Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy

Dozens of full-length biographies have been written about Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962), and most concentrate on her struggle with drugs, depression and anxiety. What makes Elizabeth Winder's Marilyn in Manhattan so refreshing and eye opening is her focus on the 14-month period when Monroe left Hollywood and moved to New York City. At the height of her career, in late 1954, Monroe moved east to train with Lee Strasberg and free herself from a long-term contract with 20th Century Fox that kept her underpaid and gave her no creative voice in her film projects. "For the first time she felt accepted," writes Winder. "Unlike glassy, judgmental Hollywood, New York embraced her quirks and creativity."

New York centered and revitalized the 28-year-old actress. Winder (Pain, Parties, Work, about Sylvia Plath) uncovers a gifted, intelligent and vulnerable woman who was far more complex than her sultry blonde bombshell image. She left her second husband, Joe DiMaggio, and took control of her life and career, founding her own production company with photographer Milton Greene and moving to Manhattan with Greene and his wife. She made friends with writers and intellectuals, studied with Method actors and refused all film offers. After a year away from Hollywood, she negotiated a new contract, won her dream film role (Bus Stop) and began a relationship with playwright Arthur Miller.

Winder writes with ease, mixing first-hand recollections from numerous biographies to create a vital and upbeat oral history of Monroe's emotional rebirth. Marilyn in Manhattan is an essential missing piece in her life story that enriches her legend. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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