With the Netflix adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel, Blonde, due for release later this year, Vogue has compiled a short list of ‘what to read, watch and listen to’ while we wait. Marilyn’s own memoir, My Story, is a good choice, while My Week With Marilyn is worth seeing for Michelle Williams’ performance alone.
But although Karina Longworth’s podcast series, Dead Blondes, offers a crash course in Monroe lore, I would suggest a reliable biography to compare and contrast with Oates’ fictional version. Michelle Morgan’s Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed is a great place to start, while Gary Vitacco Robles’ two-volume Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe is catnip for completists.
You can read Marilyn’s innermost thoughts in Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters. This book was also the basis of Liz Garbus’ documentary, Love, Marilyn. In terms of Marilyn’s films, Some Like It Hot is an obvious choice, but I would also recommend Don’t Bother to Knock, Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits to get a fuller sense of her acting range.
Finally, David Wills’ two books, Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis and Marilyn: In the Flash provide a broad overview of her most iconic images, while no survey of MM would be complete without hearing her sing (numerous compilations are available on CD and vinyl.)