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Marilyn Monroe

The Private Life of a Public Icon
Narrated by: Therese Plummer
Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Summary

Based on new interviews and research, this ground-breaking biography reveals how Marilyn Monroe's childhood contributed to her struggle with bi-polar disorder, and impacted her career and personal life. 

Marilyn Monroe. Her beauty still captivates. Her love life still fascinates. Her story still dominates popular culture. Now, drawing on years of research and dozens of new interviews this biography cuts through decades of lies and secrets and introduces you to the Marilyn Monroe you always wanted to know: a living, breathing, complex woman, bewitching and maddening, brilliant yet flawed. 

Charles Casillo studies Monroe’s life through the context of her times - in the days before feminism. Before there was adequate treatment for bipolar disorder. Starting with her abusive childhood, this biography exposes how - in spite of her fractured psyche - Marilyn managed to transform each celebrated love affair and each tragedy into another step in her journey towards immortality. Casillo fully explores the last two years of her life, including her involvement with both John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, and the mystery of her last day.   

Just a few of Casillo's revelations:

  • Despite reports of their bitter rivalry, Elizabeth Taylor secretly called Marilyn when she was fired from her last film to offer moral and financial support.
  • Film of a rumored nude love scene with Clark Gable was said to have been destroyed - but an exclusive interview reveals that it still exists.
  • A meticulously detailed account of the events of her last day, revealing how a series of miscommunications and misjudgments contributed to her death.
©2018 Charles Casillo (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

“After all I've seen and heard about Marilyn Monroe, this book is a revelation, an earthy, empathic vision of a real woman who happened to be an ethereal goddess.” (Mary Gaitskill, best-selling author of Bad Behavior and The Mare)

“Casillo explores the myriad facets of Monroe’s personality with a respectful but incisive eye...an intricately nuanced portrait of this misunderstood idol.... A worthy addition to the Monroe canon.” (Booklist)

“A well-written examination of the mystique of a woman who still fascinates decades after her untimely death.” (Publishers Weekly)

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Fantastic! I couldn’t get enough 💕💕💕💕💋

What a fantastic book! I was addicted to it from the start and couldn’t stop listening. A million stars 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

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Not great

Whilst I find a need to keep listening this was disappointing. The story jumped around and I struggled to follow it. The narrator was patronising sounding more like a children's narrator. I did not get past half way so it may have got better. Please do not take my work for the whole book.

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  • Reggie
  • 25-11-18

Good introductory text. Little new for aficionados

Casillo has written a well-paced and literally assessable narrative. His criticisms are even-handed, written with a journalist's commitment to objectivity (for the sake of this review we stipulate, whether it's true or not, that objectivity is a goal of journalists) and clarity; his arguments are well-reasoned and cogent. I would recommend this book to anyone newly curious about Marilyn's life, with a few caveats:

I can appreciate Casillo's aversion to the more outlandish claims about Marilyn's life. Authors have exploited Monroe in death as others did during her lifetime. Norman Mailer famously admitted that much of the salacious material in his biographical essay on Marilyn's life was fabricated; written to maximize book sales, because he "needed the money." No doubt others did the same. That Casillo chose to limit his scope to Marilyn's lifetime, and reasonably well-established facts, is fine, but potential readers should know that there's much more to the story.

In 2018 (when this book was published) any story of Marilyn Monroe's life really should include a nod to Marilyn lore. One need not elaborate on, or give credence to, the myriad hypotheticals and speculations about Marilyn's life and death, but a brief sketch of Marilyn historiography only further illustrates the lasting impact of her life and imprint on the collective psyche of global popular culture. Casillo ignores most of the controversial elements in Marilyn's story and in doing so attenuates the narrative to the detriment of his readers' understanding of her life. Was Marilyn a pawn of the KGB, sent to seduce and elicit Top Secret information from the President of the United States during post-coital pillow talk? Almost certainly not, but a lot of people believe strongly that indeed such a plot existed. The mere mention of such theories does not imply endorsement, and the omission is a bummer, if not a deal-breaker.

Aficionados won't find much new in this book. The promotional material on Audible and Amazon state that it's based on new interviews and research, but that material, and Casillo's research, seems to consist largely of watching the, admittedly remarkable, video now available on YouTube. And while Casillo's analysis of these videos is not particularly insightful, again we can understand this editorial decision. Watch the test footage, dear reader, of Something's Gotta Give, on YouTube then try to describe it. We just don't have the words...

I would recommend this book to Marilyn neophytes. Fans of MM biographies will enjoy it too (I did. I'd give it 3 1/2 stars if I could), but you won't find anything new.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda Barber
  • 17-11-18

THE REAL DIRT

I am a Marilyn fanatic, and Charles Casillo's book is the most satisfying fact filled account I have ever read. This is the real skinny on who she loved, why she was always late. If you are curious about the great Marilyn Monroe this book is sure to satisfy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-01-19

Just ok

Ok story. Expected more juicy tidbits about Marilyn and the President or even Bobby but I didn’t get. The story needed a better more interesting reader, very bland and boring.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gordon Wilson
  • 20-10-18

Marilyn Is a Sad Story

Mostly I just felt sad for Marilyn as I read the story. And, I think the author's assessment of her talent is over-rated. I went back while listening to the book and watched some of her movies. She was an okay actress, but not a great one. She had a sad sad life. The pills and booze and the endless promiscuity ruined her. She had no moral core. I couldn't finish the book; I quite with just over five hours remaining. Her life was one big train wreck. I hope she can find some peace now.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • mark janicki
  • 13-06-19

Pronunciations

Great narration except for the names of famous Hollywood folks being mispronounced. Elia Kazan (eelya) and Leslie Caron(carone), and there’s no need to put on a deeper false baritone when quoting a man’s comments. Otherwise, an exceptional speaking voice that draws the listener in.

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  • Jaini Phelps
  • 31-05-19

Sexy, sad, and seductive just like Marilyn.

this book and its narrator are wonderful. The author gives the listener a sneak peek behind the red velvet drapes.

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  • Joseph
  • 13-03-19

Amazing, inspiring, depressing, and awesome all at once.

This was incredibly well written and the narration is superb. I would definitely recommend if you want to learn about Marilyn.

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  • Erick DuPree
  • 04-11-18

Epic! Surreal, it's like Marilyn herself.

This is hands-down the best Marilyn bio I've ever read, and one of the best audio books I've ever listened to. The book tells a powerful, sympathetic but honest story of Marilyn Monroe that empowers the reader to understand the complexity of Norma Jean the girl, Marilyn Monroe the icon and Marilyn the person; and how each were the same and yet different. We come to know the exploitation, the genius as well as why Marilyn was adored by the public and hated by Hollywood.

The audiobook is perfection, which in part is likely due to the exquisite writing. That said, you feel at times the Marilyn herself is talking and you are part of a secret dialogue- it is truly remarkable. It's by far the best!