Book Review: Frank & Marilyn

A book on the relationship between Frank and Marilyn is long overdue. As a fan of Epstein’s work, I was excited to dig into this one. I’m going to start by pointing out how this book features great interviews with the likes of Hal Schafer and Amy Greene. Although these interviews won’t be new for the die-hard Marilyn fans, they are great to have and reread. They also paint a fuller portrait of Monroe’s person.

Onto the bad: There are A LOT of inaccuracies in the book in regards to Monroe. I cannot speak on the Sinatra information because I’m not well-versed in his life, but some of the Monroe inaccuracies include:

– Routinely using “Norma Jean,” It was always Norma Jeane, and Marilyn made sure to always include the ‘e’ on the end. Those who used the name in letters long after she became Monroe also included the ‘e.’

– Using long debunked Robert Slatzer as a source.

– Repeating Colin Clark’s claim that Monroe was pregnant during the filming of TPATS. Marilyn wasn’t pregnant during production, but Vivien Leigh was.

– “The dress she wore to sing in Korea was worn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” The dress was from her personal wardrobe, The outfit Epstein is thinking of was actually a forest green outfit.

– Claiming Milton Greene only got $50,000 for leaving MMP. Greene actually received his full investment back due to installment payments that lasted into 1961 as well as keeping personal items he’d purchased through the MMP account such as antiques in England.

– Claiming Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP) was dissolved after Greene left the company. The company continued until Marilyn’s death. She received her salary through it to pay a lower tax rate, a common practice at the time. The IRS made claims totaling over $90,000 against her estate due to this cycle.

– Saying Frank Sinatra bought her the white beaver coat. Marilyn bought that coat herself.

– Ignoring that Marilyn wanted Frank Sinatra for Some Like It Hot over Tony Curtis, a rather big omission in a book about the two of them.

– Repeating long debunked death rumors at the end.

– Repeating Kennedy affair rumors that are unsubstantiated.

– Claiming Marilyn was calling the White House non-stop when her phone records show she did not (although, she did call Bobby Kennedy every Tuesday starting in June 1962).

– Saying she spent the weekend with JFK at Bing Crosby’s house when it’s well-documented she spent that Sunday with Norman Rosten. Also ignores that Bobby Kennedy was there as well.

– Claiming there are pictures of Marilyn leaving Payne Whitney and that Pat Newcomb escorted her out. Marilyn was released by Dr. Kris who rode in a car driven by Ralph Roberts. There were no photographers present. The following day, Marilyn checked into Columbia Presbyterian where she stayed for nearly a month. The author is confusing those photos with the Payne Whitney release.

– Claiming Dr. Kris worked with Marilyn throughout 1962. Dr. Kris was fired after the Payne Whitney fiasco. Care was transferred to Greenson (who’d worked with Marilyn since 1960).

– Claiming Pat Newcomb entered her life in 1962. Pat had worked with Marilyn on-and-off since 1956.

The timelines in the book are quite odd as well. The author gets dates off by months and sometimes years, making for a very confusing reading experience. I had a hard time following a lot of claims because they’re just wildly off base. I went through the source list on the book and my issues made sense; nothing was newer than the 90s in regards to Marilyn. The key issue with that is a lot of new stuff has come to light since 2000. If this book relied on newer source material, I think it could make for a fascinating read. However, it comes across as dated because of out-dated information.

Overall, I give this book two stars because the first 20% or so is quite good. The Wrong Door Raid is well done (although it is irritating to ignore that Joe had Marilyn followed since she announced their separation). Hopefully a second edition with updated information will get released at some point that will make this book a must-have on anyone’s shelf.

For those who want to brave a read, the book will be released on December 13, 2022. I received a free review copy from NetGalley.

2/5 because I’m feeling kind

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