Marilyn: The Last Interview and Other Conversations

Marilyn Monroe: The Last Interview and Other Conversations is part of a great series – I also own titles on Billie Holiday and Frida Kahlo. The cover art is inspired by the ubiquitous ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch. Personally I don’t find it a very flattering image. But art is subjective, and the contents make this book a highly worthwhile read:

  • ‘The 1951 Model Blonde’: Conversation With Robert Cahn, Collier’s Magazine, September 8, 1951
  • ‘Quizzing Marilyn Monroe’: Interview with Helen Hover, Motion Picture magazine, January 1954
  • ‘The New Marilyn Monroe’: Conversation With Pete Martin, Saturday Evening Post, May 5, 1956
  • Conversation with W.J. Weatherby, 1961: extract from Conversations With Marilyn, published 1975
  • ‘A Last Long Talk With a Lonely Girl’: Conversation with Richard Meryman, LIFE magazine, August 17, 1962

What makes The Last Interview so valuable is that original conversations are reprinted in their entirety. My only wish is that it was longer, as Marilyn also gave lengthy interviews to Marie-Claire, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Redbook; not to mention ‘as told to’ pieces like ‘Wolves I Have Known,’ for Motion Picture & Television magazine (1953), which seems very prescient in the age of #MeToo. But that’s another story for another time, going beyond the remit of this series.

As Sady Doyle writes in her introduction to this book, Marilyn’s own words are more vital in this age of ‘fake news’ than ever before.

“Monroe was so effortlessly quotable that, decades after her death, the ‘Fake Viral Marilyn Monroe Quote’ has become a social plague. Anything at the intersection of ’empowering’ and girly – ‘if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best’; ‘give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world’; ‘it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring’; and so on – winds up attributed to her and slapped up on Instagram after being photoshopped over a smiling picture of her face.

Marilyn Monroe was a sharp observer of her own persona, and surely she would see the irony: the ’empowering,’ quasi-feminist Marilyn Monroe of so many Pinterest boards is just another projected fantasy, no more accurate than the dumb blonde or the obliging sexpot. She’s famous for things she never said, after a lifetime of being denied the right to speak for herself.”