Who Wrote “The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe”? Part 1

First off, I have to thank Jackie Craig for making me look in my files. I haven’t done anything “heavy” on Marilyn for roughly two years so this was a fun look back on where I was. I discussed this briefly on Goodnight Marilyn but due to time constraints, wasn’t able to fully explore the topic like I would have wanted to. Know that the documents that will be presented have been acquired by me directly from the university that has William Fowler’s archives.

I’m not going to go into who Frank Capell and Robert Slatzer, two of the players we will be exploring, are as people in this piece. If you would like to know more about them you can click here for Capell and here for Slatzer. William Fowler was briefly discussed in the Slatzer article relying on the information provided by Spoto but Fowler was not 100% honest with Spoto about his involvement. Fowler was an editor and ghostwriter. I would highly suggest reading those articles before reading this one to get a better idea on who exactly we are talking about. Some of the items discussed in this piece will be a rehash but I promise it’s worth it. I have also made my watermarks as obnoxious as possible so that this stuff stays here.

This is part one of what should be a three part series. The documents presented below solidify the relationship of Capell/Fowler/Slatzer and are the smoking gun that prove just how little Slatzer actually had to do with his own book. Part two will explore how this relationship ended while part three will show how it was brought to the forefront again in the early 90s.

Item 1: June 10, 1965 letter received by Frank Capell from a Ms. Elizabeth Linington. This letter was provided to both Slatzer and Fowler and is likely where all three parties pulled insider information about Norma Jeane’s young adult life for Slatzer’s book. The letter is four pages and deals with Linington’s memories of Norma Jeane. The letter would eventually be published in a Marilyn Monroe fan club newsletter. I think what seems most likely is that it was sent to the newsletter by Slatzer.


Item 2: February 16, 1973 letter to Frank Capell from William Fowler. This letter was sent with a contract negotiating the work to be completed by Slatzer, Capell, and Fowler as well as royalty payment percentages. Fowler ended up taking the month of March off to write The Life and Curious Death starting on March 3, 1973. I believe that Slatzer and Capell came to Fowler with the idea to write the book being this is the first item of dated correspondence between Capell and Fowler.


Items 3-5: Capell returns his signed contract on February 20, 1973. I have three copies of this contract. One was the original, the second was the one that Robert Slatzer signed, and the third is the following. There were no changes to the contact by any of the parties involved. I have highlighted the main portions of the contract that show how all monies were to be split, crediting of writers, and the work expected of all three parties




One thought on “Who Wrote “The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe”? Part 1

  1. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication, April! I loved this post and I’m really looking forward to the next installments!


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