When I wrote my attempt at a biography of Marilyn Monroe, I never imagined that it would be read by anyone outside my close family and friends. However, a copy found its way to a fan who knew the author Michelle Morgan... Michelle got in touch with me... and several months later, a few more people have now read my book and I have acquired new friends right around the globe. So the blog’s title and main photo are in your honour Michelle... look what you’ve started!!
In some ways, I actually feel a bit of a fraud. I played cricket for 25 years before
writing took over as a serious hobby; I only started finding out about Marilyn after researching and compiling a book about the life of Jean Harlow... and I only wrote about Jean because she was born in the same week in 1911 as my grandmother... and I only found that out whilst tracing my family tree. So whilst I duly spent several months trying to extract fact from fiction and complete a book that did the subject justice (or as much justice as my ability would allow), I have been genuinely amazed at the depth of knowledge the true
fans have about Marilyn and her life... and the love that exists for this remarkable young woman.
Amongst the reviews I’ve received about Something Had to Give was one from author Tara Hanks, who called me “Kirby” like my Dad used to when he taught me German at school! She thought I’d read books by Spoto and Leaming... confession time... I hadn’t and I haven’t. It is to my eternal shame that my books rely solely on internet research and my let’s just say offbeat writing style (hence my continuing impoverished status!). Apart from proof reading my own stuff, I have only read six books in the last five years: the story of Cassius Clay’s fights with Sonny Liston, a Jean Harlow bio, cricketer Marcus Trescothick’s life story and three books about Marilyn (two were holiday reading, the other was Michelle’s book... which is brilliant; the most lovingly researched book I’ve ever seen).
And then I find there are literally hundreds of books that have been written about Marilyn Monroe... and some people have shelves crammed with literally hundreds of books written about Marilyn Monroe. I have one bookshelf... it’s not very big... and it’s not very full. So when people like Michelle, Marijane, Marisa, Jackie, Maureen et al who have forgotten more than I’ll ever know about Marilyn “accept” me as a writer and then as a friend, well it’s all quite humbling really.
There were a few moments during the compilation of my book where I was truly touched by Marilyn Monroe... and I’d like to share one of them. It was 29th June 1956 and a chaotic press conference was being held for Marilyn and Arthur Miller to announce their impending wedding. The event was played out against the backdrop of the tragic death of Mara Scherbatoff, killed in a car crash as vehicles sped along country roads to get to Arthur Miller’s Roxbury retreat.
In amongst the confusion came this random question: “Miss Monroe, a school teacher has just gotten a letter from an eleven year-old boy in which he was to write about three wishes – what he would do with three wishes – and he said that he would like money first and second to be an engineer and third he says ‘when I grow up I want to have a blonde; she has to have blue eyes, she has to be like Marilyn Monroe. This is my life’. Now you were the third choice on that…”
At this point, Marilyn interrupted to simply say: “I’m flattered!”, then clings tightly to her intended. In that split second, I believe you catch a glimpse of the real Marilyn Monroe. She is genuine, she is beautiful, but she is vulnerable too... I’ve added the clip (it's silent at the start) so you can watch for yourself, but if I could encapsulate some of the reasons why I wanted to try and dig below the surface and understand just a little about this amazing woman, then perhaps one second of this video does just that...
All my own work... almost.