JOE AND MARILYN by C. David Heymann


Legends in Love
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A posthumous work about the star-crossed lovers by the biographer of Kennedys and others.

Once again, we enter the disturbing world of Marilyn Monroe: the childhood, adolescence, marriages, drugs, psychiatry, sex and abuse by just about everyone who entered the powerful gravitational field of this troubled human being. Although Heymann (Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story, 2009, etc.) focuses on her relationship with Joe DiMaggio (before, during and after their brief marriage in 1954), he cannot help but be drawn close to the discomfiting fire of Monroe. The author gets close enough to everyone to photograph their imperfections: Monroe’s profound insecurity and addictions, DiMaggio’s initial cluelessness about what it means to love someone (he did learn, however), Arthur Miller’s passion for Monroe (it cooled considerably once her whirlpool drew him in and down), and the Kennedy brothers’ cruel pursuit of her sexual favors. Heymann tells us that she believed she would become the first lady—either with JFK in his second term or with RFK. We also see the profoundly unethical behavior of the medical and mental health professionals who dealt with her, issuing endless prescriptions for sedatives and sharing her private revelations with DiMaggio. However, Heymann dismisses conspiracy theories about the “murder” of Monroe, and the Everest of evidence he cites about her drug and alcohol use makes his case convincing. It’s evident that the author, who died in 2012 before he finished the book, did not get to attend to it all. There are sections that have a cut-and-paste feel about them—long uninterrupted quotations from others, passages he surely would have summarized and integrated into his own prose.

A well-researched story of dark stars whose dingy lights continue to shine.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9177-4
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2014


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