Cover image for Marilyn : the passion and the paradox
Marilyn : the passion and the paradox
Banner, Lois W.
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Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury, 2012.
Physical Description:
515 p. : col. ill. ; 25 cm.
"Last year J. Randy Taraborrelli wrote a bestselling book entitled The Secret Life of Marilyn. His is the most recent of dozens written since Marilyn's death in August of 1962 and yet the appetite for information about Marilyn is insatiable. No matter whether sensational or flawed, as most of these biographies have been, the fans always come out, in best-selling numbers. This time, with Lois Banner's An Uncommon Woman, Marilyn's fans won't be disappointed. This is no re-tread of recycled material. As one of the founders of the field of women's history, Lois Banner will reveal Marilyn Monroe in the way that only a top-notch historian and biographer could. Banner appreciates the complexities of Monroe's personal life in the context of her acheivements as an actor, singer, dancer, comedian, model, and courtesan. And the new information she unearths is revelatory. Banner's credentials opened doors and she has access to material no one else has seen, from the so called "Rosetta stones" of Monroe research (two large file cabinets filled with a trove of personal papers), to an interview with a member of the Kennedy secret service detail who shared what he witnessed for the first time, to facts and anecdotes about her childhood and her death and every stage of her life in between that were either missed or ignored or misinterpreted. Like her art, Marilyn's self was rooted in paradox: she was a powerful star and a child-like waif, a joyful, irreverent party girl with a deeply spiritual side; a superb friend and a narcisist; a dumb blonde and an intellectual. No biographer before has attempted to analyze--much less realized--most of these aspects of her personality. Lois Banner has"-- Provided by publisher.
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Call Number
Material Type
Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 B MONROE Adult NonFiction Book

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Like her art, Marilyn Monroe was rooted in paradox: She was a powerful star and a childlike waif; a joyful, irreverent party girl with a deeply spiritual side; a superb friend and a narcissist; a dumb blonde and an intellectual. No previous biographer has recognized -- much less attempted to analyze -- most of these aspects of her personality. Lois Banner has.
Since Marilyn's death in August of 1962, the appetite for information about her has been insatiable. Biographies of Marilyn abound, and whether these books are sensational or flawed, Marilyn's fans have always come out in bestselling numbers. This time, with Lois Banner's Revelations , the fans won't be disappointed. This is no retread of recycled material. As one of the founders of the field of women's history, Banner will reveal Marilyn Monroe in the way that only a top-notch historian and biographer could.
In researching Revelations , Banner's credentials opened doors. She gained access to Marilyn intimates who hadn't spoken to other biographers, and to private material unseen, ignored, or misinterpreted by her predecessors. With new details about Marilyn's childhood foster homes, her sexual abuse, her multiple marriages, her affairs, and her untimely death at the age of thirty-six, Revelations is, at last, the nuanced biography Marilyn fans have been waiting for.

Author Notes

Lois Banner is a founder of the field of women's history and cofounder of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, the major academic event in the field. She was the first woman president of the American Studies Association, and in 2006 she won the ASA's Bode-Pearson Prize for Outstanding Contributions to American Studies. She is the author of ten books, including her acclaimed American Beauty and most recently MM -- Personal , which reproduces and discusses items from Marilyn Monroe's personal archive. In addition to her books on Monroe, Banner is a major collector of her artifacts. Banner is a professor of history and gender studies at USC and lives in Southern California.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* By dint of exhaustive research and uniquely informed analysis, distinguished and trailblazing feminist historian Banner has written a profoundly redefining bombshell biography of artist and icon Marilyn Monroe. Banner is the first to bring a scholar's perspective to bear on the influence of postwar misogyny and sexual hypocrisy on Monroe's life and work as she painstakingly chronicles Monroe's shunting from one foster home to another, her sexual abuse and subsequent stutter, evangelical upbringing, daring foray into modeling, and epic battle for Hollywood success. Intellectual rigor and insight shape Banner's coverage of Monroe's debilitating endometriosis, chronic insomnia, prescription-drug addiction, numerous sexual relationships, reliance on psychoanalysis, and three troubled marriages. Banner breaks new ground with her sensitive disclosure of the star's toxic fear of the exposure of her sexual attraction to women, an utter disgrace for a reigning sex symbol in a harshly homophobic time. And her revelations about the role of the Kennedys and the FBI in Monroe's death are appalling. On the upside, Banner celebrates Monroe's perfectionism, generosity, humanist political views, trickster humor, covert brilliance, daunting process of self-creation, and immense cultural resonance. A passion for precision and truth fuels Banner's electrifying portrait of an artist caught in a maze of paradoxes and betrayals. Here is Marilyn as we've never seen her before.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fifty years after her mysterious death, Marilyn Monroe remains an enigma. Drawing on new interviews with friends of Monroe's who have never talked to other biographers and on newly available archival material about Monroe's childhood, her marriages, and her death, historian and gender theorist Banner elegantly and skillfully chronicles Monroe's short life from her transient childhood in foster homes and her early, unhappy marriage to Jim Dougherty to her rise to screen star and sex symbol and her unfortunate early death. Banner paints a portrait of Monroe as a complicated, many-faceted woman who studied mystical texts, read widely and took courses at UCLA, pioneered the sexual revolution and challenged censorship codes, honored the working-class individuals whose adoration had made her a star through their fan mail, and strove for perfection even though she very often spiraled out of control. Like other Monroe biographers, Banner ranges over the best-known facts of Monroe's life-the affair with Jack Kennedy, her tempestuous relationship with Arthur Miller, Joe DiMaggio's love for her-but she offers a lengthy discussion of theories about the cause of Monroe's death. Banner points to Gene Kelly's recollection, among others, that Monroe was very happy and very excited about her future projects as evidence that perhaps the actress's death was not suicide. In the end, Monroe's life was so full of paradox, passion, magic, and mystery that it has made her into a symbol of the American imagination that transcends time and place. Agent: William Clark. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Let Us Now Praise Famous Womenp. 1
Part I The Matrix, 1926-1946p. 11
Chapter 1 Mothers, 1926-1933p. 13
Chapter 2 Trauma, 1933-1938p. 44
Chapter 3 Transcendence: Ana and Jim, 1938-1944p. 71
Chapter 4 Photographers and Producers, 1944-1946p. 98
Part II Hollywood, 1946-1955p. 127
Chapter 5 Storming the Citadel, 1946-1951p. 129
Chapter 6 Marilyn Ascending, 1951-1954p. 163
Chapter 7 Breakaway, 1954-1955p. 199
Part III Entr'acte: A Woman for All Seasonsp. 235
Chapter 8 The Meaning of Marilynp. 237
Part IV New York, 1955-1960p. 271
Chapter 9 New York, 1955-1956p. 273
Chapter 10 Arthur, 1956-1959p. 304
Chapter 11 The Misfits, 1959-1960p. 334
Part V Return to Hollywood, 1961-1962p. 365
Chapter 11 Denouement, 1961-1962p. 367
Chapter 13 Defiance and Deathp. 396
Afterwordp. 427
Acknowledgmentsp. 433
Manuscript Collections Consulted and List of Abbreviationsp. 437
List of Intervieweesp. 443
Notesp. 445
Indexp. 497

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