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Review: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

February 5, 2010

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli tells Marilyn Monroe’s life story from her difficult childhood to her tragic death.   Marilyn was born out of wedlock to Gladys Baker.  Both Gladys and her mother were mentally ill and from this book, it sounds like Marilyn was as well.

Marilyn was beautiful though, and oozed sex appeal, so she was able to parlay a modeling career into a successful acting career.  She turned in some solid performances but was often difficult to work with – coming to work late or not at all.

It appears Marilyn made poor choices in her personal life as well.  She was addicted to drugs and alcohol and often got involved in unhealthy relationships.  Even though she has been revered as a sex symbol and movie star, I found her life to be very sad.

Before I listened to the audio version of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, I really didn’t know that much about Marilyn Monroe, and now I can’t help but wonder what the fascination with her has been all these years.  There are several young actresses today who behave much the same way she did and they’re maligned by the press.   Having said that,  I do have to admit that I enjoyed the time I spent listening to the book.

Several facts, like the identity of Marilyn’s father, are revealed for the first time in this book.  There is an author interview, that includes never before seen photos, on the last CD, that shows just how well researched this book is.  Most of the new information Taraborelli discovered is about Marilyn’s mother.

The audio version of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is read by Robert Petkoff and he does different voices for different people, including several female voices, which took a little getting used to!  Overall, he does a great job, narrating this 7 CD, 8 hour production.

Challenges:  Books Won Reading Challenge

I won this book in a contest on A Sea of Books.   I am an Amazon Associate.
41 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2010 6:18 am

    I love books on Marlyn. This is new to me. Thanks 🙂

  2. February 5, 2010 6:57 am

    I love the sound of this book. It is definitely one I would enjoy reading. I have always been fascinated by her life.

  3. February 5, 2010 7:00 am

    I used to read a lot of books about Marilyn Monroe when I was in college. They really were interesting and tragic.

  4. February 5, 2010 7:11 am

    I read a feature in Reader’s Digest about her not long back. I would want to read more about her. Thanks for this review

  5. February 5, 2010 7:26 am

    Good review, such a sad story even after all these years. When a life is lost, for whatever reasons, it’s too painful.

  6. February 5, 2010 8:07 am

    For me it was her utter vulnerability…. The hurt she oozed along with the beauty.

  7. February 5, 2010 8:45 am

    This is one that I took from the library but never read. I’m glad I got a chance to read your review your review, and now I’m anxious to get it again.

    Thanks Kathy

  8. February 5, 2010 8:52 am

    I just read the chapter on the Kennedys in this book because I’ve read so much other stuff on Marilyn Monroe. I think it’s interesting how authors get so emotionally involved with her and the rumors about her life.

  9. February 5, 2010 9:03 am

    I’ve been fascinated with Marilyn Monroe, but I’ve not tried this book yet. It’s sad – the life she had. To the world, she had everything. I doubt she felt that way with all the miserable choices she made.

    Good review!

  10. February 5, 2010 9:09 am

    Great review! I got this book for Christmas and can’t wait to read it 🙂

  11. February 5, 2010 9:12 am

    I agree with Beth K. I think her vulnerability and her underlying naivete made her life so sad. This would make a good pick from library.

  12. February 5, 2010 10:28 am

    My older cousin really like Marilyn Monroe. She said she’s a fashion icon and that she’s really famous. That’s the only thing I know about her. The only photo I can’t forget is the one where she’s wearing white and the wind passed by and she held her dress down.. you know, the famous one.

    She made the wrong choices maybe because of her parents? It all starts with the roots, with the breeding. I need to ask Mom more about her.

  13. February 5, 2010 10:57 am

    a sad life. she had beauty and money and fame and it all ended so badly.

    any speculation in the book about her death?

  14. stacybuckeye permalink
    February 5, 2010 10:57 am

    I usually start these biographies and lose interest after awhile. Maybe I should try the audio. I’ve always loved watching Marilyn on screen, there’s something so compelling about her and it’s not just the sex appeal.
    Great review, Kathy! You’ve at least made me want to watch one of her movies 🙂

  15. February 5, 2010 12:09 pm

    Great review. I like Marilyn and find her life fascinating. I also like the image on the front cover you have posted here, she really looked great.

  16. February 5, 2010 12:30 pm

    Sounds interesting. I don’t know much about her and it would be fun to read the book. I’ll have to add it to my list.

  17. February 5, 2010 1:31 pm

    Sounds interesting as an audiobook. Thanks for your review, Kathy!

  18. February 5, 2010 1:41 pm

    I just don’t get the fascination with Marilyn Monroe. She was beautiful, though.

