Musings on an American icon by the stars of yesterday and today.
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
People will talk—and that can be both a good and a bad thing. Gossip is often mean, and its shelf life is usually longer than we’d like. On the other hand, a bit of scandalous chatter—as in the new book Marilyn Forever by Boze Hadleigh—can be great. After all, as long as people are talking about you, they’ll remember you.
Through the years, plenty of people have had plenty to say about Marilyn Monroe, both during her career and after her death. Anne Baxter said she “got fed up” with studio bosses fussing over Monroe and ignoring “those of us who could actually act.” Elizabeth Taylor had nothing good to say about Monroe, whose rumored affair with another woman reportedly scandalized Taylor.
And yet, some saw deep into Monroe’s soul, and they loved her for it. Shirley MacLaine remembers Monroe as being an intelligent woman, despite the persona that Monroe cultivated; Jerry Orbach remembers Monroe’s “heart,” and shares the story of what she did for soldiers in Korea. Likewise, Shari Lewis tells of Monroe’s brave stand, in pre-civil-rights America, on behalf of Ella Fitzgerald.
Michael Jackson said that just thinking about Monroe “makes you want to cry.”
Just before Monroe died, she was said to have been excited about being a new homeowner. She was in perhaps the best shape she’d been in for years and was ready for a resurgence of her career, so her death made no sense. Did she make a mistake with champagne and drugs, or was it something more sinister? No one knows, but at least one Hollywood star muses about the roles Monroe might have had in her later years, had she lived. “Fortunately, there’s certainly a lot left to dream about her,” says Hugh Hefner.
Everyone knows that names hurt just as much as sticks and stones, despite that old playground chant. So how affected was Marilyn Monroe by the things others said about her? In Marilyn Forever, you’ll see.
Through his collection of quotes and thoughts on Monroe, author Hadleigh (who is openly gay) offers a portrait of the star through the eyes of people who knew her and worked with her. As readers might expect, there’s quite a bit of nastiness here; the claws come out and the snarls fairly drip from many quotes. Monroe, it has been said, was naturally quite hurt by such comments.
But Hadleigh doesn’t let those things drive this book. There’s love here, and it’s striking: stories of a makeup artist who, years later, couldn’t bear to discuss his friendship with Monroe. “He-man” types are reduced to tears, and quite a few stars speak with sympathy about a woman they greatly admired.
That gives this book a good balance and offers further insights about an actress who’s been gone for (can you believe it?) more than five decades. Time flies when you’re a fan, so it’s good that Marilyn Forever is a book you won’t stop talking about.
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old, and she lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.