Marilyn Monroe was born June 1, 1926 – 90 years ago. A half century after her death, she remains an icon. A product of abuse and foster homes, Norma Jeane Baker carefully created and cultivated Marilyn Monroe, the definition of sexiness, beauty and Hollywood intrigue. She was the blonde bombshell who was both sultry and funny. Her life was colorful and controversial. Her husbands included baseball great Joe Dimaggio, and writer/intellectual Arthur Miller. Her lovers included the equally charismatic President John F. Kennedy. Marilyn died August 4,1962 at age 36. Some believe it was suicide. Others believe it was an accident. Many say it was murder. Here are 30 great books about all aspects of the movie icon’s amazing life and mysterious death
#1- My Story
This was written at the height of Monroe’s her fame but not published until more than a decade after her death. The autobiography recounts her childhood as an unwanted child, her early adolescence, her rise in the film industry from bit player to celebrity, and her marriage to Joe DiMaggio. In this intimate account of a very public life, she tells of her first (non-consensual) sexual experience, her romance with the Yankee Clipper, and her prescient vision of herself as “the kind of girl they found dead in the hall bedroom with an empty bottle of sleeping pills in her hand.” The Marilyn in these pages is a revelation: a gifted, intelligent, vulnerable woman who was far more complex than the unwitting sex siren she portrayed on screen.
#2 – Legend: The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe
Fred Lawrence Guiles
This is the biography that most other authors of Marilyn Monroe books use as a reference and guide. It has been praised for its in-depth look into a confusing, tragic life; especially since Marilyn often embellished her past. Guiles treats Marilyn’s decline with objectivity as he covers her tardiness to work or appointments, her drug dependence and occasional fits of anger. He handles her death with grace, leaning toward a suicide verdict, carefully negating other reports.
#3 – Marilyn Monroe: The Biography
This biography pulls from more than 150 interviews and 35,000 pages of previously sealed files, including Monroe’s diaries, letters, and other personal documents. The book reveals new details of every aspect of her life, from her guarded childhood, and her relationships with men and marriages, to her mysterious death. Spoto comments on previous books about Marilyn, and puts to rest questions regarding Monroe’s connection with the Kennedys.
#4 – Icon: The Life, Times, and Films of Marilyn Monroe Volume 1 1926 to 1956
Marilyn Monroe’s remarkable life, brilliant film career, & posthumous legend have been studied in scores of biographies. Psychotherapist & author Gary Vitacco-Robles reframes & redefines the woman behind the iconic image through an analysis of her psyche and an appreciation of her performances. In this meticulously researched book, the author offers facts comprehensively documenting each year of Monroe’s life within the context of her tumultuous times and through her relationships with literary, sports, entertainment, and political figures. He explores her desires: to be loved, become a serious actress, and have a family. He dispels many myths and reveals the ultimate truth about Hollywood’s most charismatic and beloved, star.
#5 – Marilyn Monroe
Leaming’s Marilyn Monroe is a complex, sympathetic portrait of the 1950’s icon, and a woman at the center of a drama with immensely high stakes. Those around her are fascinating and powerful characters in the movie industry, theatre and politics. It’s also a book that looks at one of the most tumultuous, frightening, and exciting periods in American culture. At the heart of this book is a sexual triangle and a riveting story of betrayal that has never been told before. Basing her research on new interviews and on thousands of primary documents, including letters by Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, John Huston, Laurence Olivier, Tennessee Williams, Darryl Zanuck, Marilyn’s psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson, and many others, Leaming has reconstructed the tangles of betrayal in Marilyn’s life.
#6 – The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe
Donald H. Wolfe
Marilyn Monroe’s death has been veiled in decades of deception, conspiracy, and lies. This startling portrait redefines her place in entertainment history and reveals the conspiracy that surrounded her last days. After more than seven years of research, Wolfe argues that Marilyn was murdered, documenting the mode of death, and names those involved and those who participated in the cover-up. The book contains documented revelations, information about the dark secret in Marilyn’s relationship with John and Robert Kennedy, and shocking details about the many bizarre events that took place at Marilyn’s home the day she died.
