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This article was published 18/8/2018 (928 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Does the world really need another book about Marilyn Monroe? Haven’t we gone over every microsecond of her public and private life, every pore of her amply exposed skin, every twitch of her tortured psyche?

Evidently not.

In the past several months, two books on the 1950s’ most pulchritudinous "sex symbol" have been released. The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist by Michelle Morgan is her third book on the actor. It focuses on the classic 1956 film with the iconic subway-vent scene to argue (thinly) that Monroe was one of the first feminists. It’s a fairly perfunctory, conventional and tame story that provides little that is truly new or convincing. Setting up your own Hollywood production company, as Monroe did in 1955, doesn’t make you a proto-feminist.

Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, meanwhile, is Charles Casillo’s second Monroe book — his first being The Marilyn Diaries (1999, expanded 2014). That book was a novel purported to be the star’s personal diary. This second one is a sympathetic biography with a substantial bibliography (500 book entries and multiple footnotes). While it contains no Earth-shaking new insights, it’s a serious, commendable study.

Most people know the bare bones of Monroe’s life: born to a troubled mother later committed to an asylum, father unknown; passed around to foster homes and orphanages; sexually abused as a child; arranged marriage at 16; exploited and misunderstood by 20th Century Fox Studios; wed to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller; affairs with many powerful men (including the Kennedy brothers); a scandalous Happy Birthday rendition for the president; dead at age 36 from an overdose of sleeping pills.

This is not a Cinderella story. Not just because Monroe was insecure, terribly needy and never truly happy, but because very few men in her life were princes — and that’s what she so desperately wanted and needed. Certainly not Fox’s executives, who had little respect for her talent. Definitely not Miller, portrayed here as a weakling who exploited and betrayed her. Surprisingly not her shrink, Dr. Ralph Greenson, who did more harm than good. And, sadly, not the Kennedys, Jack and Bobby, who abandoned her when she was at her most vulnerable.

DiMaggio, the great Yankee Clipper, was a lifelong prince of a guy. But he couldn’t live with her. A prude, nominal Catholic and contented baseball retiree, he was embarrassed by her promiscuous past and wary of her ambitions. But when she needed someone after their divorce, he regularly dropped everything to comfort her.

HARRIS LEWINE COLLECTION / The Associated Press files</p><p>Charles Casillo’s second book on Marilyn Monroe brings together a wide range of sources.</p>

HARRIS LEWINE COLLECTION / The Associated Press files

Charles Casillo’s second book on Marilyn Monroe brings together a wide range of sources.

In addition to the un-prince-like men, there were some "wicked stepsisters" as well. Her personal secretary Pat Newcomb most surely qualifies. Perhaps Susan Strasberg, too. Liz Taylor, as some assume, most assuredly does not.

Monroe was not a dumb blonde, as she is elsewhere presented. She was a woman with a quick wit and genuine humour, a gifted and sensitive writer as well as a thoughtful, hard-working actor who wanted to be taken seriously.

Her notorious lateness and absences on movie sets were not because she was a prima donna, but because she was a manic depressive wracked by suicidal self-doubt and despair. Her talents and needs were rarely honoured by the people around her.

Casillo’s book attempts to rectify this wrong. Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon is like a massive quilt of a book, assembled artfully from other resources and his own interviews. It’s the latest "last word" on the undeniable, unforgettable, but misunderstood star. It’s a readable refresher course for those caught up in Monroe idolatry, providing some new dimensions to her mythic life.

Gene Walz taught movie courses at the University of Manitoba for almost 40 years.