More than 600 books are written about Marilyn Monroe. Biographies in all sorts, from made up and all about scandal to serious and well researched. You can ask the question if it is possible to bring a new biography with more than 1200 pages.
And the answer is a whole hearted ‘yes’!
Gary Vitacco Robles wrote a biography in two volumes. Volume I covers the years 1926-1956 and has 584 pages, volume II covers the years 1956-1962 and has 678 pages. That does not include notes, film synopsis, literaturelist etc.
As far as I am concerned, Icon, the life, times and films of Marilyn Monroe is the definite biography, there is nothing that can be added to this.
It looks like Gary Vitacco Robles used almost every available source there is about Marilyn Monroe. So he is very capable in explaining why some biographers got things wrong, they did not have all the sources or did not use all of it.
I like Icon because it gives new information in all the details it gives.
Second reason to love Icon is that it is such a balanced and neutral biography. It is written with sympathy for Marilyn, and I think it would be impossible to write 1200 pages about a person you do not like, but it is not a hagiography. And it does not focus on the sensation and the scandal. Many myths, like her alleged affairs with the Kennedy’s and the complot-theories about her death, are put to rest.
Her difficult childhood, her devotion to her work, her three marriages, her affairs with men like Frank Sinatra and Yves Montand, her crippling insecurity and her wish to be seen as a serious actress are all well known. And yet Icon gives us new information and adds details that give us a more complete Marilyn.
A couple of things stood out for me. Marilyn Monroe was an intelligent woman who worked very hard to be taken seriously as an actress. There was nobody in Hollywood who worked harder than she did. And despite her stardom, she remained one of the friendliest and kindest persons in Hollywood. She never forgot old friends, was always interested in other people and was a sweetheart to her fans. She was a genuinely good person.
The book does not end with her tragic death, but also tells us what happened with Marilyn’s legacy, her memory and the people who knew her.
Icon is a biography in two beautiful volumes (I own the hardback versions) and very special is that there are no photographs at all in the books. Only the cover-photo’s give us the Marilyn we know, the rest is done in words, and done very well. These words do justice to this truly remarkable woman the world had to say goodbye to too soon.
An amazing biography.
Published in 2014