Taraborrelli: The Secret Life of Marilyn
With a nice break from my regular work schedule and summer travel plans, my reading typically picks up around this time of year. I breezed through J. Randy Taraborrelli’s 500+ page Marilyn Monroe biography in just a few days. For someone who’s never read anything on Monroe before and that generally has no strong interest in her, Taraborrelli’s research kept my interest on high. Even the woman who sat next to me during one of my flights managed to peek over my shoulder to get her read on with me (until I reduced the font size and gave her the eye a couple of times). I’m saying, go to sleep or buy your own books!
Steve Harvey makes a memorable joke about the Titanic movie. We already know what’s going to happen, sink the ship! I kinda felt like this about Monroe’s biography—we know her story concludes with the Kennedy affairs and a possible drug overdose. The book filled in the rest of the blanks for me. What’s especially great about reading books on my iPad is that I’m constantly looking at pictures and videos in relation to what I’m reading with a single press of my finger. For example, one portion of the book discusses Monroe’s doomed relationship with Joe DiMaggio. Like her first husband, DiMaggio wanted Monroe to end her career and remain home as a house maker. The book notes the following about the 1954 trip that followed their honeymoon:
When they got to Tokyo, they were surprised by the absolute mob that awaited them there–thousands of fans in what was the most chaotic scene Marilyn had ever seen built around her. Her international appeal was obvious, if not also a little frightening. As for Joe, he wasn’t happy about it at all. It was clear her popularity eclipsed his, even in a foreign country. The realization just made him more surly and disagreeable. At a press conference that had been arranged in his honor to promote the exhibition games for which he had traveled there, matters got worse. Practically every question was directed to Marilyn. He sat at her side looking more than a little peeved.
To read about this is one thing, but to actually see a YouTube clip with Monroe in Tokyo with an empty seat beside her, smiling and having a good time, followed by DiMaggio harshly grabbing her upper arm is another. Maybe I’m exaggerating, so judge for yourself.
That’s just one thing. What makes Taraborrelli’s biography a worthy read is that he references numerous other published biographies on the subject. In other words, he makes it obvious that he’s thoroughly done his research. Not to mention he’s written a couple of biographies on Sinatra and the Kennedy women prior to the publication of Monroe’s. Although I considered reading another Monroe biography to obtain a fuller history (and because it was just that good), Taraborrelli mentions:
Marilyn was known to fabricate stories to gain sympathy. One of the problems in sorting through Marilyn Monroe history is determining what is true and what may be the product of her overworked imagination. In short, as people in her life would begin to understand with the passing of time, one could not ever take everything Marilyn said at face value.
And with over 20 books written on the star, I’m sure reading more would only confuse things (or give me more to talk my friends’ ears off about), so I’ll pass. If you just must read more, Taraborrelli recommends:
That said, as far as Marilyn Monroe is concerned, I’ll stop with Taraborrelli’s version of her story. I read every single page to the very end–including the author’s insight on the research he’d done. Highly recommended, even if you could give less than a damn about the woman.
Happy reading, y’all!