Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress, Revised and Updated
In American popular culture, Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) has evolved in stature from movie superstar to American icon. Monroe's own understanding of her place in the American imagination and her effort to perfect her talent as an actress are explored with great sensitivity in Carl Rollyson's engaging narrative. He shows how movies became crucial events in the shaping of Monroe's identity. He regards her enduring gifts as a creative artist, discussing how her smaller roles in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve established the context for her career, while in-depth chapters on her more important roles in Bus Stop, Some Like It Hot, and The Misfits provide the centerpiece of his examination of her life and career.
Through extensive interviews with many of Monroe's colleagues, close friends, and other biographers, and a careful rethinking of the literature written about her, Rollyson is able to describe her use of Method acting and her studies with Michael Chekhov and Lee Strasberg, head of the Actors' Studio in New York. The author also analyzes several of Monroe's own drawings, diary notes, and letters that have recently become available. With over thirty black and white photographs (some published for the first time), a new foreword, and a new afterword, this volume brings Rollyson's 1986 book up to date.
From this comprehensive, yet critically measured wealth of material, Rollyson offers a distinctive and insightful portrait of Marilyn Monroe, highlighted by new perspectives that depict the central importance of acting to the authentic aspects of her being.
press attention. Others, like Barbara Stanwyck, took a more sympathetic view. A thorough professional, Stanwyck understood the young actress’s desire to get her part right even as her publicity tended to overwhelm any consideration of her talent. Monroe herself tried to come to the set with an ally, Natasha Lytess. Lang tolerated Lytess until he discovered that she was interfering with his own direction. Arriving late and requiring innumerable retakes of her scenes was becoming a pattern with
sings to the record she has asked a young man to play for her, and as she embellishes the song the camera tightens on her ecstatic countenance. In close-up, in reverie, her face clearly is meant to arrest attention and to fashion Monroe as a fantasy. The film’s hackneyed plot matters very little, except in so far as it furthers the implications of “Kiss.” Rose Loomis’s depressed husband, tortured by his awareness that he cannot satisfy his sensual wife, and that she must be looking for other men
set aside the defenses and the wisdom she had acquired. She strove, in Guiles’s words, for a “purified state,” which some feared might leave her vulnerable. Paula Strasberg interpreted Monroe’s crystalline sensibility much more positively: “She’s beginning to have new experiences, good ones. It’s part of growing up, and perhaps the first time she’s allowed things to happen to her. She’s like a clear vessel—whatever you pour into her will show up.” In spite of Strasberg’s confidence, in retrospect
remain solitary. They set the world afire with their exuberance and yet end up with something less than whole lives. They are in constant search of some final fulfillment. At the time of The Prince and the Showgirl’s release, reviewers did not see any similarity between Chaplin and Monroe, and did not see the film as a development in Monroe’s career. Although it received some good reviews, most of them were mixed or negative, and it has never been a popular or critical success. Bosley Crowther
and found her greatest pleasure in reading. She questioned her own motives. Was she in love, or just thrilled that her husband wanted her? Like so much of what she would write throughout her life, the note she wrote about her marriage is full of self-doubt. Already, the makings of a deeply self-conscious identity are apparent. This awareness of her own weaknesses stimulated her desire to improve, even as her acknowledgment of her failings debilitated her. She had a striking grasp of the self’s