Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words

This is a must have book! You can really hear Marilyn actually speaking these words. Since Mr. Barris is someone who has been kind to Marilyn's memory and his relationship with her has been documented...this book can be trusted. Besides the wonderful text we are given the treat of seeing the Barris photos that were taken in July of 1962 shortly before her death. The photos are presented in both black and white and colour.

Author George Barris
Publisher A Birch Lane Press Book
Cover Type Hardcover
Dimensions 9.5 x 9.5 inches
Publish Date 1995
ISBN 1-55972-306-8
Signed by George Barris - personalized inscription
Number of Pages 164


Whatís a Monroe fan like best? Big, glossy coffee table photo books or reading what Marilyn had to say about herself? Howís about both?

 In 1974 Milton Greene took a copyright out on what was purported to be Marilyn Monroeís autobiography. When it was first published that year, My Story by Marilyn Monroe was snatched up by a country reawakened to the magic of Monroe thanks in large part to the publication of Norman Mailerís Marilyn. Covering the years of her childhood through her Korean tour during her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio, My Story did not catch on as those responsible for its publication had at first assumed.  

The reasons for My Story failure on the best seller lists had a great deal to do with its ìvoice.î Somehow this just didnít ìsoundî like Marilyn. Besides, by 1974 people had little interest in the calendar scandal or the marriage with the Yankee Clipper. What people really wanted to read about was the just then surfacing, (fanned by Mailer), possibility of a romance between a beloved President and a beloved Star. By the end of the 1970s My Story could be found in the remainder bins of book stores. Was it written by Marilyn? Was it written by Ben Hecht? The later is most likely the case. Whatever its origins, My Story just didnít catch on.

 Years go by. The resurgence in Monroeís popularity may have ebbed and flowed but it never once came to a stop. Then in 1986 Gloria Steinem and George Barris got together to pool their talents on a new MM book, Marilyn-Norma Jeane. Itís a toss up as to which made the book such a hit -- Steinemís unique approach to an old story or Barrisí summer of ë62 photos of the late movie star. The two complimented one another, Steinemís feminist approach and Barrisís beach and Hollywood Hills photos. Yet for as wonderful as that book was, it held out a tantalizing possibility-- per Barris, he and Marilyn had been seriously contemplating the idea of doing her biography together.

 But did they? The cover of Barrisís In Her Own Words states that the two met for six weeks for the Tim Leimert/Santa Monica Beach sessions while Whiteyís invoice to the estate shows that they had only scheduled three days for the shoot and Marilyn made it to only two. Still, regardless if the result is a hodgepodge of Monroe quotes elaborated upon by Barris or the stillborn results of a true collaboration, the book is a treasure.

 Barris makes no claims that the project had been completed, or had got much further than its initial stages. Yet the 160 pages are filled with ìquotesî attributed to Marilyn, accompanied by a longer biographical text supplied by Barris himself. The point is the ìvoiceî is right. This ìsoundsî like Marilyn. Reading through the book you can picture her as the photo session drags on, sipping champagne, bitching about Fox, lamenting a lost childhood, dreaming about the future. This is a very much alive Monroe at a crossroads in her life, taking account of the past, living fully in the present while planning out a tentative future. And when she begins to explain how it ìfeelsî to be Marilyn Monroe, she sums it all up: ìIím not the girl next door. Iím not a goody-goody. But I think Iím human. As far as Iím concerned, the happiest time of my life is now. Thereís a future and I canít wait to get to it. It should be interesting.î

 If that in itself does not convince you to find a copy, think about having all those terrific summer of ë62 Barris photos gathered together in one volume, glossy pages of black and white and full color shots of Marilyn goofing on what a long and crazy ride her life has been up to that point. By the time the photos settle down to that last session on Santa Monica beach, by the time she finally pulls on that heavy cable knit sweater and settles down in the sand with a big terry cloth towel wrapped around her legs, you can see that this is a woman who is a far cry from the dumb blonde persona she had battled against. This was a woman on the verge of breaking through to a new and unknown era-- just as the country was about to break out of itís 1950s shell and go off in its own blaze of glory and regrets. Marilyn missed out on what we now remember as The Sixties but for one afternoon on the Santa Monica Beach she shared her ideas of what was to come with a photographer named George Barris. That he finally got around to sharing those thoughts with the rest of us is something we should each be grateful for.

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