Book News: ‘Marilyn My Marilyn,’ and More

Marilyn, My Marilyn, a novel by Art Johnson, has just been published in paperback and via Kindle. The eye-catching cover shows Marilyn backstage in 1956. Here’s a brief synopsis:

“It’s the summer of ’62, and twenty-five-year-old journalist Rory Long receives a phone call at quitting time: it’s Marilyn Monroe. She wants to personally compliment him on a review he wrote of the new collected works of poet Carl Sandburg. She then enlists the cub reporter to tell her story; she doesn’t want to be remembered as a joke. When they meet, Rory is captivated by her knowledge of classical music, art and literature. As their relationship intensifies, Rory experiences a coming-of-age inspired by this side of Marilyn few know, and at the same time, Marilyn is influenced by Rory to begin reassessing her own life …”

And coming in August, Marilyn in Manhattan is a novel by French author Philippe Ward, published in English for the first time. (It shares its title with Elizabeth Winder’s 2017 non-fiction book, as well as a 1996 documentary.)

“Kristin Arroyo is a former Marine who served in Iraq. In the personal effects of her late grandfather – a once famous photographer – she discovers several unpublished photos of Marilyn Monroe. With the help of a friend, she decides to put on an exhibition to honor her grandfather; unfortunately, nothing goes as planned, as a mysterious organization suddenly starts pursuing her, trying to kill her. Kristin comes to realize that her fate is mysteriously tied to the photographs of Marilyn and, if she is to save her life, she must reconstruct the last days of the Hollywood star and solve the mystery surrounding her death – but did Marilyn really die on August 5, 1962?”

British Press Goes Mad for Marilyn

British fans can expect lots of media coverage for Marilyn this month. In this week’s issue of free magazine Stylist, Rhiannon Lucy Coslett interviews gallery director Amy Thornett about Up Close With Marilyn, the exhibition of Milton Greene photos at London’s Proud Central  until June 24. You can read it here, or buy a copy (N415) for just £1 from Newsstand (shipping costs may vary outside the UK.)

And in the latest issue of The Lady (dated May 11), ‘Marilyn Monroe: An Unlikely Feminist’, a four-page article by Michelle Morgan, author of The Girl (just published in the US, and coming to our shores very soon), is accompanied by more Greene photos.

Finally, Alfred Eisenstadt’s 1953 portrait of Marilyn is featured in today’s Daily Mail, in a review of a new book by Ian Haydn Smith, The Short Story of Photography.

Thanks to Fraser, Valerie and Nicola at Marilyn Remembered

UPDATE: Here’s a few more…

From ‘Amateur Photographer’ magazine

‘The Girl’ Q&A at Immortal Marilyn

Author Michelle Morgan will be answering your questions about all things MM live on Immortal Marilyn’s Facebook page (here) this Sunday, May 6, at 1 pm central (7 pm in the UK.) And Immortal Marilyn president Leslie Kasperowicz has reviewed Michelle’s upcoming book, The Girl, here.

“Some may say that Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a feminist, and by much of today’s definition, she may not have been.  For her era, however, her stalwart refusal to bend to the pressure of men who could have destroyed her career is nothing short of remarkable.  Morgan sheds light on a side of Marilyn that is rarely discussed, the actress and the woman whose life and career were truly remarkable aside from all of the sensational tabloid trash that has dominated the narrative about Marilyn for so long.”

Emily Berl’s Multitude of Marilyns

Hanna Nixon, UK (after Earl Baron’s Marilyn)

Los Angeles-based photographer Emily Berl has been working with Marilyn lookalikes in Tinseltown and far beyond for several years (see here.) Her portraits are now collected in a stunning monograph, and Monroe fans will notice many familiar faces striking classic poses in new settings, and a selection of images posted today on The Cut shows that there was a great deal more variety to Marilyn’s style than is generally acknowledged. Marilyn is quite an expensive book ($98) but the quality is well worth the price, for collectors and art-lovers alike.

“One of the things I have had to come to terms with this project is that it kind of dances with a lot of clichés, like the Hollywood dream, but I’ve realized I’m into that. I think even though they’re clichés, they’re kind of important. They’re not necessarily a bad thing.”

Nadine Banville, Canada (soon to appear in a new movie, ‘Reliving Marilyn’)
Debra Bakker, Netherlands (wearing a dress similar to Marilyn’s in ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’)

Getting Ready For ‘The Girl’ in May

Michelle Morgan’s new book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, will be published on May 31. Ahead of a live chat with Michelle, Homegirl Talk has posted a wide-ranging interview, in which the prolific author and MM expert reveals her inspiration for The Girl...

