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A biography and life work of marilyn monroe an american movie actor

Most books about Monroe stress the sensational events that surrounded her-this book is the first to deal honestly and critically with Monroe as an actress, evaluating her moves as crucial forces in the shaping of her identity. Through careful examination of her performances, from her small appearances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve to her memorable roles in Bus Stop, Some Like It Hot, and the The Misfits, the author traces her development from cover girl innocent to an actress devoted to her craft.

Based on extensive interviews with many of Monroe's colleagues, close friends, and mentors, this comprehensive, critically balanced study describes her use of Method acting as well as her instruction with Michael Chekhov and, later, the Strasbergs. Carl Rollyson has written a refreshing analysis and appreciation of Marilyn Monroe's enduring and, until now, underestimated gifts as a creative artist.

Rollyson had done just that in Mariilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress. An intelligent, sympathetic study. An Untold Story "Rollyson takes her and her talent seriously. His analyses of her movie roles and how she filled them are crucial to understanding Monroe, the woman and the actress. Rollyson's achievement is his dedication to examining Monroe from every conceivable angle.

The Short View Fragments: The Long View Fragments: I mean a change in writing about her life. Marilyn Monroe, in short, reminds me of no one so much as Virginia Woolf. To explain I need go back to the dark days of Monroe biography, to what I am going to call the pre-Norman Mailer period. Before Marilyn 1973she was viewed as a rather pathetic figure—a victim of Hollywood, a vulgar popular cultural figure, just a generally messed up human being.

Of course, there were exceptions to this view. Two biographers, Maurice Zolotow and Fred Guiles, took her seriously, but still treated her mainly as a woman who all too often succumbed to the pressures of her career and rarely seemed in control of what was happening to her. Reading Norman Mailer then was like encountering the fog of war.

Carl Rollyson

Feminists were on his case for his baroque depictions of a sex goddess and his penchant for working up burgeoning conspiracies about her connections with the Kennedys and the plots to murder her. After an appalling performance on 60 Minutes—edited to make Mailer look as crass as possible—few reviewers took his book seriously.

To date, Mailer has been the only American writer ever to explore the problems of biography seriously as a genre while actually writing one. I am reminded that both Zolotow and Guiles accused Mailer of plagiarism—not a charge either could sustain, but one that seems plausible because he did, indeed, rely heavily on their work.

Such reliance was, in fact, his strength. He did not deny her self-destructive impulses so much as show how they were like contraindicated drugs that interfered with her artistic genius.

Napoleonic—his term for her overweening ambition. For the first time, really, he displayed that side of her for everyone to see—that is, everyone who was not busy clucking over his opportunism and sexism. At the time, I was engaged in a study of Mailer, not Monroe, but I began to see that he was leading me to my true vocation: Not until 1979, when I was offered a contract to produce a bio-bibliography of Monroe, however, did I seriously consider what I could add to the already voluminous literature about her.

I spent a summer re-reading Guiles, Zolotow, Mailer, and other biographies and realized two things: In my view, a Monroe biographer needed to address two questions: These biographers had no vocabulary to describe her acting and thus were at a loss when it came to discussing the nexus between her life and her art. I doubt that I would have realized the deficiencies of earlier biographies if I had not been a trained actor, one who at a very early age turned to acting for many of the same reasons that Monroe was attracted to the art.

In brief, acting allows you to be someone even before you know who you are or what you want to become. Her mother was mentally ill, and Monroe was never sure about the identity of her father, so turned to the theater as a kind of compensation—as I did after my father died while I was still a child.

When she remained focused, she created an extraordinary range of performances, from the introvert in Bus Stopto the extrovert in The Prince and the Showgirl Watch just those two films, and you will see why I think she is a great actress.

Each performance is a de novo creation of a vocabulary of gesture and movement that is inimitable. In her major roles, Marilyn Monroe did not repeat herself. In this regard, my conclusions were not much different from those of other biographers.

What I failed to realize is that it was not her background or her working conditions that did her in. On the contrary, as Fragments and MM-Personalshow, it was her acute self-consciousness, her Virginia Woolf-like obsession with watching herself and scrutinizing her relations with others. In short, it was not the traumatic childhood, not the movies, not the failed marriages—not her even her disappointed hopes—that led to her demise, but rather her unrelenting focus on herself.

This self-consciousness appeared very early, at least as early as her first marriage, which is to say years before she became a star, or even had an acting career. I can best illustrate my point by analyzing a six-page typewritten, undated personal note, probably written in 1943, less than a year after Marilyn married James Dougherty, her first husband, on June 19, 1942, just over two weeks after she turned sixteen then the age of consent in California.

