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Marilyn Monroe: The Biography

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  1,430 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Spoto's biography of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe makes use of over 150 interviews and more than 35,000 pages of previously sealed files, including Monroe's diaries, letters, and other personal and revealing documents. The book reveals new details of every aspect of her life, from her guarded childhood, and her relationships with men and marriages, to her mysterious death ...more
Paperback, 752 pages
Published July 17th 2001 by Cooper Square Press (first published January 1st 1993)
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Apr 26, 2010 A.H. rated it really liked it
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
J.V. Seem
May 19, 2012 J.V. Seem rated it it was amazing
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
I have never been an avid Monroe fangirl, but I admire a lot of her work. The movie Niagara, from which the cover image is taken, left a very memorable impression on me as a child, and was the first film of hers that I've seen. Some Like It Hot counts second of the top three in my all time favourites list (The Princess Bride holding eternally the #1 spot, and The Atonement closing the list at #3). After watching My Week With Marilyn a few months ago, I realised that, while I know these films by ...more
Aug 29, 2008 Amanda rated it really liked it
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
Jan 10, 2015 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jason Bergman
Sep 30, 2014 Jason Bergman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2012 Nisha-Anne rated it really liked it
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
Jun 16, 2008 Inessa rated it liked it
probably the most popular and most read biography of marilyn, but not the best
She told us more than once, ‘Hollywood will never forgive me—not for leaving, not for fighting the system—but for winning, which I'm going to do.’ -Susan Strasberg

What makes this solid biography the best choice to learn more about Marilyn Monroe is that it doesn't only tell the story of Norma Jeane/Marilyn Monroe, it also tells the story of those around her as well (starting from her grandparents, parents, relatives, husbands/boyfriends, friends, foes, associates, doctors, among many others). It
May 08, 2008 Jamie rated it it was amazing
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
Kaylie Caswell
Jan 25, 2016 Kaylie Caswell rated it it was amazing
Beginning with Norma Jean Baker's grandparents and traveling down the family line in an ongoing story of failed marriages and child abandonment, Spoto's biography not only tells the story of Marilyn Monroe's life but also the lives of those around her, including relatives, close friends, all three of the late movie star's husbands, and the neglectful doctors who contributed to her later health issues and possible even death with their bad advice. The book uses historical data, interviews with th ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Jacqui rated it liked it
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
Sep 27, 2008 ~¿?carly¿?~ added it
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
Heidi Garrett
Mar 16, 2015 Heidi Garrett rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Valeria Eremenciuc
A avut o viata fascinanta, intens mediatizata, dar din pacate destinul a facut sa plece prea devreme din aceasta lume...Viata scurta, intensa, cu iubiri tumultoase face pe multi sa vrea sa-i citeasca biografia.Am ales-o pe cea a lui Donald Spoto ca fiind mai bine documentata.Sunt fana Marilyn si mi-a placut cartea, este bine structurata, dar citind si din alte surse ma face sa cred ca finalul ei nu e tocmai cel descris de Spoto.Dupa mai bine de jumatate de secol, moartea ii ramane totusi un mist ...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.
Jul 30, 2015 Skye rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 09, 2008 Raya rated it really liked it
very in depth book that explores Monroe's career from the age of 16 to her death. Lots of interviews and theories.
Lee L.
Nov 16, 2016 Lee L. rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
It is hard to imagine the kind of painstaking research that went into creating this comprehensive work of exquisite detail. Spoto not only captures the unique essence of MM's engaging personality, he includes the minutiae of her life experiences to such a degree that even someone who did not grow up surrounded by her iridescent image would feel a part of this era. Especially interesting are the intricate details of her early life, which would later so greatly affect her vulnerable psyche.

Sarah Marie
Feb 12, 2017 Sarah Marie rated it really liked it
I was completely indifferent towards Marilyn Monroe when I started reading this, but ended up falling in love with her by the end. Donald Spoto does an excellent job of showing Marilyn as the kind, down to earth, all round lovely woman that she was. This was probably one of the best biographies I've ever read.
May 24, 2017 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sensible and thorough investigation of the testimony of witnesses and friends to the events of Marilyn's life and death. Comes up with the most compelling and reasonable conclusion about the circumstances of her death. Readable and reliable, this is really the definitive read if you are interested in where the truth lies, rather than gossip.
Mar 15, 2017 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
And what a life. A brilliant autobiography from an outstanding playwright, with so much to take from it.
Meryem Raitab
May 26, 2015 Meryem Raitab rated it it was amazing
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
Lawrence Kurniawan
Aug 21, 2016 Lawrence Kurniawan rated it really liked it
Extremely thorough and well researched biography. The writer provided evidences to factual details of MM's life when available. When not much was available, he presented clear, logically deduced stances to refute baseless claims made by nutcases like Robert Slatzer (who made a writing career & TV appearances from 1-2 photos of him with MM) and his cronies.

I feel that the writer wasn't biased and gave us a colorful depiction of MM's complex characters through her actions, writings, and inter
May 30, 2013 Mariah rated it really liked it
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
Dec 14, 2011 Shelbi rated it liked it
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.

Feb 06, 2010 Aimee rated it liked it
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
Merja Pohjola
May 11, 2010 Merja Pohjola rated it liked it
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
Aug 21, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star
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
Zita Černá
Jan 01, 2015 Zita Černá rated it really liked it
Shelves: knihy-u-táty
"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.

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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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