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The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
4 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Summary

From New York Times best-selling author J. Randy Taraborrelli comes the definitive biography of the most enduring icon in popular American culture.

When Marilyn Monroe became famous in the 1950s, the world was told that her mother was either dead or simply not a part of her life. However, that was not true. In fact, her mentally ill mother was very much present in Marilyn's world, and the complex family dynamic that unfolded behind the scenes is a story that has never before been told...until now.

In this groundbreaking book, Taraborrelli draws complex and sympathetic portraits of the women so influential in the actress' life, including her mother, her foster mother, and her legal guardian. He also reveals, for the first time, the shocking scope of Marilyn's own mental illness, the identity of Marilyn's father and the half-brother she never knew, and new information about her relationship with the Kennedy's - Bobby, Jack, and Pat Kennedy Lawford.

Explosive, revelatory, and surprisingly moving, this is the final word on the life of one of the most fascinating and elusive icons of the 20th century.

©2009 J. Randy Taraborrelli (P)2009 Hachette

Critic reviews

"As Taraborrelli brushes away cobwebs of myth and rumor, his remarkable research and fluid writing captures Marilyn's élan, sensitivity, desperation and despair with a haunting intimacy." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

Very good! Obviously a bit sad as the subject is Marilyn, but it was fluently written, well reasearched and interesting. I do like Taraborelli bios although he's not for everyone. I've read quite a few books about her and think this is one of the better ones. I think it was well read and, yes, the narrator does make a funny "marilyn" voice, but after a while you just go with the flow and get used to it. Overall I thought it was very well read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Recommended

I enjoyed this book, but I wish the narrator had refrained to imitate Marilyn and other voices when quoting them

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

secret life

The book came across as well researched, it was engaging and well presented.
The only two points i didn't enjoy were how the narrator spoke when speaking in Marilyn's voice mainly because he was a man. At times i felt the author had less empathy than necessary for Monroe's difficulties.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An interesting listen

It’s a shame this audio book is abridged, but it’s still worth a listen for any Monroe fan. I normally really like this narrator but he should stay clear of English accents. His Lawford was okay but his English housekeeper was terrible!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Honest Telling

This is a book that tells an honest account of the life of a woman that has crossed for many into myth and legend. From Marilyn's humble origins to her meteoric rise. Her feet never strayed far from the ground mostly borne out of a preoccupation with her own mental health. The detailed description of her drug taking is an eye opener. This book is also swift to debunk and affirm certain myths and facts that surrounded Marilyn Monroe based on extensive research.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very insighful,Taraborelli writes good biographies

I've read many books by Taraborelli and have never dislike on, he is very good at being objective, so the biography of Marylin is told from many viewpoints, juxtaposed opposed opinion and proven facts.
If like myself you are interested in how this iconic woman remains ever more interesting to generations in the 21st century, this insighful book tells how and why. she is as remembered and celebrated as Diana Princess of Wales, who also died before finding personal happiness whike being adored around the world. Highly recommended, good narrator

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Compelling story compromised by the narrator

This is a tragic story - although I expect everyone knows that already. What is fascinating is the insight into Marilyn Monroe 's mental health. Her psychosis, her bipolar, her substance abuse is all quite vivid. Additionally her sense of isolation, her rootless existence, her inability to be perceived as anything but a sex symbol. This is a great account that works behind the facade of Hollywood glamour and shows the taudry loneliness of being someone who really you are not.

The quality of the writing is robust and enjoyable. It doesn't become too trashy to be credible, it isn't too dry or academic to become boring.

The personalities that float in and out the narrative - some very famous of course - are as colourful, warped and bizarre as the subject herself.

What is very off putting, however, is the narrator. He insists on exercising as many voices as he can. Crucially his voice for Marilyn Monroe is dreadful and sounds more like a Michael Jackson impersonation. I just about put up with it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

One of the best books on the life of Marilyn

loved it. such a sad story! honestly portrayed and good narration once you get use to Robert's female impersonations.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I have read other biographies by this author and had found him heavy on detail and facts but this book was very light.
OK but nothing more.

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  • JayefromJersey
  • 01-08-14

Truly was a secret

Would you listen to The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe again? Why?

No , once was enough

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe?

How she lived with her husbands, she truly was abused.

