The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

by J. Randy Taraborrelli


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When Norma Jeane Baker became famous as Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s, she said her mother, Gladys Baker, was either dead or not a part of her life, depending on the publicity campaign of the moment. However, neither was true. Marilyn's mentally ill mother was very much present in her world, and the complex family drama that unfolded behind the scenes is a story that has never before been told ... until now.

Here J. Randy Taraborrelli draws detailed portraits of the people so influential in Marilyn's life. He tells the heartbreaking story of a world-famous daughter dealing secretly with a parent's severe paranoid schizophrenia-and exposes the shocking scope of Marilyn's own mental deterioration. Taraborrelli also uncovers the identity of Marilyn's real father and the half-brother she never knew, as well as the truth about her relationship with the Kennedys-Jack, Bobby, and Pat Kennedy Lawford. Based on decades of new research and including the most complete filmography ever compiled, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is the final word on one of the most fascinating and elusive legends of the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446198189
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 09/28/2010
Pages: 559
Sales rank: 88,902
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

J. Randy Taraborrelli is a respected journalist, a recognizable entertainment personality, and in-demand guest on many television programs including Today, Good Morning America, The Early Show, Entertainment Tonight, and CNN Headline News. He is the bestselling author of thirteen books.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Prologue 1

Part 1 The Beginning 7

Norma Jeane's Foster Mother, Ida 9

Norma Jeane's Grandmother, Della 12

Marilyn's Mother, Gladys 17

Norma Jeane Is Born 22

Della's Terrible Fate 25

Living with the Bolenders 28

A Frightening Encounter with Gladys 33

Ida Wants to Adopt Norma Jeane 37

"Now It's Time to Know Your Mother" 39

A New-and Temporary-Life 44

The Voices Return 50

Grace Is Norma Jeane's Legal Guardian 55

Norma Jeane's Troubling Visit with Gladys 58

Norma Jeane in an Orphanage 60

Grace v. Ida 66

Norma Jeane Learns She Has a Half Sister 70

Norma Jeane Marries 72

Part 2 Transitioning 79

Crazy? 81

Gladys's Clever Plan 84

Trouble in Paradise 87

Overnight Success 91

Gladys Is Released 94

Gladys's Plea to Norma Jeane 96

Jim Gets a Surprise: Gladys 99

How Gladys Lost Her Children 101

The First Norma Jeane 106

Jim's Ultimatum 108

Final Cofrontation

Norma Jeane Signs with 20th Century-Fox 112

Part 3 Marilyn 117

Marilyn Trying to Understand Gladys 119

Getting Through to Gladys? 124

Wayne Bolender's Fatherly Advice 128

Giving Up Her Soul 130

Natasha 135

Disappointment 138

Johnny Hyde 140

Gladys Marries 145

Fifty Bucks for Nudity? 147

Part 4 Stardom 151

Unwelcome Visitors 153

The Asphalt Jungle 156

All About Eve 158

Dumb as a Blonde Fox 161

Suicide over Johnny? 165

Marilyn Tries to Meet Her "Father" 168

Early Films 172

Jasper Dies 174

Don't Bother to Knock 177

Joe DiMaggio 180

The Nude Calendar Scandal 186

Gladys: "I'd Like to Have My Child's Love" 189

Marilyn and Joe: Tumultuous Already? 194

Gladys's Surprise Visit 196

Niagara 200

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 202

Gladys Threatens Grace 205

Gladys's New Home 209

How to Marry a Millionaire 212

River of No Return 215

Part 5 Difficult Times 217

Grace's Upsetting Secret 219

Grace Learns About Marilyn's Troubles 221

A Graceful Exit 225

A Shocking Discovery About Grace 226

Marilyn's Rebellion 229

Natasha Continues Her Dual Purpose 232

Mrs. DiMaggio 234

There's No Business Like Show Business 239

The Seven Year Itch 242

Marilyn Divorces Joe 246

Sinatra 249

The Wrong Door Raid 253

Marilyn in New York 259

Arthur Miller 268

Why Marilyn Was Investigated by the FBI 272

Bus Stop 274

Natasha Non Grata 276

Part 6 Vioces 281

The Misery of Arthur Miller 283

Marilyn and Arthur Marry 285

The Prince and the Showgirl 287

Arthur Miller's Damning Journal 293

Quiet Before the Storm 296

Marilyn's Depression 301

Some Like It Hot 306

A Sign from God? 312

Part 7 Slow Death 315

Giving Voice to the Voices 317

Marilyn and Pat 323

The Misfits 331

No Relief 338

Marilyn Is Committed 344

"You Are a Very, Very Sick Girl" 347

"I'm Locked Up with These Poor Nutty People" 350

"How Dare You Betray Me!" 353

Gladys's Sheets, Soaked with Blood 355

Returning to the Safety of Sinatra 358

A Reunion with Berniece 365

Greenson's Diagnosis 370

A Second Opinion 374

Marilyn's Drugs of Choice 376

Dr. Greenson in Control 383

Eunice Murray 387

Part 8 The Kennedys 391

