A twentieth century icon whose life remains fascinating and endlessly mysterious, even more than forty years after her death, Marilyn Monroe still grabs our attention as no other star of her time.

In Leaming’s portrait (published in 1998), I learned a lot that I hadn’t gleaned from any other tome about this captivating star. One thing remains true through all the books on the subject, however: Marilyn had a sad and lonely childhood; struggled in her adulthood; and died tragically, still chasing the demons that plagued her all the days of her life. Fearing abandonment and a repeat of all the other losses she suffered throughout her life, she often sabotaged herself and became the kind of person people would turn away from.

Needy, frightened, paranoid—these traits all could describe her. And in her effort to gain the love, the respect, and the attention of others, she often pushed away the very things she desired. She did, however, show a determination and a unique ability to capture her audiences, which kept her a valuable asset for the Hollywood system for a long time.

Unfortunately, she also trusted and depended on the wrong people, who seemingly basked in her dependency. Even her psychiatrist, at the end, played right into the abandonment drama she feared the most.

In this book I learned a lot about the whole industry/studio system and the drama that unfolded around stars like Marilyn. More than I wanted to know, actually. Sometimes these tedious and unending details took away from the star and her life. I did enjoy details about the people she met, the relationships, and her homes: always part of that elusive thing she sought.

This was the saddest story of Marilyn that I’ve read, and I applaud the author’s research and efforts. However, for the reasons I mentioned, I’m giving the story 3.5 stars.

Please leave your thoughts. Comments, not awards, feed my soul. Thanks!

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