NORMA JEAN: The Life of Marilyn Monroe by Fred Lawrence Guiles

NORMA JEAN: The Life of Marilyn Monroe

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the first biography to appear since Maurice Zolotow's Marilyn Monroe (1960) which predated her tragic death. It uses the same Freudian approach with the emphasis on why rather than how she became the peculiarly pathetic legend. There is much time spent with the neurotic forebears--her grandmother Della suffered from ""manic-depressive psychosis"" and died in an institution as did her brother; her mother also suffered from ""paranoid schizophrenia"" and was in and out of hospitals throughout her erratic life. But, according to Mr. Guiles, Norma Jean weathered her displaced early years with a kind of an adjustable acceptance--until she was placed in a home. We see her in various phases with the different families she lived with and the introduction of an almost inexcusable selfishness in her first marriage as Norma Jean turned into Marilyn, model. Then there was the Hollywood buildup with mentors Ben Lyon, Joe Schenck and the omnipresent Natasha Lytess, her coach. And the rejection of her sexual image as Marilyn discovered the Actor's Studio and the benevolent direction of Lee and Paula Strasberg. Marriages, misery, affairs and Nembutal sum up the final years as friends and family fail to put their ""Golden Girl"" back together again. If you can forgive the author his own rather abrasive amateur psychological assumptions and his recording angel dialogues, you will find a thorough biography. But Marilyn herself still remains an elusive subject. She was indeed ""a kind of living abstraction. She was what you believed her to be.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1969
Publisher: McGraw-Hill