Women Writers Reading Challenge #40: Marilyn by Gloria Steinem


This lovely coffee table book was created about 25 years after Marilyn Monroe’s death, which means that it has the benefit of many other biographies coming before it (more perspective). Originally conceived by Marilyn with photographer George Barris, the project was supposed to feature his pictures and her text to “set the record straight.”

Her death, just weeks after these photos were taken, meant that the project was buried. Gloria Steinem, the well known feminist activist, only met Marilyn once, but her biographic essays have an extraordinary amount of sensitivity, and she paints a portrait of the icon as vulnerable and utterly human.

One particularly interesting part of the text comes from Steinem’s discussion of Marilyn Monroe as a unique phenomenon–what other movie star has lasted so long in our psyches? She is still more well known than many of our current stars, and you only have to look at youtube makeup tutorials to see how she has endured. Steinem explores reasons for this as well as providing context for Marilyn’s troubled life.

If you’re interested in Marilyn Monroe or about old Hollywood in general, I would definitely recommend this book. I had no idea how powerful it would be to see the last picture taken of her before her death, but I found it incredibly moving.

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