#7 – Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis
This book is billed as “the most lavish and comprehensive collection of Marilyn Monroe photographs ever assembled.” More than half of the photos are published for the first time. Norma Jeane Baker’s transformation into one of the most emulated and iconic Hollywood stars is an epic American story. She soared from a troubled childhood into the national spotlight, then fell into a world of chaos, treachery and health problems.. Wills offers a mesmerizing photographic journey through Monroe’s meteoric rise and tragic downfall. It’s a stunning pictorial and psychological portrait of one of the 20th century’s most enduring icons.
#8 – Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years
Badman has apparently researched nearly everything written ayears and assimilates it into a concise, well-written version. Marilyn was surrounded by “friends” and colleagues who used her during her life and after her death. These included the Life photographer who photographed her corpse. Others included Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, the Kennedys, mafia members and many more. She also suffered from colitis and female problems that few were aware of. Published for the 50th anniversary of her tragic death, this definitive account dispels the rumors and sets the record straight on Marilyn Monroe’s last two years
#9 Marilyn: Norma Jeane
Gloria Steinem, George Barris
Few books have altered the perception of a celebrity as much as Marilyn: Norma Jeane. Gloria Steinem reveals that behind the familiar sex symbol was a tortured spirit with powerful charisma, intelligence, and complexity. The book studies Norma Jeane, the young girl who grew up with an unstable mother, constant shuffling between foster homes, and abuse. Steinem evocatively recreates that world, connecting it to the fragile adult persona of Marilyn Monroe. Her compelling text draws on a long, private interview Monroe gave to photographer George Barris, part of an intended joint project begun during Monroe’s last summer. The book also includes Barris’s extraordinary portraits of Monroe, taken just weeks before the star’s death.
#10 – To Norma Jeane, With Love, Jimmie
James Dougherty, LC Van Savage
James Dougherty was Norma Jeane Baker’s first husband. She was 16 when they were wed. They remained married four years. “Norma Jeane was always a butterfly,” Dougherty says in the book. “She was beautiful all of her life, within and without. During our courtship and marriage I never stopped loving to be with her, to stare at her, to laugh with and love her. We had a wonderful, joyful marriage. But in the end, it was not enough for Norma Jeane. Like all beautiful butterflies, she had to fly away.”
#11 – The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
J. Randy Taraborrelli
As Marilyn Monroe rose to fame in the 1950s, the publicity machine said 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 life and the author describes the complex family dynamic behind the scenes. Taraborrelli draws complex and sympathetic portraits of the women influential in the actress’ life, including her mother, her foster mother, and her legal guardian. He describes the scope of Marilyn’s own mental illness, the identity of Marilyn’s father and the half-brother she never knew, and provides new information about her relationship with the Kennedys.
#12 – Marilyn
Norman Mailer was a bestselling author during the mid-20th century, best known, perhaps, for his novel The Naked and the Dead. However, when something or someone caught Mailer’s interest, he dove into the subject with energy and passion. Read Marilyn as a great narrative by a great writer. It is full of passion, insight into the woman and the culture that helped make her and destroy her.
#13 – Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters
Fragments is a collection of written artifacts—Marilyn’s notes to herself, letters, even poems—in her own handwriting, never before published, along with rarely seen intimate photos. Jotted in notebooks, typed on paper, or written on hotel letterhead, these texts reveal a woman who loved deeply and strove to perfect her craft. They show a person critically analyzing her own life, but who is also playful, funny, and charming. There is a grace and deceptive lightness that made her performances enduring emerge, as well as the simmering tragedy that made her last appearances so affecting.
#14 – Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modeling Years
Astrid Franse, Michelle Morgan
This is the story of Marilyn Monroe’s modelling career with the famous Blue Book Agency in Hollywood. Agency head Emmeline Snively saw potential in the young woman and kept detailed records and correspondence throughout their professional relationship and beyond. Before Marilyn explores an aspect of Monroe’s life that has never been fully revealed, charting every modelling job she did. The text is illustrated with rare and unpublished photographs of the young model and her mentor.
