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The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe Hardcover – August 25, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446580821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446580823
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. After half a century of Marilyn Monroe books, beginning with Maurice Zolotow's interviews of her for his 1960 biography, it's hard to imagine any revelations about the actress, but Taraborrelli—who's written bios of Grace Kelly, Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra—tackles that problem with what he refers to as fresh research. For instance, thanks to files released in 2006 under the Freedom of Information Act, Taraborrelli details the truly extraordinary three-page document in which an unnamed FBI agent described the romance and sex affair between Monroe and RFK. Rather than the usual bibliographic listings, Taraborrelli cites only a few key books. Instead, he itemizes 30 pages of interviews explaining how he contacted sources close to the subject (e.g., approaching Dean Martin in a restaurant; talking with the historians he calls the true experts). In addition to interviews with everyone from Janet Leigh to Secret Service agents, Taraborrelli read the unpublished notes and interviews of reporters from the 1950s. As Taraborrelli brushes away cobwebs of myth and rumor, his remarkable research and fluid writing captures Marilyn's élan, sensitivity, desperation and despair with a haunting intimacy. (Aug. 25)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Readable and mesmerizing...This will probably stand as the definitive Monroe biography..."
(Library Journal (starred review) )

"As Taraborrelli brushes away cobwebs of myth and rumor, his remarkable research and fluid writing captures Marilyn's elan, sensitivity, desperation and despair with a haunting intimacy." (Publishers Weekly (starred review) ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

J. RANDY TARABORRELLI is the author of 18 biographies, 14 of which went on to become New York Times' best sellers, including: "Call Her Miss Ross," "Sinatra - Behind the Legend," "Madonna - An Intimate Biography," "Jackie, Ethel, Joan - Women of Camelot," "Elizabeth,"(a biography of Elizabeth Taylor); "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" and "After Camelot - A Personal History of the Kennedy Family 1968 to the Present."

Taraborrelli's best seller, "After Camelot," is presently in production as a miniseries for the ReelzChannel (2014). His previous book about the Kennedys - "Jackie, Ethel, Joan - Women of Camelot" was a highly-rated miniseries for NBC, starring Jill Hennesey as Jackie and Lauren Holly and Ethel. It is available for purchase here on Amazon.

J. Randy's latest book is "The Hiltons - The True Story Of An American Dynasty."

"Behind the celebrity, the success, the wealth and the glamour unique to the Hilton name is the story of everyday people, with redeeming strengths and inevitable flaws," says the author of the characters in "The Hiltons."

"Sometimes wonderful, sometimes insufferable, all are trying to map out their place within the complex geographies of their lives," he writes. "Their love for one another has sustained them just as much as their joyful pursuit of the American dream. After all, fame, riches and notoriety aside, there is no greater common denominator than family. It's what makes us who we are. It's what we see when we look in the mirror: our parents, our siblings, our children, all of those who came before us, who walk with us still, who shaped who we are today and, for better or worse, who show us what we might one day become."

"The Hiltons - The True Story of An American Dynasty" was published in April, 2014. His fourteenth book to make the New York Times' best seller list, it is available on Amazon.

J. Randy Taraborrelli has also worked as a CBS News analyst and is a popular guest on talk and entertainment programs.

The author holds a black belt in the martial art of American Tang Soo Do and a blue belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Related Media

Customer Reviews

I have finished reading the 500+ pages within a couple of days.
Jessica M.
This book relies heavily on second hand information; many sources that are quoted are only peripheral to Marilyn.
This is a long book but I found it very interesting and recommend it to Marilyn's fans.
Linda K. Walker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Bill Pullman on August 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a huge fan of MM I thought I knew just about all there was to know about this fascinating lady, but Taraborrelli proved me wrong. Using fresh research, including some files recently released by the government, the author adds more color to the affair between Marilyn and President Kennedy, info supplied by an FBI agent who was documenting the affair at the time it occurred! He also interviewed many of the main players from Marilyn's world (many no longer with us) and he was able to review unpublished notes of reporters who covered Marilyn when she was alive. Taraborrelli `s extensive research pays off with one of the most insightful books on Marilyn ever produced. The reader learns of the role Marilyn's mother actually played in her life; I won't give anything away but it is much more extensive than the public ever knew. I was also shocked to learn of the depth of Marilyn's mental problems, I mean any one familiar with her life story knows she had issues, but I never suspected how sick she truly was. This is not just a rehash of old material and I highly recommend it to all interested in this icon's story. For more fascinating Marilyn Monroe reading, do check out "Misfits Country" Marilyn brought to life during the filming of her final movie.
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54 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Meredith L. Grau on January 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have recently found myself reawakened by the mystique of Marilyn Monroe, perhaps because of the recent "Vanity Fair" article about her and the release of "Fragments." As such, I have entered into a research frenzy, gobbling up as much information about her as possible, reading new books, reviewing old biographies, etc. I read Taraborrelli's bio on Elizabeth Taylor years ago and enjoyed it, so I believed that his study of Marilyn would be equally intriguing, especially since the "kudos" and "bravos" on the back cover talked about how ingenius and ground-breaking his research was. Um... not really.

