of her adventures, her childhood, as well as a detailed explanation of the rising of her fame. Marilyn Monroe was a Hollywood icon, which Donald Spoto was able to illustrate using primary sources such as her Diaries, letters as well as other personal writings. From this novel, one understands Monroe had a pretty rough start. Marilyn was sequenced to foster homes, in which she was almost smothered ...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
Maria Mulrone
The first biography I ever read in my life during the summer of 1994...I was fifteen years old as I entered a bookshop on Streatham High Road and seen what looked like a lady illuminating in a white dress staring back at me. I purchased the book. That was that. I was hooked for life on a pursuit of finding out who was the real 'Marilyn'. I never did find out who was this Marilyn Monroe. But what I did learn from all her biographies, is that she was one of the most mysterious and beautiful women ...more
Larisa Millis
The ONLY biography of Marilyn Monroe worth reading.

It gets rid of all the rumors, innuendo, and down-right self-serving lies told about MM and her death. Only those sources which could be documented are sited- no Slatzer, no Carmine, no meetings which could've never occured, or secret best buddies appear. She died, like Michael Jackson, because she made the mistake of trusting a careless, ego-centered doctor. Period. So sad.
Johnny Midgey
"Jeden střep jsem si schovala do ruky a naznačila jim, že pokud mě nepustí, ublížím si. Ve skutečnosti bych se schválně nikdy nezmrzačila, na to jsem moc ješitná."

Zatímco Summers vykreslil Marilyn jako praštěnou feťačku, Spoto si dal záležet, aby ji popsal sice jako štětku, která se však stala obětí praštěnýho psychiatra. A to tak přesvědčivě, jako by nebylo pochyb, kdo a jak jí zabil, čímž naprosto rozprášil veškeré teorie o spojení s klanem Kennedyů. Takže musim najít další, novější knihu.

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
This is a very well done, thorough biography. I especially liked that the author gave background information on many of the people who came in and out of Marilyn's life. This is the only biography I've read about her so I can't compare it to others but if you want a concise account of Marilyn's life this is the one to read. I find the author's account of her life very accurate and backed by in-depth research. The explanation of her death is very believable and heartbreaking especially since it h ...more
Dorothy Ray
Not the best book on Marilyn!

Sad to think we will never know what really happened to Marilyn Monroe that fateful evening. Each author has their own scenario. I think the Kennedy's were more involved than this author admits to. Whatever the truth is and knowing we will probably never know the whole truth Marilyn's tale remains a sad and sorrowful one.
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
If you Marilyn Monroe fan - it's your book. You will read about beautiful, nice and sad person ( some sort of saint, if you like ). If you not, well, you not enjoy this book so much. It not bad book, thou. Easy to read and kinda interesting. But I think author lacking critical view.It's more like Marilyn Monroe biography from fan to other fans.
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
Like so many drawn to Marilyn, the story of a world class sex symbol who would really nothing more then to be loved. Yet denied at every turn in one fashion or another. This book was great at focusing not just on her but the world she interacted with.
By far one of the most thorough and extensive biographies I've ever read about Marilyn. Finally, a biography that puts aside the ludicrous rumors and fame-seeking tales and instead approaches her life exactly as it happened. He corroborates all of his information with multiple eye witnesses and testimony, making it a very detailed and introspective account. His gift of writing makes the story come to life and I found every page interesting.
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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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