#15 – Marilyn Monroe Unveiled: A Family History
Jason Edward Kennedy
Written by relatives of Marilyn Monroe, the authors painstakingly unravel the myths that have tainted her legacy. The facts support that Marilyn was surrounded with family. However, Hollywood, Marilyn’s New York “friends,” and her therapists insulated Marilyn to profit from her success. These friends and colleagues squeezed funds out of Marilyn and probably helped contribute to her health problems. The authors argue that the heirs of the opportunists still garner monies through her name today. This book could change the way readers view the life and death of Marilyn Monroe.
#16 – The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed
Jay Margolis, Richard Buskin
Marilyn Monroe died under suspicious circumstances on the night of August 4, 1962. Renowned Marilyn expert Jay Margolis and New York Times best-selling author Richard Buskin lay to rest decades of speculation and misguided assertions by actually naming the screen goddess’s killer. At the same time, they use eyewitness testimony to describe exactly what took place inside her Los Angeles home. Implicating Bobby Kennedy in the commission of Monroe’s murder, this is the first book to name the LAPD officers who accompanied the attorney general to her home, provide details about how the Kennedys used bribes to silence one of the ambulance drivers, and show how the subsequent cover-up was aided by a noted pathologist’s lies. This book blows the lid off the world’s most talked-about celebrity death, and in the process also exposes the third gunman in the pantry who fired the fatal bullet to the back of RFK’s head – and the third gunman’s female accomplice who, until now, has only been known to the LAPD and the FBI as “the girl in the polka-dot dress.”
#17 – Marilyn: In the Flash
A stunning collection of hundreds of rare and unseen photographs, behind-the-scenes notes, and interviews chronicling the media’s lifelong love affair with Marilyn, created by the acclaimed curator and author of Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis.
Marilyn Monroe was married three times, but her longest lasting relationship was with the press—the photographers, reporters, and press agents who followed her for nearly two decades and made her into the greatest icon in Hollywood history. One of the most publicized actresses of her time, Marilyn actively sought out the press, carefully crafting her public image and using events from her private life to further her career. Drawing on troves from photographers, archives, and collectors, Wills brings together an array of press photos from throughout Marilyn’s career. With a foreword by Robert J. Wagner and interviews from key press agents and others, this portfolio of images offers a fresh portrait of Marilyn and illuminates the special alliance she shared with the press.
#18 – Marilyn in Fashion: The Enduring Influence of Marilyn Monroe
Christopher Nickens, George Zeno
She had an enduring impact as a movie star and sex symbol – and fashion. From the pink satin “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” gown, to the pleated white dress from “The Seven Year Itch” to the revealing nude sheath worn to sing Happy Birthday to JFK, Marilyn created endless looks that have stayed with us. . Before they were household names, she wore Ferragamo pumps, carried Gucci bags and wore the designs of Oleg Cassini, Norman Norell, Emilio Pucci and Jean Louis. In an era repressed sexuality, Marilyn was a visionary who could spot up-and-coming designers. This book traces the evolution of her style, from wholesome sweetness early in her career, to sex kitten looks in the ‘50s, to elegant sophistication. She often worked closely with designers to create looks befitting the Marilyn Monroe image. Illustrated with rare and never-before-published photos, Marilyn in Fashion traces the style evolution of the ultimate Hollywood icon.
#19 – Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words
Marilyn Monroe, George Barris
This is Marilyn Monroe’s story in her own words. On June 1, 1962, her 36th birthday, famed photographer and reporter George Barris came to see Marilyn on the set of what would be her final, unfinished film. They had met eight years earlier, became friends, and planned to do a picture book and autobiography. For the next six weeks Barris photographed and interviewed the actress. Their final talk was on August 3, less than 24 hours before Marilyn was found dead in her apartment. Barris firmly believes that Marilyn was murdered and could not bring himself to publish her thoughts or the haunting photos of that summer until 2012. This is a candid memoir enhanced by 150 black-and-white and color photos, many never before published. A highlight is “The Last Photo Shoot” where Marilyn appears luminous without makeup on the beach at Santa Monica and in a North Hollywood house.
