Marilyn Monroe was born June 1, 1926 -- 90 years ago.
A half century after her death, she remains an American icon. A product of abuse and foster homes, Norma Jeane Baker created and cultivated Marilyn Monroe, the embodiment of sexiness, beauty and Hollywood intrigue -- the the sultry and funny blonde bombshell.
Her life was colorful and controversial. Her husbands included a baseball star and a writer/intellectual. Her lovers included President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Marilyn died August 4,1962 at age 36. The coroner ruled it a probable suicide.
Others believe it was an accident.
Many believe it was murder.
Here are 12 great books about many of the movie icon's amazing life and mysterious death.
This autobiography was written at the height of Monroe's fame but not published until more than a decade after her death. The book recounts her years as an unwanted child, her early adolescence, her rise in the film industry from bit player to celebrity, and her marriage to Joe DiMaggio. In this intimate account, she tells of her first (non-consensual) sexual experience, her romance with the Yankee Clipper, and her prescient vision of herself as "the kind of girl they found dead in the hall bedroom with an empty bottle of sleeping pills in her hand."
The Marilyn in these pages is a revelation: a gifted, intelligent, vulnerable woman who was far more complex than the sex siren she portrayed on screen.
This is the biography that most other authors of Marilyn Monroe books use as a reference and guide. It has been praised for its in-depth look into a confusing, tragic life; especially since Marilyn often embellished her past.
Guiles treats Marilyn's decline with objectivity as he covers her tardiness to work or appointments, her drug dependence and occasional fits of anger. He handles her death with grace, leaning toward a suicide verdict, carefully negating other reports.
Psychotherapist and author Gary Vitacco-Robles reframes and redefines the woman behind the iconic image through an analysis of her psyche and an appreciation of her performances. In this meticulously researched book, the author offers facts comprehensively documenting each year of Monroe's life within the context of her tumultuous times and through her relationships with literary, sports, entertainment, and political figures. He explores her desires: to be loved, become a serious actress, and have a family. He dispels many myths and reveals the ultimate truth about Hollywood's charismatic and beloved star.
Leaming's Marilyn Monroe is a complex, sympathetic portrait of the actress at the center of a drama with very high stakes. Surrounding her are powerful characters in the movie industry, theatre and politics. The book also looks at one of the most tumultuous, frightening, and exciting periods in American culture. At the heart of this book is a sexual triangle and a riveting story of betrayal that has never been told before.
Basing her research on new interviews and on thousands of primary documents, including letters by Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, John Huston, Laurence Olivier, Tennessee Williams, Darryl Zanuck, Marilyn's psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson, and many others, Leaming has reconstructed the tangles of betrayal in Marilyn's life.
Marilyn Monroe's death has been veiled in decades of deception, conspiracy, and lies. This startling portrait redefines her place in entertainment history and reveals the conspiracy that surrounded her last days.
After more than seven years of research, Wolfe argues that Marilyn was murdered, documenting the mode of death, and names those involved and those who participated in the cover-up. The book contains documented revelations, information about the dark secret in Marilyn's relationship with John and Robert Kennedy, and details about the many bizarre events that took place at Marilyn's home the day she died.
Fragments is a collection of written artifacts -- Marilyn's notes to herself, letters, even poems -- in her own handwriting, never before published, along with rarely seen intimate photos.
Jotted in notebooks, typed, or written on hotel letterhead, these texts reveal a woman who loved deeply and strove to perfect her craft. They show a person critically analyzing her own life, but who is also playful, funny, and charming. There is a grace and deceptive lightness that made her performances enduring emerge, as well as the simmering tragedy that made her last appearances so affecting.
