Monroe: Her Life in Pictures Anniversary Edition

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Author James Spada
Publisher Doubleday
Cover Type Softcover
Dimensions 8.25 x 11 inches
Publish Date 1982
ISBN 0-385-17940-5
Signed Yes - personalized
Number of Pages 194


Letís be honest with each other. Which would you prefer-- an in-depth psychological dissertation on Marilynís life or a big picture book with minimal text and lots of glossy photos? I know it depends on the mood but I think Iíd be safe in saying that most of us would like to spend a lazy summer afternoon curled up with a book of terrific MM photos than making our way slowly through yet another authorís ìfinally the TRUTH!î take on Marilynís life and death.

 So this week I want to point out a wonderful book that fitís the concept of a light summer read: James Spadeís ìMonroe: Her Life in Picturesî. Grab a Coke or iced tea, set the volume on the answering machine to low and head out to the patio. Guilty pleasures donít count in the summer.

 Iíll have to be honest here and admit that I donít think much of Spadeís skills as a biographer. His book on Peter Lawford was basically a rehash of the latest gossip including ìin-depthî interviews with the likes of Robert Slatzer and Jeanne Carmen. But in this book thereís not much to worry about in that area. Spada keeps his text minimal, little more than lengthy photo captions, and the result is terrific.

 The photos, some familiar, some rarely seen, are structured so as to follow Marilyn from that 1920s toddler on the beach with her mother all the way up to Allan Grantís photos that accompanied what would be her last interview. And when the title states ìher lifeî he means just that. There are none of the coroner office photos, none of the mourning Joe, none of the thousands of fans watching from the sidelines as the legend was laid to rest. The book simply ends with that great wide open smile above an excerpt from Strasbergís eulogy. And in betweenÖ pictures!

 Private photos, candids, publicity photos, behind the scene photos, newspaper photos-- Marilyn getting out of a car, Marilyn waving to the crowds, Marilyn making a movie, Marilyn singing, Marilyn on TV, Marilyn on Radio. It doesnít matter really if you have seen the pictures before or not. It is the ability to sit down and calmly watch her grow up, become a starlet, become a star, become a living legend that makes it all worth while. And the text is fine. Identifying what is happening in the picture, often with dates, Spada takes a step back from his subject and allows the photos to tell the story. And what a story it was.

 The book is not in print right now but that doesnít mean you wonít be able to find it immediately. Nearly every used book store has a copy. And if you log on to any book search you should have no problem at all. Even easier, just go to Amazon. As of the moment they have four used copies from $8.80. Itís worth the price of shipping.

 Spada seems to have latched onto his particular niche with Monroe: Her Life In Pictures. Since the publication in 1982 he has gone on to do ìLife in Picturesî volumes on Ronald Regan, John and Caroline Kennedy, The Bush Family, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis  and Liz Taylor. The Jackie O book might come close but I donít think any of his other subjects could possibly have the lasting fascination as Marilyn.

 Itís summer-- no one expects you be reading ìWar and Peaceî or Melville. So youíve nearly two months left to find a copy of ìMonroe: Her Life in Picturesî and spend the day lolling over still more pictures of her completely guilt free.