Kennedy Style 393

Marilyn and Bobby 398

JFK: "Finally! You're Here!" 403

Notorious Players 406

Marilyn's Weekend with the President 409

Something's Got to Give 412

Marilyn's Fascination with the President 415

Marilyn's Surprise Visit to Pat 419

An Overdose Because of JFK? 421

Were Marilyn and Bobby "The New Item"? 422

Bobby: "The President Wants It and I Want It" 428

"Happy Birthday, Mr. President" 433

Part 9 Sad Endings 441

Marilyn Fired 443

Gladys: "I Don't Say Goodbye" 449

Pat: "My Friend Is Dying" 457

The Lost Weekend 461

"Maybe" 467

Final Curtain 470

Appendices 477

After Marilyn 479

After Marilyn's Death 479

Glady's Life After Marilyn 482

Perspective: Marilyn and the Kennedys 485

The FBI's Files on Marilyn 489

The John Miner Transcripts 492

Acknowledgments 495

Sources and Other Notes 503

Marilyn Monroe Filmography 527

Index 542

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The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 161 reviews.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
One would think that of all the billions of words written about Marilyn Monroe everything had been made public - at least twice. Not so we discover in The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe. Celebrity biographer Taraborrelli who is known for digging deeper than most for collecting data about his subjects really went over the top with this one. He interviewed innumerable sources, all documented in his itemized 30 pages of interviews; everyone from James Dougherty, Marilyn's first husband, to Arthur Miller, whom he found "Maddeningly difficult and not at all open, to Peter Lawford to Mitzi Gaynor. Perhaps some of the most revelatory information found in this book comes from the files released in 2006 under the Freedom of Information Act. The author details a "truly extraordinary" 3-page document containing information by an FBI agent describing the relationship between Marilyn and Robert Kennedy. This volume (and it is a volume - 560 pages with previously unpublished photographs) will probably stand as the ultimate word on the ill-fated star. Unfortunately, it is a sad story, sadder than many of us knew. Gladys Baker, her mother who was denied in many publicity releases, was mentally ill suffering from severe paranoid schizophrenia. Marilyn's early years were spent at the Los Angeles Orphans' Home. To come from those circumstances to become one of the most famous movie stars in the world is quite a feat. Regrettably, it seems to have taken a dreadful toll as Marilyn began to deteriorate mentally. For those who want the definitive story of the woman called the world's greatest sex symbol, here it is, filled with details and minutia from the day she was born until the hour of her untimely death. Taraborrelli has completed a yeoman's task in presenting the story of Marilyn Monroe. One only wishes it could have had a happy ending. - Gail Cooke
Alla_S More than 1 year ago
In the "Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe," J. Randy Taraborrelli explores the enigmatic life of perhaps the most famous actress of the twentieth century. He introduces the reader to Norma Jean Mortensen, an unlikely future Hollywood phenomenon, who spends her childhood being an unwanted guest, moved around to different houses and caretakers, as she grows up fatherless and nearly motherless-with Gladys Monroe being institutionalized in various mental facilities. Armed with extensive research and interviews from the people who knew Marilyn best, Taraborrelli explores Norma Jean's surprising transformation into Marilyn Monroe and her life in the limelight. Most interesting is Marilyn's relationships with men, which Taraborrelli meticulously details in the book. While few were aware of her first husband, Jim Dougherty, Marilyn's future lovers featured the crème de la crème of American society in the 1950s-celebrities like Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, Frank Sinatra, and President John Kennedy among others. However, as Taraborrelli sensationally reveals in this book, despite her incredible success with the opposite sex and her unbelievable movie career, Marilyn was constantly plagued by issues which ultimately led to her death. Some of those issues included her troublesome mother, Marilyn's own growing mental problems, her broken down relationships, fear of abandonment, a spiraling out of control drug addiction, on-going conflicts with Twentieth Century Fox which culminated in her being fired, and a growing obsession with the Kennedys that would mark her last months and potentially contribute to her death. Through it all, Taraborrelli weaves an intriguing portrayal of a Hollywood superstar. Unlike other biographies, he stays away from theories or gossip, and focuses on the facts-making it not only comprehensive but a reliable source of information. Taraborrelli's writing is crisp and to the point, exploring not only the Marilyn Monroe persona, but the real person behind the mask who was undeniably very different from the carefully created media façade we know today. An added bonus is the inclusion of rare Marilyn Monroe photographs and a meticulous appendix at the end of the book. This book will undoubtedly be an interesting read for not only Marilyn's fans, but for anyone looking to be entertained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book, I think this is as accurate an account of her life and death as any of us will ever know. The author had no bias and took facts and examained them from all sides. The pictures at the end added to the the final chapter.
