Happy birthday, Marilyn Monroe


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Norma Jean Mortenson was born on this day in 1926 right here in Los Angeles; she would endure a difficult childhood and become screen star Marilyn Monroe.

Although she often played blond bimbos, Monroe was quite a reader. There’s a photograph of Monroe reading ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce in what looks like down time during a playground photo shoot. Of course, since it’s Marilyn, she’s wearing a bathing suit. Such is the price of pinup-dom.


When she died in 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s library included ‘The Fall’ by Albert Camus; a book of lectures by J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atom bomb; stories by Chekhov; Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’; Sherwood Anderson’s ‘Winesburg, Ohio’; two books by Theodore Dreiser; three books by Bertrand Russell; lots of plays; ‘Moses and Monotheism’ by Sigmund Freud; and ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert. Those are all part of Marilyn Monroe’s library as cataloged by volunteers on the website LibraryThing.

In 2010, Farrar, Straus and Giroux released a book of Monroe’s own writings, ‘Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe.’ In our review, Richard Schickel noted that the book showed how much Monroe ‘became a devoted reader of serious literature.’

Happy 85th birthday, Marilyn Monroe.


Marilyn Monroe, in her own words

Review: ‘Fragments’ by Marilyn Monroe

Are Marilyn Monroe’s musings worthwhile?


-- Carolyn Kellogg