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Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe
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Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,477 ratings  ·  112 reviews
She was born Norma Jeane but the world knew and loved her as Marilyn. Her life was one of unprecedented fame and private misery, her death a tragedy surrounded by mysteries. Drawing on first-hand interviews Anthony Summers offers both a classic biography and a shockingly revealing account of the screen goddess's relations with John and Robert Kennedy. 'The definitive story...more
Hardcover, 415 pages
Published by MacMillan Publishing Company (first published September 1st 1985)
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At first I felt like I was reading one of those creepy rags that you see at the checkout counter. Tell all about a star without her there to defend herself. Marilyn has always been, to me, one of the most misunderstood "stars" of the universe. Perhaps it was her destiny to carry the mental illness that crippled her mother. We will never really know.
Modern medicine was not as modern back then and Marilyn seemed destined to live a life of depression and desperation, that was constantly medicated....more
Rae Ganci Hammers
This is the first Marilyn Monroe biography that I have read, and must admit my knowledge of her life and career was cursory before picking it up. A lot of ink has been spilled over her life and even more over her death, and while I'm sure there are inaccuracies and omissions in Anthony Summers' "Goddess" ...was a fantastic read. Summers traces her life from birth til death, but not in a simple, linear fashion. He acknowledges (if not embraces) the complex mythology that has built up around Maril...more
Tonya Wertman
This was the first biography that I ever read....I was a Freshman in high school and this book and Marilyn Monroe's story have stayed with me ever since.

It is the most in-depth and personal account of this truly unique woman. It's an absolute page turner and you are sure to discover many things that will shock you. By the end of the book I was emotionally attached to Marilyn and she will forever be a goddess to me.

Why such a tragic ending for an immaculate screen goddess? The real tragedy is t...more
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I can't wait to be done with this. Some interesting sections, well-researched but I don't need the exhaustive detail about anyone's life, especially when it includes overdose after suicide attempt after miscarriage after abortion on a seemingly endless loop.
Poor little Normae Jean. America's favorite poor little rich girl.
She was used, she was abused, and she was not amused.
Problem is, she also used, abused and didn't amuse those closest to her.
Was her death an accidental overdose? Was it an intentional suicide? Who really knows. The fact remains that she did have very marked suicidal tendencies and had attempted it in the past. Luckily for her, her past attempts were always twarted by her friends... I guess, in the end, it just became a case of th...more
Laura Ellison
'Goddess' is pure biographical brilliance - Summers explores Monroe's life, and most importantly, less well known aspects of it, extremely well.

His writing tone is very readable and not at all humdrum. The title of the book suggests there are many layers to his research, and this is proven chapter after chapter. Goodness knows how long Summers spent on his research, for it is candidly thorough from start to finish. As a fairly long book, it would have been easy for him to waver and focus on mor...more
I suddenly had a hankering for a fun, hot and juicy read, and what better to turn to than a Marilyn Monroe biography, right? Forget it. I read the first 40-50 pages (skimmed through the rest), but that was MUCH more than enough for me. I was so disappointed and disgusted, yet nothing really came as much of a surprise as I had already read bits and pieces of her depressing tale. The book's entree was a (very) long listing of Marilyn's sexual conquests, with a side of sadness that she was obviousl...more
The peak of my Marilyn Monroe obsession was the late eighties, mid-teens. I'm not even sure how I got started on it all...or what in the world I was doing reading this book way back then, but at any rate. I think the author does an awesome job of addressing all of the mystery of her death as well as seeing past the fabrications she made about her own life and getting as much truth out of it as he could. It does follow the idea that she was murdered for 'knowing too much', implicating the FBI/Ken...more
What a mess! Meticulously researched fascinating history of what must be the most epic backstory of Hollywood history. The exploitation of a dangerously unstable woman by the great powers of media and politics is fifty years later still nauseating. Anyone still clinging to Bobby Kennedy mythology should stay far away from there.
Very tabloidish. Have no idea what to trust. Pretty much the entire book is "he said she said". The author could well be making everything up. He gets so involved in rumors and conspiracy theories (particularly about her death) that I felt very removed from Marilyn by the end. Disappointing.
Nov 29, 2007 Graceann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Biography Fans
Shelves: biography
In-depth examination of the troubled star's life; there's more searching here than I had been used to seeing in other biographies, and the conspiracy theories with regard to her death gave me food for thought. I haven't thought about Monroe in quite the same way since.
Lisa James
Very well done, very intensively researched, & FINALLY makes the case that her tragic death was not suicide, it was accidental, & it WAS covered up in order to get Bobby K. out of Dodge before it could ruin his career. HIGHLY recommended to the MM fans....
Anne T
I enjoyed reading this book and I found her life story very interesting. However, this book made me feel sad for her.
I'm a Marilyn Monroe fan. I have been for a long time. I haven't read a lot of biographies but I consider myself a knowledgable fan.
Marilyn's whole persona-the fact and fiction-is often forgotten to her beauty,her personal problems and marriages. But what actually intrigues me is her acting ability which is often belittled and mistakenly denounced by many people, whom simply know her as "the dumb blonde". Which is far from what she was.

"Goddess" does not give Marilyn Monroe fans or just curious...more
Elizabeth Periale

"As with most biographies of Marilyn, Summers catalogues her many love affairs, possible multiple abortions, and almost constant use of prescription drugs. Originally written in 1985, Summers conducted interviews with many of Marilyn's intimates or staff who knew her, like housekeeper Eunice Murray and "friend" Peter Lawford. He relies a bit too much on the testimony of Robert Slatzer [who controversially claimed he was married to Marilyn for three days in...more
I picked up this book from a library that was selling it off out of general interest. There were a few Monroe references in my life recently and I never really knew much about this icon but I’ve always had a distant nostalgic interest in her.

