A tedious exposé of Marilyn Monroe’s last days commemorates the 50th anniversary of her death.
Badman (Beatles Off the Record, 2008, etc.) plunges headlong into the overcrowded field of Monroe-themed books (“almost 700” by the author’s count) with this nearly day-by-day account of her life from June 1961 to her death in August 1962. After dispensing with her early years in a decent, if rushed, prelude, the author bogs down in minutiae, detailing the amounts paid for household expenses, the airline numbers of various flights and hourly itineraries for her social outings. Badman fares better when he sticks to discussing Monroe’s fraught personal and professional lives. Living off the proceeds from 1959’s blockbuster Some Like It Hot, she embarked on the debacle of preparing to star in Something’s Got to Give, a film so entrenched in snafus that it deserves a biography of its own. Having recently turned 35, Monroe was beginning to feel the cold shoulder that Hollywood has traditionally shown women entering middle age, and her own insecurities and reliance on barbiturates led to relationships with unscrupulous hangers-on. Most bizarrely, her psychiatrist insisted on daily sessions, prescribed the potent sedative chloral hydrate, which contributed to her death, and even installed a spy/housekeeper in her home to report back to him on Monroe’s doings. Along with the fact that the FBI was bugging her home and that she counted shady Rat Pack actors like Peter Lawford and Frank Sinatra as her friends, her lonely death comes across as an inevitability, accidental or not.
Badman doesn’t so much reveal new information about Monroe as recycle the old into something tawdry and depressing.