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.
Robert Petkoff's diligence as a narrator matches Taraborrelli's accomplishments in generating a fresh analysis of the iconic Marilyn Monroe. With Petkoff's Midas touch, the cast of characters comes to life with crisp clarity and attention to nuance. While there are too many good vocal characterizations to allow for a complete listing, some of the standouts include the mercurial husbands Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio as well as such Rat Pack figures as Peter Lawford and Frank Sinatra. Petkoff's delivery of DiMaggio and Sinatra's ill-fated attempt to spy on Monroe and her romantic companions creates palpable dramatic tension. And as Monroe herself, Petkoff creates a sublime breathy persona that shifts effectively from the girl-next-door Norma Jean to the glamorous Marilyn. Bonus features include a downloadable photo slide show. A Grand Central hardcover. (Aug.)