The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

Last week I wanted a juicy biography to get into and I definitely found it with this book.

I never had more than a mild interest in Marilyn Monroe. Our culture is just so over-saturated with her image that I guess that's why I never took an interest. I grew up with this autographed picture in our house from her, made out to my grandmother and namesake, Ramona. She had a restaurant in Reno that Marilyn had once visited. That's about as much as I knew of her other than the general consensus: she was known as a "dumb blonde," she liked to take pills, and she got married at S.F. City Hall. I don't think I had even watched one of her films all the way through.

This is the same promotional picture given to my grandmother
with her mother Gladys, who outlived her by 22 years!
Reading her story really humanized her for me, and I found out so much I didn't know about her. I had no idea that her whole underlying problem stemmed from mental illness. Her mother and grandmother were both mentally ill and in and out of sanotoriums constanly. This was at the heart of Marilyn's problems -- a fear that one day she herself would lose her mind. This fear kept her wildly insecure and she started self-medicating around the time she had her first Hollywood player boyfriend who introduced her to a studio physician who was more than willing to prescribe what at first were just pills to help her sleep the night before a big shoot... we all know how that eventually turned out.

with Johnny Hyde, her agent/boyfriend
still Norma Jean
with Joe DiMaggio

at Frank Sinatra's house

near the end of her life, with poet, Carl Sandburg
She really was sooo mesmerizing to look at... and to top it off she was a really nice person as well which makes her even more beautiful. Had she lived, next year she would have been 85.

Cecil Beaton photo


  1. i haven't really ever given her much thought either...she was gorgeous. such a sad and all too common story with celebrities.

  2. There's a real person under that platinum hair! I envy you getting the background about her.

    Marilyn Monroe shines as a comedic actress in Some Like it Hot, The Seven Year Itch and Gentleman Prefer Blondes. She'll make you cry in The Misfits which came much later in her career.

  3. Larry McMurtry has recently written about her too:

    I've never thought much about MM. (I'm 48.) But McMurtry's essay and your post intrigue me. I'm emailing friends the links to both of your posts.

    Good job.


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