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Marilyn Monroe

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,557 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Based on new interviews and thousands of primary documents, Leaming's critically acclaimed biography changes the way readers view one of this century's most fascinating and enigmatic women. Photo insert.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published February 29th 2000 by Three Rivers Press (CA) (first published September 4th 1998)
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Marilyn Monroe
6th out of 29 books — 43 voters
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3rd out of 19 books — 9 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 26, 2011 Trisha rated it it was ok
For not really knowing anything about this star other than her name and, of course, the famous grate photo and the "happy birthday Mr. President". I even knew about Madonna's video that copied her (pink dress, diamonds...YOU KNOW THE ONE :D) I thought this was an interesting bio. I was amazed to see just how much she fought to be a star, to act and how unsure and scared she was. She always seemed to show everyone how strong she was, but as the book points out, it was all just acting. And she was ...more
Kara Ripley
May 17, 2010 Kara Ripley rated it really liked it
This was an interesting and detailed account of Marilyn's career in Hollywood (rather than her earlier life). The information is taken largely from primary texts and the information is incredibly detailed. The result is a retelling of events that occurred and an insight into the reasoning behind the events.

Even if you haven't seen a Marilyn Monroe movie, you know who she was and you are familiar with the iconic image from the movie The Seven Year Itch (white halter dress getup). The name is syno
May 16, 2012 Audrey rated it liked it
I Loved the parts about Marilyn, I learned so much about her. I just didn't care for the many parts that strayed away from her. Other than that I think people should really read this!
Sep 10, 2008 Bianca rated it really liked it
I only read the first half of celebrity bio's until they get to be who I know them as.
Aug 28, 2015 Kevin rated it liked it
Thirty-six years after Marilyn Monroe's death (at the age of 36), Leaming, prolific celebrity biographer, picks through the bones and neuroses of the ultimate Hollywood icon.

More than 200 books have been written on the subject; only a few biographies (namely, Donald Spoto's revisionist Marilyn Monroe: The Biography) have managed to humanize the fragile actress, who has long since been subsumed by her own mystique. Leaming's relentlessly morose and stand-offish portrait, by contrast, places Monr
Magdalena Llamandra
May 07, 2014 Magdalena Llamandra rated it it was ok
My second Monroe book.
After reading "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" by Taborelli this paled in comparison.

The book skimmed through her early years in just a few pages, which was a huge minus for me.

Also it raced over her marriage with Joe Di Maggio and was extremely chaotic and lacked a proper time system.

The marriage with Miller was looked into in much more depth but a lot from Millers perspective and not as much Marilyn`s... too much political descriptions for my liking relating to Millers
May 25, 2009 nine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: not just marilyn monroe fans but anyone who wants a brilliant read.
Recommended to nine by: a magazine.
this is the book that took me away from my own psycho-traumatic experiences in life and helped me to understand, escape and focus more on the aspect of cognitive psychology and how the past has definitive effects on various personas. i read this book not because it was, "marilyn monroe's story!" but because of the way author barbara leaming had told her story: living through the eyes of the one who lived it at the time. from this book, i learned how to be more empathetic in certain situations, a ...more
Teresa Law
May 21, 2014 Teresa Law rated it it was amazing
All through the 80s I read Marilyn biographies, yet I never found one that so deeply delves into just how much havouc and trouble Marilyn stirred up. For example, during movie production. I always thought, "well, yes Marilyn was difficult, but she showed up and did the job." In this work, the author actually has the Fox studio archives, Arthur Miller's papers, MM's Agent's daily planner/notes - daily records of events that she researched extensively to include - there are even the logs of what t ...more
Rae Ganci Hammers
Dec 03, 2014 Rae Ganci Hammers rated it it was amazing
This might be the best MM biography I've read. Leaming really digs in and gives enough psychological, social, and political context to really address the how's and why's of Marilyn's life. Her struggles with the studio, her calamitous marriages. The way misperceptions (by her and by others) did irreparable harm to her relationships with lovers and colleagues. I appreciated that Leaming choose to begin in 1950 and only call back to earlier years as needed. I feel like other authors have often spe ...more
May 20, 2008 Victoria rated it really liked it
Great read for anyone who wants to learn more about Marilyn's amazing achievements and also the darker side of her fame. Not the most elegantly written book.
Excellent biography

In no way does this book deserve only 1-2 stars. I found this biography to be utterly engrossing from start to finish. Extremely factual and well researched. This is a fascinating and sympathetic portrait of Marilyn with deep insights especially of her marriages and career, and her time in New York at the Actors Studio. I can't praise this book enough but I believe it is over-priced on Kindle. I bought it when it was on sale and I would not have bought it for $12+. I really wo
Cheryl Schibley
Jun 09, 2009 Cheryl Schibley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
People just don't get tired of hearing about Marilyn - this book was very good.
May 05, 2011 Dana rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and totally engrossing from page 1. I loved it.
Stacey Albrecht
May 25, 2010 Stacey Albrecht rated it it was amazing
I wanna hug Marilyn Monroe <3

March 3 - May 26, 2010
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"hirty-six years after Marilyn Monroe's death (at the age of 36), Leaming, prolific celebrity biographer, picks through the bones and neuroses of the ultimate Hollywood icon. More than 200 books have been written on the subject; only a few biographies (namely, Donald Spoto's revisionist Marilyn Monroe: The Biography) have managed to humanize the fragile actress, who has long since been subsumed by her own mystique. Leaming's relentlessly morose and stand-offish portrait, by contrast, plac
Mar 02, 2012 Laurel-Rain rated it liked it
A twentieth century icon whose life remains fascinating and endlessly mysterious, even more than forty years after her death, "Marilyn Monroe" still grabs our attention as no other star of her time.

In Leaming's portrait (published in 1998), I learned a lot that I hadn't gleaned from any other tome about this captivating star. One thing remains true through all the books on the subject, however: Marilyn had a sad and lonely childhood; struggled in her adulthood; and died tragically, still chasing
Jul 21, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star
A highly thought provoking biography of one of the worlds most glamorous women. The writer has obviously studied her subject well, and compares her research to other well known biographers, almost like a thesis would attempt to do. Focusing primarily on the height of Monroe's fame, and her involvement with senior governmental figures, the author does not attempt to paint Monroe as a holier than thou character. She acknowledges Monroe's personality defects, whilst still expressing sympathy for th ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Sandra rated it really liked it
I am always fascinated by biographies and learning details about infamous people's lives. Marilyn Monroe still remains a symbol of Sexy today. I learned she was truly so much more. How sad she could not let go of her fears and insecurities even though she was able to succeed and get to where she wanted. These same fears and insecurities were her drive to get to the top, ironically enough they were equally her demise. How unfortunate that to this day she is loved but she left feeling unloved.
Jack Gattanella
Jun 07, 2012 Jack Gattanella rated it really liked it
Interesting not so much because of the person that was Norma Jean whatever, since she was a troubled kid and then became an even more troubled adult with a particular way of being very effective (if affected too?) on screen, but because the story of Monroe also makes a wonderful look at the film and theater world of the late 40's thru the early 1960's as the studio system hit the 'high and beautiful' wave before it broke and rolled back. So many people and films: Billy Wilder, Jane Russell, Howa ...more
Jul 15, 2015 Pau rated it liked it
The author does quite a job of weaving this biography based on numerous journals, files, notes, accounts and numerous other sources. It wasn't what I expected, as I was looking to read more of personal thoughts by Marilyn. Instead it goes into great about the people who surrounded the star thought of her. It gives insight to what the Hollywood era was like behind the curtains and how female stars were really thought of by the head honchos.
Gabby Yankey
Marilyn Monroe is letting us inside the life of a woman at the center of a drama with immensely high stakes, informing us on behind the scenes information of Monroe's adventure. Overall I enjoyed the biography, learning the unknown has always been a thriller. In my opinion this book can change the way readers view Marilyn Monroe once the truth about her character is revealed.
Oct 01, 2012 Jacqui rated it really liked it
Well written but very heavily reliant on published texts rather than original research, this one is sympathetic to Dr Greenson, the Commie (allegedly according to others) shrink. Seems to believe Marilyn uncomplicatedly committed suicide and makes literally no reference to the conspiracies or the (even I am semi-convinced) at the very least ambiguous last-day events and autopsy reports. However, taking her relationship with Arthur Miller as its central point, I do feel that this biog gets closer ...more
Talya Boerner
Jun 20, 2015 Talya Boerner rated it liked it
This is an extremely detailed account of Marilyn Monroe's life. Having known very little about her, I found it interesting, even though at times the writing was dry and almost textbook like. A great source for anyone wanting the backstory of her movies.
11Jan 2015
25 june 2015
reading this again i have to say this is the 'miller-heavy'version
the fact that it starts in 1951 (as opposed to a chronological order) shows much. i.e writer deems the miller/kazan triangle significant.much of millers writing career in relation to his real life and MM during this time. arthur fans will like this book.

