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The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe


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 In addition to interviews with everyone from Janet Leigh to Secret Service agents, Taraborrelli read the unpublished notes and interviews of reporters from the 1950s.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.

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Tags: Monroe, Marilyn, Elizabeth, Taylor, Diana, Marilyn, Secret, Monroe