Colleen Martin's Reviews > The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli
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Mar 22, 10

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in March, 2010

Okay, I need to preface this by saying that I'm not a huge Marilyn Monroe fan...I can appreciate what a beautiful woman she was, but I've never seen any of her movies and don't really understand why she's so iconic. And after listening to this book, I still don't understand. It sounds to me like the only redeeming quality she had was her remarkable beauty. The author goes to great lengths to tell us how intelligent she was and how she resented always being given dumb blonde roles, but frankly, Paris Hilton has made the same assertions. Yes, she showed signs of being mentally ill and yes, she had a rough childhood (although her youth wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. There were people in her life who truly loved her, even if her mother wasn't one of them), but these were things that she could have overcome if she wasn't too busy milking the "lost little girl" schtick.
Again, I haven't seen any of her films, so I'm willing to accept the widely-held belief that she did display acting talent in some of her films, but is that really why we remember her? No, it's not...we remember her because she's the original Hollywood cautionary tale, a train wreck we can't keep from watching, the forebear of Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and other famous girls who are the path to self-destruction. Really, aren't there any better role models out there?
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Sylvia I am surprised that you were not curious to see at least one of her movies. She was definitely not a role model, but she was special, with charisma that I don't think could be depicted in a book or photographs. Although you may never be a fan, I recommend "Some Like It Hot" to see what all the fuss was about. I haven't read the book yet, but I just had to post this because I hate to see Marilyn compared to Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan. She was in a class by herself.

message 2: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie I haven't read this book, so like you, I'm rather misinformed in responding to your review, but I really would advise you to check out some of MM's films before naively trusting in the opinions of one biographer (when representations of Monroe have been notoriously biased) or in her iconic status in order to classify her as a Britney Spears/LiLo/Paris Hilton figure.

No fair, really, to mention the 'unfair iconicity' assigned to Monroe only then to confess that you're judging her entirely on the basis of that very (iconic) hearsay. If you'd like to be a more informed observer, most consider her final performance in "The Misifts" (with Clark Gable & Montgomery Clift) to be her best. It's certainly her most 'serious,' though the film itself is uneven. "Some Like It Hot" is an absolutely wonderful film, a classic that deserves the title 'classic'--and not only because Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis are fabulous; MM definitely shines in it. People seem to assume that Monroe wasn't a 'good' actress because she primarily appeared in non-serious films--but the fact of it is, she had a great knack for comedy, which critics and biographers often breeze over.

I'm quite fond of 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' 'Bus Stop,' and 'How to Marry a Millionaire,' as well.

Oh, and I'd like to echo the above comment to say that the comparison to LL, Paris Hilton, and Britney is laughable at best. All of them owe a hefty debt to Monroe for their celebrity images (and god knows LiLo tries real hard to position herself as MM in every damn photoshoot she poses for), but beyond that, it's just a nasty generalization about women in Hollywood, if you ask me.


Lauren Ware Please don't compare her to Paris and Lindsey and all of them other girls. Marilyn had far more class than any of them and she is certainly more brainy than them as well. I suggest you read into it more rather than blindly putting comments about her.

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