MM – Personal: from the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is, without a doubt, one of the most extensively written-about movie stars of all time.  She died nearly fifty years ago and new books about her are still being published regularly.  By now, and I say this as a longtime fan of hers, it’s gotten to the point where I feel like saying, “How much more is there to possibly say about this woman?”  But luckily for Marilyn Monroe fans, Lois W. Banner has found a side of Marilyn that the public has never seen before.

In her new book “MM – Personal: from the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe,” Banner presents an intimate look at the life of Marilyn Monroe through thousands of letters, telegrams, receipts, photographs, press clippings, other documents and mementos that had all been in the possession of Marilyn’s former business manager Inez Melson for many years.  The book isn’t heavy on text, but all these documents and other objects have been very lovingly photographed.  The letters are photographed very clearly so you can easily read every word in them.  Even the most mundane items like receipts were thoughtfully arranged for lovely two-page spreads.

This book is interesting because it works on a few different levels.  It’s beautiful to flip through and look through all the pictures, so it works as a coffee table book.  Like I said, it’s not particularly heavy on the text, but that’s just the text written by Banner.  In this case, the pictures do most of the talking — or in this case, the writing.  There are so many documents photographed for the book that if you wanted to go through and actually read all the of them, you’d have some pretty serious reading material right there.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone just becoming acquainted with Marilyn’s life, but to longtime fans looking for a deeper understanding of her, this is a goldmine.  Usually, I don’t think of coffee table books as being particularly insightful, but this book pulls it off.  This is pretty much the most truly “behind the scenes” glimpse of Marilyn you could possibly want.  It’s very rare to find a book that truly does offer something new about Marilyn anymore, it’s a real gem.