Donald Spoto,
Marilyn Monroe: The Biography
(Cooper Square, 2001)

It is hard to imagine the kind of painstaking research that went into creating this comprehensive work of exquisite detail. Donald Spoto not only captures the unique essence of Marilyn Monroe's engaging personality, he includes the minutiae of her life experiences to such a degree that even someone who did not grow up surrounded by her iridescent image would feel a part of this era. Especially interesting are the intricate details of her early life, which would later so greatly affect her vulnerable psyche.

Unfortunately, what put me off were the conclusions he drew regarding the controversial circumstances of her death. He offers some bizarre theories, apparently of his own supposition, based on less-than-concrete evidence and woven to fit unanswered questions. You may find his theories plausible; you may find them ridiculous. Although he does argue a somewhat convincing case, I have never seen or heard of any other documentation that would support these claims. I believe the only real conclusion to be drawn is that we will never fully answer all the questions surrounding the mystery of her death.

This is the story of a very special lady, a lost and deeply lonely little girl who would reach her whole life for an intangible dream of fulfillment that would slip again and again through her fingers. This comprensive work does well in capturing the spirit of that struggle, and those who exploited it. Judge for yourself the validity of Spoto's allegations. Beyond that, you will find this a thorough and engrossing portrayal of our most luminous screen goddess.

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

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