FantasyAndFiction More than 1 year ago
I loved the way this book was written! It touched on all aspects of her life; her young life, her self made family, her men, her transition and her everlasting inprint in HOLLYWOOD. This book paints a very detailed image of her "Secret Life." Although some people were hoping that "Secret Life" meant scandel in Hollywood; you soon learn that " Secret Life" was used to describe her unknown troubles and broken family issues. Hollywood scadals are no more than frabricated gossip and twisted truths. Real fans are looking for something deeper than that! This book gives fans the answers they are looking for.
Bill_PullmanBP More than 1 year ago
As a huge fan of MM I thought I knew just about all there was to know about this fascinating lady, but Taraborrelli proved me wrong. Using fresh research, including some files recently released by the government, the author adds more color to the affair between Marilyn and President Kennedy, info supplied by an FBI agent who was documenting the affair at the time it occurred! He also interviewed many of the main players from Marilyn's world (many no longer with us) and he was able to review unpublished notes of reporters who covered Marilyn when she was alive. Taraborrelli 's extensive research pays off with one of the most insightful books on Marilyn ever produced. The reader learns of the role Marilyn's mother actually played in her life; I won't give anything away but it is much more extensive than the public ever knew. I was also shocked to learn of the depth of Marilyn's mental problems, I mean any one familiar with her life story knows she had issues, but I never suspected how sick she truly was. This is not just a rehash of old material and I highly recommend it to all interested in this icon's story. For more fascinating Marilyn Monroe reading, do check out "Misfits Country" Marilyn brought to life during the filming of her final movie.
LeighAnnLuvsReading More than 1 year ago
Tearing through the lies and revealing the truth! This book was absolutely written with the up most brilliance. It began with her tragic childhood and ended with her tragic death, just like any other Marilyn Monroe bio, but there was a significant difference. The author tapped in to her SECRET LIFE. It gave great detail on her youth, her transition, her illness and her many men. THE SECRET: SHE IS AND EVER SHALL BE NORMA JEAN!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ill admit im quite fascinated by this woman, but i didnt know even half of the things that this book contained. I never wanted to put it down, i brought it everywhere just incase i would have a few minutes to read. I would definetly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so detailed and so intimate! I felt like I was reading the memoirs of her guardian or her best friend. So different from other books I've read, that have felt more like compilations of news articles and production notes from the movie sets. This book feels very personal and is a must read for any Marilyn fan!
dmh5026 More than 1 year ago
I recently finished an epic 500-page biography of the lovely Norma Jean entitled "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" by J. Randy Taraborrelli. Let me preface this review by saying that I have never seen a Marilyn Monroe movie, nor read any books on her. I came into this with just an image of my head that was a compilation of her most famous photos and the preconceived thought that she and JFK had some good times. I found this book to be completely engrossing...the tale is almost too good to be true in the sense that it reads like a work of fiction. It is hard to believe that Marilyn lived with so many demons, but her path to fame is nonetheless extraordinary. Taraborrelli is a wonderful biographic writer. It was never dry or boring and filled the pages with such life and detail that a film documentary could probably stand toe-to-toe with its pages. If you are a new to biographical works, this is a great first-read. Not that it's a "training-wheels" type of book in any sense, it is very dense and very long, but her life's story is so mesmerizing that you sometimes forget it was real. I now look forward to watching some of Marilyn's work. Her trials, tribulations and many heartbreaks and mental breakdowns were hard to read at times, but in the end it seemed to only add to her goddess-like quality that makes her seem just a little bit unreal. Highly recommended!