#20 – Marilyn: Intimate Exposures
Susan Bernard, Jane Russell (Foreword), Lindsay Lohan (Foreword)
This book was published in 2012 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. The lavishly illustrated volume celebrates her enduring beauty through photographs by legendary Hollywood photographer Bruno Bernard. Bernard’s iconic photograph of Marilyn standing over the subway grate in a billowing white dress is synonymous with Hollywood glamour and sex appeal, and many of the images here have never before been published. They cover key moments in Marilyn’s life, including her first professional sitting in 1946, all brought to life with excerpts from Bruno’s journal. Both Jane Russell (Marilyn’s co-star in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Lindsay Lohan contribute forewords.
#21 – Marilyn Monroe: Private and Confidential
This biography by the president of Marilyn Monroe’s UK fan club contains a huge collection of primary source material on Monroe, covering all stages of her life. It includes 70 previously unpublished photographs. Morgan also interviewed every person accessible who knew or was related to Marilyn in any way, from the main players in her life to colleagues and casual acquaintances. More than 50 interviewees are featured, many who’ve never gone on the record before, including contacts from her orphaned childhood and early years. Documentary sources range from the private testimony of her gynecologist to the previously undisclosed Laurence Olivier papers concerning Marilyn’s time in England.
#22 – Marilyn Monroe: A Case for Murder
Marilyn Monroe’s death is one of the great mysteries of the 20th century. Although no pills were found in her stomach during the autopsy, it was still documented in the Los Angeles coroner’s report that she had swallowed 64 sleeping pills before her demise. Margolis presents the most thorough investigation of Marilyn Monroe’s death to date and shares how he reached the definitive conclusion that she was murdered.
Margolis meticulously dissects the events leading up to her death, revealing a major conspiracy and countless lies. In an exclusive interview with actress Jane Russell three months before her death, he reveals Russell’s belief that Monroe was murdered and points the finger at the man she held responsible. While examining the actions of Peter Lawford, Bobby Kennedy, and Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, Margolis establishes a timeline of her last day alive that leads to shocking revelations.
#23 – Marilyn Monroe: From Beginning to End
Michael Ventura (Author), Earl Leaf (Photographer)
A study of the life of Marilyn Monroe, as revealed through an interpretation of 83 recently-discovered photographs. The images tell their own story, showing Marilyn in formal or relaxed poses with actors such as Tony Curtis, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and are accompanied by commentary.
#24 – An Evening with Marilyn
Douglas Kirkland (Photographer)
Worshipped for her sexuality, adored for her vulnerability and innocence, Marilyn is a movie icon whose persona continues to enthrall and delight her fans. Marilyn’s ethereal beauty and irrepressible charisma are captured here in a sequence of sensual portraits taken over the course of one extraordinary evening in 1961 when she was 35, just a year before her tragic death. On assignment for Look magazine to photograph the movie star for its 25th anniversary cover, Douglas Kirkland shot Marilyn in the intimate confines of an unmade bed. The result is a series of some of the most spontaneous and flirtatious photographs ever taken of Marilyn. Moody, grainy, and evocative, these images are accompanied by Kirkland’s own recounting of the story behind the photo shoot. Together his words and pictures tell the seductive tale of a brief and unforgettable encounter between a handsome freshman photographer and the sexiest woman in Hollywood history.
#25 – Marilyn Monroe: A Biography
Although Marilyn Monroe was a top-billed actress for only a decade, her films grossed $200 million by the time of her death in 1962. While working in a factory in 1944, she met a photographer and began a successful pin-up modeling career.
By 1953, Marilyn was one of the most bankable Hollywood stars, with leading roles in several films including How to Marry a Millionaire, which established her star image as a “dumb blonde”. Although she played a significant role in the creation and management of her public image, she was disappointed at being typecast and underpaid by the studio. Fighting the Hollywood establishment, Monroe founded a film production company in late 1954, Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP). In 1955, Fox gave her a new contract with more control and a larger salary. After giving a critically acclaimed performance in Bus Stop (1956) and acting in the first independent production of MMP, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for Some Like It Hot (1959). This book covers her troubled private life, her struggle with addiction, depression, and anxiety, as well as her marriages to baseball player Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller.