Marilyn Monroe died under suspicious circumstances on the night of August 4, 1962. Renowned Marilyn expert Jay Margolis and New York Times best-selling author Richard Buskin dispel decades of speculation and misguided assertions by actually naming the screen goddess's alleged killer. At the same time, they use eyewitness testimony to describe what took place inside her Los Angeles home. Implicating Bobby Kennedy in the commission of Monroe's alleged murder, this is the first book to name the LAPD officers who accompanied the attorney general to her home, provide details about how the Kennedys allegedly used bribes to silence an ambulance driver, and show how the alleged cover-up was aided by a noted pathologist's lies. This book lays open Marilyn's death and in the process also tries to expose the third gunman in the pantry who fired the fatal bullet to the back of RFK's head -- and the third gunman's female accomplice who, until now, has only been known to the LAPD and the FBI as "the girl in the polka-dot dress."
A stunning collection of hundreds of rare and unseen photographs, behind-the-scenes notes, and interviews chronicling the media's love affair with Marilyn, created by curator and author of Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis.
Marilyn was married three times, but her longest lasting relationship was with the press -- the photographers, reporters, and press agents who followed her for nearly two decades and made her into the greatest icon in Hollywood history. Marilyn actively sought out the press, carefully crafting her public image and using events from her private life to further her career.
Drawing on troves from photographers, archives, and collectors, Wills brings together an array of press photos from throughout Marilyn's career. It includes a foreword by Robert J. Wagner, interviews from key press agents and others.
On June 1, 1962, her 36th birthday, photographer/reporter George Barris visited Marilyn on the set of what would be her final, unfinished film. They were friends and planned to do a picture book and autobiography. For the next six weeks Barris photographed and interviewed the actress.
Their final talk was on August 3, less than 24 hours before Marilyn was found dead in her apartment. Barris believes that Marilyn was murdered and could not bring himself to publish her thoughts or the haunting photos of that summer until 2012.
This is a candid memoir with 150 black-and-white and color photos, many never before published.
Marilyn Monroe's death is one of the great mysteries of the 20th century. Although no pills were found in her stomach during the autopsy, the coroner's report stated that she had swallowed 64 sleeping pills. Margolis presents the most thorough investigation of Marilyn Monroe's death to date and shares how he reached the definitive conclusion that she was murdered.
Margolis dissects the events leading up to her death, revealing a conspiracy and lies. In an exclusive interview with actress Jane Russell three months before her death, he reveals Russell's belief that Monroe was murdered and points the finger at the man she held responsible. While examining the actions of Peter Lawford, Bobby Kennedy, and Monroe's psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, Margolis establishes a timeline of her last day alive that leads to shocking revelations.
Although Marilyn Monroe was a top-billed actress for only a decade, her films grossed $200 million by the time of her death in 1962.
By 1953, Marilyn was one of the most bankable Hollywood stars, with leading roles in several films that established her star image as a "dumb blonde". Although she played a significant role in the creation and management of her public image, she was disappointed at being typecast and underpaid by the studio.
Fighting the Hollywood establishment, Monroe founded a film production company in late 1954, Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP). In 1955, Fox gave her a new contract with more control and a larger salary.
This book covers her troubled private life, her struggle with addiction, depression and anxiety, as well as her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller.
This is a powerful account of the official coroner's investigation into Marilyn's death. Deputy Coroner Lionel Grandison investigated Marilyn's case in 1962. Grandison provides an unprecedented inside look at the alleged massive cover-up he witnessed and how the official Coroner's investigation was sabotaged to hide the truth about the star's death.
Grandison, 22 years old at the time, was thrust into this intricate conspiracy plot and forced to sign Marilyn's death certificate. He offers new information about what transpired at the coroner's office and how the huge cover-up unfolded. It also includes new information about her autopsy, original toxicology reports and Grandison's discovery of Marilyn's secret diary, which the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office had in its possession.
The diary depicted the high stakes secret life she lived and her knowledge of sensitive government issues. Grandison reveals contents of Marilyn's diary which includes her involvement with the Kennedys, FBI, CIA and Mafia members.
The book describes a shocking chain-of-events leading up to Marilyn's death and how the cover-up began from the moment she died.
This post was condensed from the author's article "30 Great Books about Marilyn Monroe."