What does Robert Petkoff bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He did a good job with his narration, but I think it would have been better if it was a female narrator.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Marilyn, she really was not a dumb blonde

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • LJM VO
  • 17-11-16

A Fluff Piece

Nothing at all new . If you've read other bios about her life don't even bother with this one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Linda
  • 21-05-12

Interesting but not earthshaking.

A well-performed, well-written biography of an icon. There is nothing startling in the book but it is a good all round account of the life of a Hollywood personality. Marilyn Monroe appears to be yet another personality used and abused by the system prevalent in Hollywood.

I cannot recall having heard the word "however" used more frequently by a writer. It became something of a distraction.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joan
  • 18-04-12

Great!

I never knew how interesting biographies could be. This is a fascinating book about a fascinating woman. A great listen!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lorelei Lee
  • 01-12-11

Excellent story as well as narration!

This was a very fascinating story and the narrator did a great job in expressing emotions behind the words.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Deb
  • 06-05-12

The ring of truth....

What about Robert Petkoff’s performance did you like?

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr Petkoff's performance, not many men would be able to give voice to Marilyn Monroe, but he certainly does. I will look for other titles which he narrates.

Any additional comments?

The life of Marilyn Monroe is surely one of the most popular biographies of modern times. Most, however, have the feeling of sensationalism. This book feels more realistic and down to earth. I feel like I have heard the 'real' story of the her life.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-10-19

Terrible all around!

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is not a good source of information and the performance is grating at best with some of the various voice impressions being annoying and even downright rude at some points. Theres a lot of liberties taken throughout the book, a lot of unkind assumptions and a bunch of discrediting of the people whom knew Marilyn as simply people riding her coat tails while saying anything to keep themselves relevant and associated with Marilyn- which is funny coming from people writing a book about marilyn whom never knew her. Theres a bunch of really important information left out, for instance the humiliation and sexual abuse marilyn suffered during her "lost" weekend at the hands of the mob, pictures taken of her in compromising positions by mobsters, some her "lover" Sinatra kept. (why did Sinatra have those mobsters there with her anyway - weird) as well as the extreme sex addiction of JFK (a rapist by some accounts, an undeniable predator by others, a definite hit and run f**kboy, stupid Marilyn for not realizing the trash characterof the Kennedys) the fact that Arthur Miller only married Marilyn out of sexual compulsion, one he equates to teenage masturbation in his autobiographical play After The Fall - as if she where something to be ashamed of, and he was remarried very shortly after separating from Marilyn, which definitely led to one of those "unexplainable downward spirals " mentioned throughout this book. In The Misfits Miller used real publicity pictures of Marilyn Monroe to show a past career that Monroe's character Roslyn is supposed to be embarrassed of - Miller was a plague. Natasha Lytess was bilking Marilyn for thousands while simultaneously attempting to turn her off men and was sexually and emotionally manipulating her at the same time. The Burt Stern (or Stein, I forget) photoshoot that left Marilyn devastated by the inconsistent images - some great some extremely awful, and his callous attitude toward her feelings over them, and his disrespectful use of photos he promised her he wouldnt use. Which brings me to her scars and all the complaints over her being "sick" all of the time - endometriosis is excruciating! depending on what stage she had, some women deal with their inner organs fusing together because of it - its probably what led to her miscarriages. Everybody around Marilyn used her as a huge cash cow, or fetishized her, some did both. Everybody felt her "problems" were aggravating and not worth dealing with, yet they all took whatever they could from her. Marilyn Monroe is a very sad story of disfunction and abuse and the physical manifestations of both. I agree with the final assumption in this book- marilyn took drugs that ended her life, I just disagree with how she got to that point - theres so much more f*uckery than this book allows for.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Preston26
  • 06-08-19

So-so

I think this was well researched and overall very well put together. However that said, the consistent worship of Marilyn was a bit much to stomach. I would have preferred a more impartial presentation of her life.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Vanessa Laloggia
  • 11-04-19

Author Poor

The author could not use the word “moreover” more 🙄 throughout the entire book. Poorly written

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jacqueline Morales
  • 06-10-18

tragic and beautiful

highly recommend for anyone interested in learning more about old Hollywood stars and the tragic story if Marylin Monroe