Review of The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe - Donald H. Wolfe
"Goodbye Norma Jean. Though I never knew you at all" - Candle in The Wind, Elton John
Elton John's famous lyrics summed up my knowledge of Marilyn Monroe who I knew through her legendary status as an actress and pin up girl but really didn't know. I'd watched a couple of her movies and was aware but uneducated when it came to the conspiracies surrounding her unexpected death but other than that hadn't given them or her a lot of thought. But then I read the fascinating "The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe" by Donald H. Wolfe which not only touches on her life, her legendary status but also the conspiracies surrounding her death.
"The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe" starts by covering the events surrounding the death of Marilyn Monroe as she was found dead in her bedroom where the believed cause of death was suicide caused by a drug overdose. What follows over the course of the book is Wolfe's examination of the evidence surrounding the death, the various police investigations and the unexplained occurrences which lead to doubt in it being a suicide. In amongst this is some fascinating information such as the death wasn't reported immediately and that certain people were at Marilyn's home that fateful night including Bobby Kennedy. Having analysed the various facts Wolfe then tries to point the finger of blame at a certain conspiracy which believes to be true and sets about proving this.
Aside from the examination of Marilyn's death Wolfe also delivers a more biographical look at her life. Wolfe rarely leaves any element of her short life uncovered as he looks at her life from birth to an unmarried mother through to her rise to prominence as an actress and pin up. What makes it quite charming is as Wolfe covers the various stages of her life and in particular her career there are snippets from interviews with Marilyn where she discusses how she felt at certain points in her life. In many ways it's also nice that Wolfe delved so thoroughly into Marilyn's life before celebrity as he did when she had become famous because it gives us a clear picture of the woman.
But there is something about the coverage of Marilyn's life when she had become famous which is just as fascinating. You get all the name dropping, the various acquaintances she made, her troubled love life and of course her various performances. It's a masterfully written account of her celebrity status because Wolfe delivers it in such a way that he takes us back to her hay day and you feel you are right there in the time when all this stardom was happening.
Whilst Wolfe does deliver his own beliefs on Marilyn's death as well as backs them up with evidence, he never says that it's the only possibility, in fact he high lights many different ones which could have been just as feasible. But it is the whole feel of the book which works, the examination of the facts along with the look of an icon which makes it such a fascinating read which you literally struggle to put down.