The Fascination With Marilyn Monroe: A Look At The First Six Books About Her
Sometime during the evening or early morning hours of August 4 or 5th 1962 Marilyn Monroe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 36. Even after fifty years to the day that she died, Marilyn Monroe may be more popular now than when she was living. Her movies are what propelled her to fame and are the way people today primarily become familiar with Marilyn. Her image is part of our popular culture. But books about Marilyn have helped her achieve a level of immortality that is not shared by any other star.
By a wide margin no other entertainment personality has been covered in books more than Marilyn Monroe. Elvis would run a distant second. Since 1953 there have been slightly more than 200 books in English that are directly about Marilyn Monroe. There are dozens more that have been printed in other languages and hundreds of others that contain chapters about her.
Her movie career spanned from 1947-1962, yet only six books were written about Marilyn while she was living, with various levels of cooperation from the star herself.
The first book written about Marilyn was published with little fanfare on October 29, 1953. The Marilyn Monroe Story by Joe Franklin and Laurie Palmer, (1953 Rudolph Field Co.) distributed by Greenberg. The book retailed in paperback for $1.00 and hardcover for $2.00. It is considered the rarest and most collectible book about Marilyn and very good condition paperback copies sell for upwards of $200 and hardcovers without the dustjacket fetch over $300 and with a nice dustjacket can sell for $700 or more.
So besides being the first book about Marilyn what makes it rare? In the early 1990’s I mentioned I owned a copy of his Marilyn book to author Joe Franklin and the longtime radio and television host told me quite a story about the book.
Instead of the typical movie publicity or glamor photographs of Marilyn Monroe, we thought we’d highlight three photographs that show Marilyn in a bit of a different light.
Betty Grable and her How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) co-star Marilyn Monroe emerge from a Hollywood restaurant. Grable who was 20th Century Fox’s blond bombshell for most of the 1940’s was being “replaced” by Monroe. Grable was relieved as she was getting tired of fighting with Daryl F. Zanuck, Fox’s studio chief. Supposedly she told Marilyn privately, “Honey, I’ve had my time in the spotlight, now it’s your turn!”
Marilyn takes a break and kneels on the steps of a brownstone while filming Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch(1955). A portion of the film was shot on location in New York City. The brownstone where the lead character, Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) lives with Marilyn subletting the apartment above him, is located at 164 East 61st Street. The building is still there, though somewhat modified.
Marilyn Monroe with a very dour looking Joe DiMaggio in Florida in 1961. Monroe was visiting DiMaggio, who was a special instructor to the New York Yankees during spring training. After their nine month marriage ended in divorce in 1954, the couple remained friends and got closer as the years passed. There were rumors that Monroe and DiMaggio were contemplating remarrying one another when Monroe passed away in 1962.
Marilyn Monroe and Edward R. Murrow Share a Smoke, April 1, 1955
The caption for this press photo is:
News Commentator Edward R. Murrow holds a match to the cigarette Marilyn Monroe extends to her puckered lips, during discussions at the Ambassador Hotel in New York regarding the luscious actress’ forthcoming appearance on Murrow’s “Person To Person” television show. Scheduled for April 8th, the TV show will be the second one Miss Monroe has ever done.
Well, I didn’t pay that kind of money. But somebody did.
When movie star Debbie Reynolds abandoned her long-time dream of having a museum to showcase the history of Hollywood, the treasures which she had been accumulating for decades, went to the auction block. A good portion of the nearly 600 lots sold for significantly more than their high estimate.
Charlton Heston’s robe from Planet of the Apes (1968) went for $13,530 (all prices include buyers premium). Yes it is the costume Heston’s character Taylor wears during much of the film, but it really is a rag isn’t it? There were fantastic costumes that were available and I suppose if you wanted to own movie history and you had a budget to adhere to, this raggy robe was as good as anything. I’d like to see the new owner actually wear it. In public. Continue reading →
An 85-year-old Marilyn would be difficult to imagine. She died at age 36 under mysterious circumstances during the evening of August 4 or early morning August 5, 1962, depending upon what version of her death you are apt to believe.
If she were alive today, I think she might look somewhat like her mother Gladys did at a similar age. Gladys died at the age of 81 in 1984.
The New York Post reported on May 31 that unseen Marilyn photos found at a garage sale in 1980 may soon be put up for sale. If they are, they will fetch a lot of money.
Marilyn was one of the most photographed people of all-time so there are always going to be “new’ photos of her popping up.