#26 – UFOs and the Murder of Marilyn Monroe
Donald R. Burleson
This is one of the most controversial books written about Marilyn Monroe. Burleson shares his extensive research, which includes CIA and FBI documents to show that Marilyn was murdered by government officials to silence her about highly classified things she knew about UFO crash retrievals. Burleson provides new evidence to support his argument that Marilyn kept company with the wrong people in government, learned secret things from them that she should not have, and paid for this knowledge with her life. The author calls what happened to her a national disgrace, and sets the record right about how and why she died.
#27 – The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe
Donald H. Wolfe
This book is the fully documented story of Marilyn Monroe’s death, described as “a heart-stopping account of the events that led to the circumstances of 4th August 1962.” He argues that the Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney’s office have perpetuated a cover up that was generated right after her death. Wolfe shows why so many joined in the conspiracy of silence. He explores Marilyn’s universe where the worlds of Hollywood, the Mafia and the secret sub-cellars of Washington D.C., collide.
#28 – Memoirs of a Deputy Coroner: The Case of Marilyn Monroe
Lionel Grandison Jr., Samir Muqaddin
This is a powerful account of the official Coroner’s investigation into Marilyn’s death. Deputy Coroner Lionel Grandison investigated Marilyn’s case in 1962, Grandison provides an unprecedented inside look at the massive cover-up he witnessed and how the official Coroner’s investigation was sabotaged to hide the truth about the star’s death. Grandison, 22 years old at the time, was thrust into this intricate conspiracy plot and forced to sign Marilyn’s death certificate. Grandison offers new information about what transpired at the Coroner’s office and how the huge cover-up unfolded. It also includes new information about her autopsy, original toxicology reports and Grandison’s discovery of Marilyn’s secret diary, which the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office had in its possession. The diary depicted the high stakes secret life she lived and her knowledge of sensitive government issues. Grandison reveals contents of Marilyn’s diary which includes her involvement with the Kennedys, FBI, CIA and Mafia members. The book describes a shocking chain-of-events leading up to Marilyn’s death and how the cover-up began from the moment she died.
#29 – Crypt 33: The Saga of Marilyn Monroe
Adela Gregory, Milo Speriglio
When Marilyn Monroe was found naked and dead on the morning of August 5, 1962, she became the subject of a mystery that has fascinated and perplexed the world for generations. Was her death an accident? Suicide? Or murder? In this riveting account, private investigators Gregory and Speriglio uncover startling evidence that may solve the case once and for all. They reveal:
-the truth about Marilyn’s affairs with JFK and Robert Kennedy and the
top-level government secrets that endangered Marilyn’s life;
– how Marilyn pulled strings as a political power player;
– the identity of the friend who opened the door to Marilyn’s killers;
– evidence of the deadly drugs and how they were administered to Marilyn;
– what happened to the audio tape recording of Marilyn’s murder.
Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., author of From Crime Scene to Courtroom calls this book “The best autopsy of Marilyn Monroe.”
#30 – Coroner’s Cold Case #81128 : Marilyn Monroe
When Marilyn died there was much concern as to whether her death was an accident, a suicide, or a murder. There is evidence supporting each of the three possibilities but it’s all too confusing to arrive at a definite conclusion. That’s because a lot of misinformation was being distributed to cover up the truth. Wright analyzes the available information, separates the lies from the truthful testimony, and claims to clear up the 50-year-old mystery. The book begins with Marilyn’s biography, moves on to the night she died, and then studies the testimony of her friends, lovers and business contacts. It covers information and opinions of the police, powerful men in the entertainment world and the Federal Government. What emerges, the author says, is the true story of what happened to the star on that August night in 1962. It is a shocking, violent story.
More Books About Marilyn Monroe
The Secret Happiness of Marilyn Monroe
James E. Dougherty
Marilyn Monroe: The Life and Death Of Marilyn Monroe
Marlow J Martin
Marilyn Monroe: Legend and Tragedy
The Marilyn Monroe Treasures
Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives
My Sister Marilyn: A Memoir of Marilyn Monroe
Berniece Miracle, Mona Miracle
Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe &Joe DiMaggio – Love In Japan, Korea & Beyond
Jennifer Jean Miller
Holding a Good Thought for Marilyn: 1926-1954 The Hollywood Years