After finishing this book, I almost mourn the fact that I wasn’t alive during her times to witness the rise and fall of what can be argued as Hollywood’s most notable star. She was beautiful beyond words and lived a glamorous lifestyle, but what she was was...more
Poor Norma Jean. What's striking is that she ever became successful at all, if you can call it that. What's so sad is that she was and remained an unhappy woman. In many ways she was a product of her childhood: born to a mentally-ill, unmarried mother, Norma Jean spent most of her youth in foster homes and orphanages, with reports that she was sexually abused. In other ways she was a product of her times: exploited by the press and the studio and misunderstood by her husbands, Marilyn died alone...more
Hannah Lind
"A wise girl kisses, but doesn't love. Listens, but doesn't believe. & leaves before she is left" the famous quote by Marilyn Monroe shows that she wasn't always a wise girl by her own standards. As a woman with multiple images of MM decorating my own house, I didn't think I had a lot left to learn about this goddess. The book delves into some fact, and some possible fiction about my idol. Some of the darker revelations are about her large number of abortions, affairs, and even a period of p...more
Erin Tiesman
This shoe-leather reporting by Anthony Summers on the life - and tragic death - of Marilyn Monroe had me turning pages for days on end. From her lonely beginnings as an abandoned child to her transformation into a pin-up to her slow, mental deterioration that seemed to be destined for her, it's clear in this book that Marilyn Monroe is one of the most underestimated and largely ignored figures in history. While her sex appeal managed to stun audiences (especially men) worldwide, her inner demons...more
I stumbled upon this biography in a used book store back when my Marilyn fascination was still inchoate (GRE word!). Since then I have seen most of her movies, done additional reading, purchased photographs of her, and gifted various of her biographies to others. But even if you are not a Marilynite, anyone would enjoy this tragic tale of a women whose beauty could not save her (and maybe destroyed her).

This book does delve pretty deeply into the story so it could be a bit much for someone who...more
Im not quite sure just what spawned my current obsession with Marilyn Monroe - perhaps it was watching the first couple of seasons of "Mad Men." At any rate, being an aficionado of biography, I knew I didn't want to read anything too sensational, so Summers' carefully researched investigation fit the bill. It's hard not to feel terribly sad and sorry for Marilyn - she was the ultimate pawn in a game that ended up becoming an era. In a time when women were oppressed by both of the roles afforded...more
Intrestingness of this book? Medium. Accuracy? Probably very low. Biographies of people who are dead, particularly old Hollywood celebrities, are tricky because there are years of rumors and stories about them. We will never really know who Marilyn Monroe was, only what we think she was. That's the very reason she's so fascinating to us. If we truly knew Marilyn, she wouldn't be legendary. I only feel bad she had to pay that price. This book, however, seemed to be more about scandal and sex tha...more
De Barrus
I absolutely love Marilyn Monroe, allot of people have negative things to say about her but they don't understand how genuine, fickle, and complex she was as a woman! This documentary is eye opening and should be more popular then it is. The title fits the documentary; A goddess she was and her 'Lives' were secret considering how little many people, who both love and hate her, actually know about her....
Pat Lampe
I remember the day Marilyn Monroe died. Everyone was sad and unbelieving. The overdose seemed to be a real result from taking barbiturates. I was 19 and naive but I don't remember there being rumors other than was it accidental or suicide. Certainly nothing about the Kennedy's. What pigs.
This was a fascinating glimpse into the life of the world's biggest sex icon. She was both fabulous and wildly disturbed. I think she's best summed up by her own quote:

"I'm a failure as a woman. My men expect so much of me, because of the image they've made of me and that I've made of myself as a sex symbol. Men expect so much, and I can't live up to it. They expect bells to ring and whistles to whistle, but my anatomy is the same as any other woman's. I can't live up to it."

The book covers ever...more
This is the worst famous Monroe biography. It is far to conspiracy based and doesn't look at the simple truth which is usually correct. I love conspiracy books, but only when they have a story and admit that is only opinion. Any actual Monroe fan hates this book. I knew the Marilynettes hated it and after 4/5 years of everyone discussing why, I can see. It speed untrue stories which add to the supposed "mystery" around Monroe. It even has an autopsy photo, which Monroe fans don't want to see as...more
Elaine Bennington
Excellent research

this to me is the definitive work on Marilyn and the Kennedys, well researched and very sad in its final reality. As a long-time fan of John Kennedy, I had always hoped for the best, but the author's detail left little doubt. Very well written but so sad for Marilyn and so damming for Jack and Bobby
Thomas Flannery
This book is pretty intensive w/ the amount of factual information it gives, but remains a page turner, that's not easy to do. Summers doesn't rush to any judgments, he presents all the information available and lets the truth shine through.
As a Marilyn Monroe fan, I was always going to be engrossed in this. It was, for the most part, an interesting read.

There were sections that almost put me to sleep with name after name being printed, and it got a bit confusing remembering who was who at times, but by the end you realise who the key players are.

I was really only interested in the MM parts, not the he-said-she-said investigative journalistic hearsay approach.

The author does allude to the fact that while most stories are corroborat...more
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Anthony Summers is the bestselling author of eight nonfiction books. His investigative books include Not in Your Lifetime, the critically acclaimed book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy; Official & Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover; and most recently The Eleventh Day, on the 9/11 attacks—a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History.
More about Anthony Summers...
Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover Sinatra: The Life The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon The Kennedy Conspiracy

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“Honey, we all got to go sometime, reason or no reason. Dyin’s as natural as livin’; man who’s afraid to die is too afraid to live, far as I’ve ever seen. So there’s nothing to do but forget it, that’s all. Seems to me” 70 likes
“There’s something in her that’s looking for the basic reality of a given situation.” 0 likes
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