I had no access to this letter when I wrote my biography. When I first read the personal note in Fragments, I thought the editors had misdated it. Monroe writes part of it in the past tense, employing a ruminative tone that is startling coming from a teenager. Before commenting on what Monroe says, though, I need to ask: Is this a personal note? That is just the title her editors supply. Was Monroe writing for herself? The piece does not read like a scrap of a diary or journal.

It is retrospective, as if the marriage a biography and life work of marilyn monroe an american movie actor over—which in a way it was, even though the couple would not divorce until September 13, 1946. Whatever you call it, this piece of writing is suffused with an intense disenchantment seemingly bearing no relationship to the cheerful, dependent creature Dougherty described in his memoir about his marriage to Monroe.

He was nearly six years older, but she was the mature one—or should I say the perceptive one? Dougherty always professed amazement that his Norma Jeane had metamorphosed into Marilyn Monroe. He did not realize, however, that he never knew Norma Jeane either. Dougherty—a little a biography and life work of marilyn monroe an american movie actor, with a love of classical music—seemed a mature match for her. In retrospect, however, she speculated that she may simply have made him into a sort of dream man, a projection of her own desire to feel secure.

He was one of the few men she did not see as sexually repulsive, one who could fulfill her fleeting notions of romantic adventure.

And she wanted to please her elders chiefly her guardians, Ana Lower and Grace McKee who thought the marriage a good idea. The marriage also served, she thought, as an escape from the problems of adolescence. I had presumed her decision was spontaneous and took her by surprise.

But it is apparent now that his entrance into her biography provided not only an opportunity, but was also a release for her pent-up energy. She mentions reading as one of her solitary pleasures.

Norma Jeane seems more upset about what she is feeling than about the woman in question—or even about her husband. In other words, the entire episode is a projection. Pardon me, but I feel like she is speaking to her biographer. How many people, even those who become icons, are already notating themselves at seventeen?

She is tentative about her self-examination—suggesting that it is not worth much and should be thrown into the wastebasket—but that attitude reminds me of the mature star, who always doubted she had understood her roles and given her best performance. This digression is, of course, nothing of the kind, but rather an extrapolation from her own experience. As is so often the case with the woman who would become Marilyn Monroe, I sense her utter aloneness.

  • I've tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing;
  • To Miller, years later;;;
  • Sidney Skolsky remarked that;;;
  • She felt that due to her star status, she should have the right to script approval;
  • Her mother was mentally ill, and Monroe was never sure about the identity of her father, so turned to the theater as a kind of compensation—as I did after my father died while I was still a child;
  • I had presumed her decision was spontaneous and took her by surprise.

No one is at hand to take up the connections she is trying to make between herself and the way the world works. Later, her fame would in countless ways prevent her from fully engaging with others. In her own case, Monroe suggests, marriage to Dougherty cut her off from those insights that develop in childhood. Or, as she puts it: Ultimately, he realized he did not have the kind of concentrated literary power that would make him a writer, but he used that same power in a series of extraordinary performances over a ten-year period, 1944 to 1954.

Monroe did much the same thing between 1952 and 1962. One of the attractions of the acting profession for personalities like Andrews and Monroe is that their roles can, at least temporarily, express through the words of others a conception of self and world that is otherwise not within their reach. For a time she thought her husband was honest with her, but then she interjects: Norma Jeane was in her world a nonpareil, although I doubt that anyone noticed as much.

Certainly this is true in my case. I can think of many writing projects that I would not have completed if I had known, from the start, how much trouble they would entail.

  1. July 1960 marked the start of filming "The Misfits"...
  2. Such reliance was, in fact, his strength. She selected her mother's family name of Monroe.
  3. For the first time, Marilyn began showing serious side-effects of the many sleeping pills she had been taking for the last few years...
  4. The filming was way behind schedule and costing millions over budget. Joe did not accompany her on this trip...
  5. Such reliance was, in fact, his strength. Whatever you call it, this piece of writing is suffused with an intense disenchantment seemingly bearing no relationship to the cheerful, dependent creature Dougherty described in his memoir about his marriage to Monroe.

So imagine the life of a young woman who did anticipate trouble, who could not help but observe herself, and who chose a profession in which she was on display all the time. Her self-consciousness could be paralyzing and was relieved only by moments of acting when she could embody another being. What a relief it would be to act unconsciously and ultimately, to be unconscious, no longer obliged to carry the burden of self, a burden already shouldered by Norma Jeane when she was still three years away from her first appearance in a motion picture.

To carry that same burden as Marilyn Monroe was all the more deadly. The new cover for the paperback and ebook appearing spring 2014.