If you’re still in lockdown or just looking for a Marilyn-related read, I can recommend three of the best recent publications here.
Amanda Konkle’s Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe looks in depth at her film career, and is available on Kindle for £9.85 (or $18.87.) With The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, on Kindle for £3.99 (or $4.59), Michelle Morgan focuses on Marilyn’s Hollywood battles and escape to New York. And for those interested in uncovering mysteries, Donald McGovern’s Murder Orthodoxies: A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death, on Kindle for £5.19 (or $9.99) is essential reading.
Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe is a new academic study of Marilyn’s movie performances by Amanda Konkle. Although set for publication on February 28, it’s already in stock at The Book Depository. Having just read it, I can whole-heartedly recommend this book: it’s thoughtful without being stuffy, and puts the focus back on Marilyn’s work. Some Kind of Mirror is illustrated with screen-captures from Marilyn’s films, as well as the beautiful cover photo by Eve Arnold (showing Marilyn during filming of The Misfits, toasting her loyal friends and co-workers.)
Sarah Churchwell’s excellent 2005 ‘meta-biography’, The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, will be reissued in March, as well as being published digitally for the first time. (The only downside for me is no Marilyn on the cover!)
And looking further ahead, The Little Book of Marilyn: Inspiration From the Goddess of Glam – the latest from ace biographer Michelle Morgan – is coming in July.
“A lifestyle guide and tribute to the style, glamour, and showmanship of Hollywood’s most iconic star, with Marilyn-inspired lessons and inspiration for today’s woman.
While the 1950s was in many ways an era of repression for women, Marilyn Monroe broke barriers and rebelled against convention — and charmed the world with her beauty, talent, and irresistible personality. Filled with gorgeous photos, The Little Book of Marilyn will show you how to bring a touch of that glamour into your own life through:
- * Tutorials on recreating the star’s makeup looks
- * Style advice and tips on where to find Marilyn-like fashions
- * Décor ideas from Marilyn’s own homes
- * Everyday inspiration from her life that will let your inner Marilyn shine, and much more!”
Two of Marilyn’s address books have been photographed and published digitally by Lori Hall via Kindle. The first dates back to Norma Jeane’s modelling career, while the second seems to be from the last year of Marilyn’s life. Although they’re quite expensive compared to other ebooks, it could be a useful research tool, and appears to be in aid of a good cause – the author is listed as Art for Alzheimer’s, and the photographer is Alan Radom.
Icon: The Life, Times, and Films of Marilyn Monroe: Volume 2: 1956 to 1962 and Beyond, the second volume of Gary Vitacco Robles’ excellent 2014 biography, is now available via Kindle from Amazon stores worldwide. You can also purchase the first volume as an ebook here.
It’s hard to imagine today that gossip columnists like Hedda Hopper once had the power to make and break careers, but in the age of the Hollywood blacklist, that’s exactly what she did. Hedda was never Marilyn’s closest ally in the press: that honour fell to Sidney Skolsky, and Hedda’s bitter rival, Louella Parsons.
However, it was Hedda who planted the (possibly apocryphal) story about an ailing Howard Hughes spotting Norma Jeane on a magazine cover back in 1946, and in 1952, she would champion MM as Hollywood’s finest ‘blowtorch blonde.’ She made no secret of her disapproval when Marilyn abandoned her studio contract and formed her own production company, and in 1960 she would expose Marilyn’s adulterous affair with Yves Montand.
Although more feared than liked, Hedda’s influence should not be underestimated. Originally published in 1963, her memoir, The Whole Truth and Nothing But, has now been reissued via Kindle, and for fans of Hollywood history, it’s a must-read.
Despite reports this summer that filmmaker Andrew Dominik’s long-mooted adaptation of Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel about Marilyn, would be produced for Netflix in 2017, it is “not a done deal,” as Dominik admits in a new interview for Collider. (Criticised by MM fans for its factual liberties, Blonde will be available via Kindle for the first time in English next March – so if you haven’t read it yet, judge for yourself.)
“When I spoke to you for Killing Them Softly, you were going to do Blonde next, but that was back in 2012. We’ve recently heard that Netflix was going to step in and finance that, so are you finally going to go into production on that film?
DOMINIK: I don’t know. I hope so, but it’s not, in any way, a done deal.
So, you don’t have a possible production date yet?
What is it about that film and that story that’s made you stick with it all this time, and still want to get it made?
DOMINIK: I think that Blonde will be one of the ten best movies ever made. That’s why I want to do it.
Why do you think that is?
DOMINIK: It’s a film about the human condition. It tells the story of how a childhood trauma shapes an adult who’s split between a public and a private self. It’s basically the story of every human being, but it’s using a certain sense of association that we have with something very familiar, just through media exposure. It takes all of those things and turns the meanings of them inside out, according to how she feels, which is basically how we live. It’s how we all operate in the world. It just seems to me to be very resonant. I think the project has got a lot of really exciting possibilities, in terms of what can be done, cinematically.
Are you still hoping to have Jessica Chastain play Marilyn Monroe, or will you have to recast the role once you finally get a firm start date?
DOMINIK: Well, it’s a chicken and the egg type of thing. But, I don’t think it’s going to be Jessica Chastain.”
Marilyn’s Places: Walking in the Footsteps of Marilyn Monroe, the definitive guide to Marilyn’s homes and haunts, is now available on Amazon Kindle for £3.48 (UK) or $5 (US.) It is a fully revised and expanded version of Michelle Morgan’s 1995 book, Marilyn’s Addresses, and is also available in paperback from Lulu.com under the alternate title of Marilyn’s Footsteps. Michelle is, of course, the author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed and Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years, and Marilyn’s Places is essential for anyone who wants to visit these locations, or just to learn more about her life.
Two previously published works on Marilyn are being reissued under different titles. Originally a ‘bookazine‘, Jessica Bailey’s Marilyn Monroe: A Hollywood Legend is now available in paperback for £4.99 at Amazon. It is a fully illustrated, short biography. Meanwhile, a video-enhanced, ebook edition of Timothy Knight’s Marilyn Monroe: A Life in the Movies will be available on Kindle for £6.61 on December 1.
An interesting new ebook is now available via Amazon Kindle. In The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses: CinemaScope 1953 – 1954, John V. Watson examines the widescreen technology pioneered by Twentieth Century-Fox.
How to Marry a Millionaire was the first movie to be photographed entirely in Cinemascope, although biblical epic The Robe had an earlier premiere. All of Marilyn’s subsequent Fox movies were shot in Cinemascope.
Alistair Cooke was an English journalist based in America, best-known for his weekly broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Letter From America; and as the host of PBS Masterpiece Theatre. He was also a respected film critic from the 1930s onward, and a collection of his articles and reviews – first published in 2009 – has now been released as an ebook.
Alistair Cooke at the Movies includes a piece entitled DiMaggio and Monroe. Cooke also wrote a poignant obituary of Marilyn for The Guardian.