“It was my editor’s idea, because she wanted to do a book about how The Seven Year Itch was an influential film that still inspires millions of people. I loved that idea, so we talked and decided to broaden it to include how the film inspired Marilyn and how that period of time became her most powerful and influential. Strangely, Marilyn’s time in New York and also her early modeling career have been two of my favorite periods of her life. Several years ago I was given the opportunity of writing about her modeling days, and now I’ve done the New York period, too. I’m really thrilled to have written about both.”

And don’t forget, Michelle will be a special guest at a panel discussion about Marilyn at London’s Birkbeck College on May 16 – more details here.

Marilyn Book News: The Girl, Hollywood and More

2018 is shaping up to be another great year for Marilyn’s book-loving fans. Marilyn: Lost and Forgotten, featuring 150 images from Colin Slater’s Hollywood Photo Archive, is set for publication in October. For those who can’t get enough of those classic Hollywood beauties, a companion volume – Venus in Hollywood: Portraits from the Golden Age of Glamour – is due in November.

Michelle Morgan’s latest book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, will be published in May. For the latest updates, follow Michelle’s blog here.

Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, a full-scale biography by Charles Casillo, will follow in August.

Looking further ahead,  Amanda Konkle’s Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe, a scholarly look at her film performances, will be published in February 2019. (Only the Kindle version is available for pre-order as yet.)

In related interest, Marilyn graces the cover of Samantha Barbas’ Confidential Confidential: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Notorious Scandal Magazine, due in September. (The notorious ‘Wrong Door Raid’ is also featured in Jim Heimann’s Dark City: The Real Los Angeles Noir, just published by Taschen.

Reno, a 2016 play by Roy Smiles about Marilyn’s conflicted relationships with husband Arthur Miller and director John Huston during the tumultuous filming of The Misfits, will be published shortly by Oberon Modern Playwrights (the Kindle version is currently available for pre-order.)

And finally, Elizabeth Winder’s Marilyn in Manhattan is now available in Turkish; and Marilyn Monroe: 1926-1962, a new study of her untimely death by Eva Enderström, has been published in Sweden.

Was Marilyn Really a Feminist?

Marilyn returns to Los Angeles after her triumphant studio battle in 1956 (photo from the Frieda Hull collection)

An extract from Michelle Morgan’s upcoming book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, has been published in L.A. Weekly. Looking not only at Marilyn’s life but also the culture surrounding women in her time, Michelle brings some much-needed historic nuance to our perception of what it is to be a feminist.

“Since she was such a complex character, Marilyn Monroe found herself stuck in the middle of two different types of women: those who were disgusted or intimidated by her glamour and wanted her to tone everything down, and those who loved her look just as it was and wanted her to stop trying to be taken seriously.

It could easily be argued that Marilyn suffered frequent frustration because people wanted to pigeonhole her into being just one kind of personality. This undoubtedly came as a result of her unique and modern outlook on life—one more fitting to the twenty-first century rather than the 1950s. She was actually a modern-day feminist, though the very idea struck the nerves of many at the time.

Although vulnerable and complex, Marilyn was a strong woman who consistently fought for what she believed in. However, because of the confusion and stigma related to the word, it is highly unlikely that she would ever have considered herself a feminist in 1955. Friend Norman Rosten further doubted that she would have joined the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and argued that in terms of economic equality, she had already proven herself.”

Marilyn Featured in Ella Fitzgerald Biography

Marilyn is featured in a new book by Geoffrey Mark. ELLA: A Biography of the Legendary Ella Fitzgerald is fully illustrated, and in the text, Mark describes the two iconic women as ‘true girlfriends, each had the other’s back as both felt overworked, put-upon, and under-appreciated by the men in their lives as well as their employers.’

The story of Marilyn’s helping Ella secure a nightclub engagement in Hollywood has been somewhat exaggerated over the years (more info here), but there does seem to have been a genuine affinity between them. Geoffrey Mark gave his take on their friendship in an interview with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News.

“Mark told Fox News Fitzgerald’s estate gave his book ELLA their blessing and he had full cooperation from the star’s recording companies. Mark also assisted Fitzgerald in her later years and befriended her inner circle. Mark insisted that despite Fitzgerald’s sweet, sunny voice that easily lit up any stage, few fans know the full measure of the cruelty she endured as a child before finding fame.

‘It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances,’ said Mark. ‘Ella’s mother died in a car accident. And the man who was her mother’s companion, turned to Ella for comfort. He drank too much and forced himself on Ella, forcing her to run away from home… And because she ran away… the government grabbed her and stuck her in this awful place where children were sent — far away from where she was living.’

‘Marilyn Monroe began going to Ella Fitzgerald’s concerts and nightclub gigs,’ Mark explained. ‘She struck up a conversation with her and what they found out was they had both been teenagers forced out on their own, they had to survive for themselves, they both had to deal with being women in a business that was completely dominated by men… And Marilyn saw how Ella was treated sometimes for being black, for being overweight and for being in the jazz world.'”