Marilyn: Her Life and Legend

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Author Susan Doll
Publisher Publications International Ltd.
Cover Type Hardcover
Dimensions 10.25 x 14.25 inches
Publish Date 1990
ISBN 0-88176-825-1
Signed No
Number of Pages 256


Seems like most of the Marilyn books fall into one or the other of these categories: Standard Biography; Murder Conspiracy; Intellectual look back and someone the Intellectuals overlooked; Big old glossy unashamed coffee table books.

 The book I want to tell you about this week falls in that last category for it is huge, (9” x 14”), glossy and totally unashamed that is one huge, (couldn’t fit it all on my scanner),coffee table book with not much other than great photographs following the Monroe legend from infant to that last farewell summer. But now that I’ve written that line about not much other than photos, I’m going to have to correct myself. Unlike most of the lush photo books on Marilyn, this one offers some pretty interesting text as well. It might not be Guiles or Zolotow but the text here is basically a good introduction to Marilyn’s life and really serves much more of a purpose than to fill in the spaces between the photos.

 That’s not to say there’s anything here that will come as a surprise. It’s pretty much everything you’ve read elsewhere-- but there is a cool little add on chapter about the marketing of Marilyn after her death and the films and books that have cropped up since 1962. But let’s be honest-- the only reason one would buy this book is the pictures. And the pictures are great.

 While many are ones that you’ve seen countless times, leafing through it just now I came across several that I haven’t seen online. In all it’s a  great combination of candid shots from her day to day life and travels and the posed publicity shots as well as some of her work with the outstanding photographers of the era. Laid out in a nice chronological order so that you can follow the progress of her career and “look”, “Marilyn- Her Life & Legend” is one of those perfect Christmas or Birthday gifts you can bug your loved ones about. In fact, pretty much the only thing I can say against the book is its size. Like Bert Stern’s “The Complete Last Sitting” and the De Dienes mega-tome, you are going to have a hard time finding a shelf tall enough to keep it on-- let alone trying to get it to fit right on your scanner so as to share some of the rare photos with the online groups. But hey, there’s worse things in life than trying to find space for yet another big fat coffee table book filled with Marilyn, huh?

 256 pages. 450 photographs, most in color.

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