BOOK REVIEW BY DAVID MARSHALL
The funny thing is, I had planned on
doing this week’s book review on Donald Wolfe’s “The Last Days of Marilyn
Monroe” and then when the Question of the Week was posed, I knew there just
was no other book I could focus on this week. The question asked which were our
favorite books as well as which we really disliked, (well, hated but hate’s
such an ugly word, isn’t it?). Unfortunately, not that I think it will
disappoint Mr. Wolfe, his book, for me, falls into the later category. And now
I’ll tell you why.
When Robert Slatzer published his
book, “The Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe” it was basically a cheap
paperback from a small unknown publisher. There was something kind of
“cheap” about the book, something that made you think maybe this guy
wasn’t very well accredited. Still it was a fascinating read. Full of crap but
interesting. But heartfelt if nothing else.
Now take a look at Donald
Wolfe’s book. Published by William Morrow. Hardback. Thick and seemingly
brimming with information. It has the look and the feel of a scholarly tome
filled with well researched facts. The only thing is once you read it you come
to the realization that not only is it the same old crap but not even half as
interesting as Slatzer’s work. I’m sure this is an opinion not shared by all
but that’s the jest of what it is that bothers me so about Donald Wolfe’s
book-- due to the well known publisher and the hefty “feel” of the book, one
can easily be led to believe, (as we have oh so many times before), that we are
finally going to be treated to the TRUTH! New FACTS Revealed! Even the inside
jacket blurb makes it feel like the final word on Marilyn’s passing is at last
here and for only $25.00 US, $34.00 Canada.
“Shocking and page turning, The
Last Days of Marilyn Monroe is the culmination of over seven years of research,
including interviews with more than eighty-five people. It will change the way
we view the life of this great star!”
I have nothing personal against
Mr. Wolfe. The inside jacket photo shows that he’s a dapper older gentleman
with quite a distinguished air about him. It tells us that he met Marilyn in
1958 while she was working on “Some Like It Hot“. He’s been a film editor,
made a short subject film in France, worked on the post-production of “All the
President’s Men” and worked as a screenwriter for Spielberg. I should have
such a great life, right?
But the thing they leave out is
that the man is not only incredibly gullible, he doesn’t question anything
that is told him. I prefer to think he is gullible. I don’t want to think that
“The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe” is the work of a greedy man cashing in on
the gullibility of others.
Here’s a few examples of what I
mean when I say as an author Wolfe never questions what is told to him.
In one section of the book he
repeats and elaborates on what has come to be known as The Big Needle theory.
This is the story that first appeared in the super market tabloid the Globe, and
states that an ambulance was called to the house, the ambulance attendants
nearly had Marilyn resuscitated when Greenson showed up, jammed a big needle
into her chest, cracked a rib and essentially killed her. But Wolfe never
questions why there were no needle marks found on her body during the autopsy,
(as witnessed by John Miner who does feel the case was one of foul play), there
were no cracked, broken or bruised bones-- in fact no evidence at all that would
back up what Wolfe is telling us.
In another section of the book he
reports the story of Jose Bolanos speaking to Marilyn on the phone the night of
her death close to ten o’clock as he calls from a bar in Santa Monica.
Suddenly there is a commotion at Marilyn’s door and she goes to find out
what’s going on-- and never comes back. And this right after she has told him
that she has “news that will shock the world”. So here’s Bolanos, a five
minute drive away, hearing Marilyn tell him that she has news that will shock
the world just before something happens at her front door and she never comes
back to the phone-- Does Wolfe ask Bolanos why he didn’t maybe get in his car
and drive over to find out what the hell was going on? Or does he ask how
Bolanos could be talking to Marilyn at ten o’clock when Peter Lawford found
her drifting off to unconsciousness when he spoke to her at eight o’clock, so
panicked that it resulted in finding Milton Rudin through his answering service
at 8:25, something that is actually documented?
Then there’s Wolfe’s
presentation of the FBI document that details Marilyn learning about space
aliens being held by the government, something she found out through a romantic
liaison with the President of the United States and the Attorney General. Wolfe
uses the document to back up his contention that RFK was involved in Marilyn’s
murder yet he never asks why the memo, dated August 4, 1962, is written in the
past tense rather than the present tense as all FBI memos are and never
questions anything about those pesky space aliens.
And then there is the tale of
Norman Jefferies, Marilyn’s “handyman” and Mrs. Murray’s son-in-law. It
is Jefferies who tells Wolfe of RFK and two other men coming to the house that
night, Jefferies who tells us of a huge knock down fight between Marilyn and RFK,
Jefferies who tells us he and Mrs. Murray were told to leave and when they snuck
back they found Marilyn near death. Jefferies tells Wolfe that he was at the
house from before eight o‘clock that morning all the way through to the
notification of the police early the following morning but Wolfe never asks why
is it that no one, not Mrs. Murray, not Pat Newcomb, not Dr. Greenson or Dr.
Engelberg have ever mentioned Jefferies being at the house that day. Wolfe never
wonders why is it that the name Norman Jefferies does not appear on any police
report as having been present at the house, is never questioned by the police
while Mrs. Murray, Engelberg, Greenson, Rudin, Ebbins and even Joe DiMaggio are.
Why Jefferies is such a minor figure in the last days of Marilyn Monroe until it
came to writing a book with that title.
Those are just a few of the
examples of why it is I don’t care much for Mr. Wolfe’s scholastic skills.
And the book, “The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe”, to me, is even worse than
Mr. Slatzer’s work. Due to the way it presents itself, a terrific package
purporting the truth at last, I’d put it down as worse than the one that had
the séance and the “in-person”, (if you can call Marilyn’s visitation
from beyond the grave as such), with Marilyn pointing fingers and naming names.
I‘m not saying this about all of
the conspiracy books. Many of them, “The Last Take“ and even Slatzer‘s
book, have a great deal going for them and bring up a lot of questions-- and
attempt to answer those questions. “The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe” is
rehashed rumor, flat out invention, non-substantiated innuendo dressed up with a
terrific cover and presented as fact. I say Sheep’s clothing. That emperor is