however - excellent analysis of marilyns contract troubles with 20th, greene and MM Productions and of lee and paula expoliting her as we all know they did.

Vaun Healey
Mar 31, 2015 Vaun Healey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a mess

If all of the statements are true, Marilyn was one of the most screwed up humans in Hollywood. It is very sad to think that her mental illness caused her demise.
Dec 30, 2015 Elizabeth rated it liked it
I decided to give this book 3.5 stars, 4 was too many but 3 seems too low. This is a very detailed, well researched biography about Marilyn. At times while reading this I wondered if the author is actually a Marilyn fan, this biography wasn't very personal about almost just showed the business side at times. Now I feel like I know more about Elia Kazan and Arthur Miller then I ever intended to. There is a lot of good information about Marilyn thats worth reading if you're a big fan ...more
Jessica T.
Any biography that skips over the beginnings (especially a beginning that's so traumatic it fucks your entire life up) of the subject... is pretty terrible. It felt like the author was solely focused on the Marilyn and Miller connection.
Nov 13, 2014 Krissys rated it it was amazing
Shelves: featured-books, star
I think Marilyn Monroe was one of those people that was way a head of her time for her generation.
I think she is one of those women that will always be an idol for women and would have done fabulously for females in our own time. She was a girl that wasn't perfect or flawless, she was a full figured female and she was beautiful. She lived life through her heart instead of her mind and although that would eventually lead to her downfall, I think she was absolutely amazing. This novel describes w
Mar 28, 2016 Tyler rated it liked it
It's hard to say exactly how to rate this one. For a book about Marilyn Monroe, the author chose the odd approach of focusing on the people around Monroe to try and illuminate her subject, rather than focusing on Monroe herself. There is a fair amount of pop psychology mixed with what is obviously the author's opinion, not fact itself. At times it feels more like a polemic against Arthur Miller than a Marilyn Monroe biography. The distasteful nature of Marilyn's life aside, the writing makes for ...more
Jason Baker
Nov 01, 2014 Jason Baker rated it it was amazing
a good book read it it is about marilyn monroe
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Barbara Leaming is the author of “Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter” (Thomas Dunne Books, April 12, 2016). She has written three New York Times bestsellers, including her recent book “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis”. Leaming’s book “Churchill Defiant” received The Emery Reves Award from the International Churchill Centre. Her groundbreaking biogra ...more
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“Marilyn, for her part, focused on what was driving Arthur away. She spoke of the monster inside her. By that she seems to have meant the rage that was in sharp contrast to the shyness and sweetness she tended to project. In the beginning, Marilyn said, Arthur had perceived her as a victim, beautiful and innocent. She tried to be those things for him. When inevitably the monster disclosed itself, Miller was shocked and disappointed. He started to pull back.” 23 likes
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