Not only have I read many other bios that have more fully investigated and humanized the tragic and iconic figure that MM has become, but basically everything he offers up has been communicated before. The only new information I was surprised by was his revelations about Marilyn's own symptoms of BPS (borderline paranoid schizophrenia) and her relationships with her mother, Gladys, and half sister, Berniece. Other than that, the book is only exceptional in its total lack of information. In his appendices, Taraborrelli even states that he didn't include a record of his source materials simply because he thought it tedious and "no one really checks that anyway." Again, really? Nearly every piece of new "evidence" that he introduces, which is consequently refuted in nearly every other preceding Marily bio, isn't backed up by any proof. He simply says, "this is the real truth, and the other claims were false." Well, why? If you're right, prove it to me.

He also fails to approach the damning evidence that authors such as Donald H. Wolfe, for example, bring against the Kennedys and their association with MM.
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47 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Valerie J. Wood VINE VOICE on September 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a detailed, fairly complex biography of Marilyn Monroe. I may not necessarily agree 100% with the conclusions that author reached, particularly towards the end of Marilyn's life, but there is a lot of interesting, intriguing information in this new biography. As an avid, avid fan of Miss Monroe, I have read just about every biography there is (that I know of!--I have over 75 books about MM as of my last count), as well as of other significant players in her life. So the idea of a new, comprehensive biography is something that I always look forward to.

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is extremely well written and researched, and gives the reader a new appreciation of Marilyn--particularly as relates to her early life and the events that helped shape her personality. The analysis of Marilyn's early life as Norma Jean Baker is perhaps the best overall assessment I have read yet. The author has taken time to put into perspective her early relationships with her foster families and relatives involved in her upbringing. The sad story of Norma Jean's mother, Gladys, is related in poignant detail throughout the book. The overall premise that Norma Jean/Marilyn was descending into the same schizo-paranoid type personality towards the end of her short life is the basis for many of the author's conclusions about MM. After reading about Marilyn's early life (Norma Jean) up to the point where she divorced Jim Dougherty, you truly get a sense of the uncertainty and insecurity of a girl who was shuffled from home to home and who was searching for family caring and love. Stories related in other biographies, particularly of childhood molestation, are pretty well put to rest according to author Taraborelli.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mark D. Mccardell on September 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I too am a huge Marilyn Monroe fan and have read every known book about her or those close to her that I could possibly dredge up. This is a good read and does have some new information. The author did find the one area about Marilyn nobody has paid enough attn to, her mother. Pretty heartbreaking. How Marilyn remained patient and loving towards Gladys as long as she did is beyond me. I did find irritating errors in the book tho. Gladys received in Marilyn s will $5000 per year, not $5000 per month. Paula Strassberg was paid $2500 a week to coach Marilyn for The Prince and the Showgirl, not $25,000 per week. It makes you wonder what else he got wrong!

I dont know what to make of the mental illness theme running thru the book.
To me the author kept trying to find cause and effect and I hope Marilyn s mental problems werent really to the degree suggested, altho I think borderline personality is accurate, schizophrenia, may be stretching it.

Marilyn s half sister, Bernice Miracle s book, My sister Marilyn was heavily sourced for background. The one thing I dont get is in that book Bernice said Marilyn met her father towards the end of her life. Why didnt the author discuss this and also try interviews with either Berniece or Mona Miracle on the subject? The author implies that Stan Gifford was the biological father but states in the book that Stans son vehemently denies this.The author doesnt exlain this at all. The author also actually at one point got confused as to possible fathers, including Jap Baker among the candidates. This was Bernice s father and long out of the picture when Marilyn was conceived. It would seem to me the 2 likliest candidates are either Stan Gifford or Edward Mortensen.
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