  19. February 5, 2010 1:51 pm

    The general public would have little to no knowledge of what was really going on in Marilyn’s life at that time; the studios really kept the lid on things. It does make you wonder what people would make of her now in a time when almost nothing can be kept quiet. Her beauty does transcend time.

  20. February 5, 2010 2:24 pm

    I’d recommend the autobiography that Marilyn herself wrote.. it broke my heart. I’ve got it around here somewhere (read it years ago) and will try to find it so I can post more info.

  21. February 5, 2010 2:38 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever watched one of Marilyn Monroe’s movies, but I did watch the movie about her a few years back. Such a sad story, all she wanted was to be loved. I agree with you that she had a mental illness, as well, especially considering it ran in her family.

  22. February 5, 2010 3:09 pm

    I’ve been very interested in this book because I don’t know that much about Marilyn Monroe, so I enjoyed reading your review. Sometimes it throws me when male audiobook narrators do women’s voices, so I might have to pass on the audiobook and see if I can find a print copy instead.

  23. February 5, 2010 3:55 pm

    I didn’t know they used men voices for women’s voices on audio. I wouldn’t like that either.

  24. February 5, 2010 3:56 pm

    Joyce Carol Oates has a book, a novel, written about her too.

  25. February 5, 2010 4:16 pm

    Marilyn was beautiful but her life was so tragic. I don’t understand the fascination either. I always felt bad for her too, because she was probably taken advantage of, and if you’re not smart or sane in the first place, it’s that much worse.
    Beautiful though.

  26. kadybug permalink
    February 5, 2010 5:47 pm

    I see a few people have mentioned their concern with a man doing a woman’s voice on an audiobook, and while it does sound a little strange I have to say 2 of the last 4 audiobooks I have listened to were read by Robert Petkoff. He has an excellent voice and is able to put such feeling into his characters.

  27. February 5, 2010 6:09 pm

    After reading Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates, I became interested in reading more about Monroe. Unfortunately, it never happened, but this book sounds interesting!

  28. February 5, 2010 7:10 pm

    I’ve watched a lot of her movies but have never read a book about her. I think this one sounds interesting since it reveals so many new things about her. I’ll have to check it out!

  29. February 5, 2010 9:25 pm

    I watched a documentary on Marilyn once and it was really very sad. I don’t think I would want to go into that again.

  30. February 5, 2010 10:51 pm

    I think her marriages were so interesting … I mean who marries both Joe DiMaggio AND Arthur Miller?

  31. February 5, 2010 10:56 pm

    I’ve always been captivated by Marilyn. She has an allure that no blonde today can hold a candle to, in my opinion. I saw this at Borders, and I’d really be interested in reading it (trite as I feel the superficial qualities of beauty and sex appeal are).

  32. February 5, 2010 11:15 pm

    I often thought that her personal life had to be a sad one….this sounds like an interesting book!

  33. February 5, 2010 11:27 pm

    Great review. Poor Marilyn! This does soud like an interesting read/listen.

  34. February 6, 2010 4:13 pm

    I think I’d like this. I don’t know why but I’ve always been fascinated by her life.

  35. February 7, 2010 5:10 am

    I don’t know much about Marilyn Monroe but I do know she’s an outstanding person. Thanks for the review, Kathy!

  36. February 7, 2010 2:18 pm

    My mom is a big fan of biographies so I have borrowed a few of hers on Marilyn and read them through the years. Her life was so, so sad!

  37. February 8, 2010 2:04 pm

    This book sounds like it has a lot of interesting and unique information! I’m interested in learning more about Marilyn Monroe, so I’ll make sure to pick this one up.

  38. February 8, 2010 3:52 pm

    I have always been really fascinated by Marilyn Monroe for some reason. I am not sure what it is about her that interests me, but it does. I loved this review and will be interested in reading this book, and am especially interested in the new information. Thanks for spotlighting this one!

  39. February 9, 2010 12:16 pm

    I’ve read a few books on famous actors though none on Marilyn Monroe. There is something about that whole era of film stars to which MM belongs that keeps us fascinated.

    All those voices from one narrator sounds a little confusing but I’m glad it was an enjoyable read for you.

  40. February 10, 2010 12:26 pm

    I don’t know much about Marilyn Monroe, so this sounds interesting.

  41. Didimoe permalink
    November 8, 2010 2:27 pm

    This book is fascinating, mezmerising (sp.) and oh so special. Just like the Taraborelli book on Elizabeth Taylor, I could not put it down.

    This is a must read for the straight truth with no bias and no hidden agenda from the author.

    I have a new found respect for Norma Jeane.

    Good job Mr. Taraborelli!

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