Gail_Jones More than 1 year ago
Taraborrelli has an interesting take on Marilyn's life. He focuses a lot on her relationships with other people but mostly with her mother. Any fan of Monroe knows of the hardships she had to face in her childhood but Taraborelli shows how they took a toll on her as an adult. Very good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is awesome book! In parts it is a little disturbing, but over all its amazing! You should read the sample. If you can not afford the book, the sample is great. I also recommend: Wrapped in a rainbow, hunger games, and the bible. Keep on reading!! #4stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most everything I have read or researched about Marilyn Monroe has been not very flattering. While by no means does Mr. Taraborrelli sugar coat anything, he is much more sympathetic to her mental state. It is not a boring run of the mill Marilyn book. I liked it, but then again...I like her. Keep Reading!
TheMisses More than 1 year ago
I am an adoring fan of Marilyn Monroe especially her quotes, so i decided to read a book about her life. This book goes into great detail from the time she was a little girl to her death. I now have a better understanding as to why marilyn developed the sexual character that she did, in my opinion it was because she didnt have a family to tell her that what she was doing was inappropriate. I learned a great deal about the true Marilyn Monroe and it is a tragedy that she had to die. This book was very interesting, for me there was never a dull moment, the author did a great job!
GeekGirl67 More than 1 year ago
This book is nothing if not thorough... a good read but only for the die hard fan.... more like an encyclopedia.
Serena Kiefer More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much. While it was very depressing, you wonder hiw she made it through everyday. She had love with no boundaries and intelligence that couldve stopped you in your tracks. Although nobody gave her the option to be outspoken. I wish i could have met her and had a chance to ask her questions. Everyone besides ida seemed almost distracted with themselves. A lot of people in this book are looked down upon.
Kristen Harmon More than 1 year ago
Good book for Marilyn fans. It's sad and has many facts that you could not simply google.
cd49 More than 1 year ago
not much new here- not extremely well-written- but interesting enough- and fair. avoids a lot of the smut and gossip usually asscociated with mm-and puts to rest a lot of the myths. on the whole- definitely worth reading to find out more about this woman's life-damaged from the start. one thing i was very troubled by- the lack of footnotes- despite the author's commenting on why he didn't included them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book I can no longer call her Marilyn Monroe. She will always be Norma Jean. From the first chapter to the last you are caught in a womans tragic complicated life. You want her to have the Happy Ending, but you know that won't happen. I respect her more now than I ever did and don't think of her as an iconic image of the past, but as a real troubled soul who never found the peace she so despreatly seached for.
bermudaonion on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
emigre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Revealing biography with lots of haunting details about Monroe's tortured life.
KHusser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rich biography of the 1950's movie star, which details her mental illness, unstable childhood and troubled relationships with men.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. I felt like the author did a great job on writing more about things that could be verified. The author did talk about the different stories about Marilyn, but also made it known how it could be proven or disproven. It was a great read and well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would definitely recommend this book to others. I wouldn't consider myself a marilyn monroe fan prior to reading this book, bought the book when it was on the nyt bestsellers list, but I am a fan now. Looking forward to seeing her movies. 600+ pages, pics & filmography included. The only thing I didn't like is that it is not in chronological order, author broke it down into phases of her life. Difficult to follow an already chaotic life.
crazycatCT More than 1 year ago
Great book. I really liked the parts about Marilyn's life before she was famous.