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Lessons from Marilyn Monroe: An appreciation of her work page 2
Carl Rollyson's op-ed column on Marilyn Monroe: Becoming a Biographer

 Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable play a scene in the 1961 film 'The Misfits.'
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Date published: 2/24/2013


Eventually, through Shaye, I found an agent who convinced me no trade house would publish my book. But if I convinced UMI Research Press, publisher of my revised dissertation on William Faulkner, to take the book and limit their rights to a three-year deal for the hardcover, I could launch my biography. Then she negotiated deals for paperback and foreign publication.

I asked readers to consider what Marilyn had been confronted with: the prospect that she was going to portray basically the same character, the so-called "dumb blonde," in picture after picture. If she took herself seriously, then she had to find a way to make each of her characters live within the very narrow range the sex symbol occupied. By describing Monroe's incredible repertoire of gestures--from "Bus Stop" to "The Misfits"--I showed that she was, indeed, a consummate professional and more: She was a great artist. When Gloria Steinem read my book, she concurred, writing this blurb for it: "More than anything else in her life, Marilyn Monroe wanted to be taken seriously as an actress. Rollyson has done just that in 'Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress,' the first and only book that is entirely an analysis and appreciation of her work. It will be important to both film historians and to Marilyn's fans--it would have made Marilyn feel honored and worthwhile."

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Carl Rollyson is author of "Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress."