May 3rd, 2018

carole lombard 04
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'The Girl' draws nearer

The author who gave us the well-received biography "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star" (for which I aided in research, in the interest of full disclosure) is back in print, exploring a favorite subject of hers.

Michelle Morgan, perhaps best known for her series of books on Marilyn Monroe, such as "Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed"...

...has written another volume on the iconic star -- this time exploring a specific, and pivotal, period in her life.

Its title -- "The Girl" -- sounds almost generic at first, until you place it in the proper context. That was the name of Monroe's character in 1955's "The Seven-Year Itch," the focal point of this book, set for a U.S. release on Tuesday. (We wrote about this book last September at

A rising star in the early '50s, by 1953 Marilyn was firmly established as big box office in a movie industry looking to withstand the onslaught of television. She had come a long way in a short time, and now wondered what to do next.

Examining Monroe's life to Lombard's at this point yields more differences (and vast ones) than similarities. Whereas Carole came from a relatively secure and well-off family, Marilyn struggled economically throughout her developing years. Lombard was trained as a feminist by her outspoken mother; as she went into modeling and then acting, Monroe largely had to find herself.

And did she ever.

I've long thought images such as the one above lock Monroe into the sex symbol mode, imprisoning her in her time. I much prefer her more relaxed, casual poses, such as this from her final film, "The Misfits":

By the start of the sixties when "The Misfits" was made, Monroe was a radically changed woman, although she still had problems maneuvering through the Hollywood maze. Morgan contends that in the mid-1950s, her consciousness changed, as the archetype for the "dumb blonde" persona so popular in postwar America was becoming more self-aware.

For example, the literary side of Monroe, such as this quote from 1953:

Had Lombard lived into the 1950s, I think she and Marilyn would've become close friends despite their nearly 18-year age difference. Carole would have loved Monroe's iconoclasm. (Marilyn later founded her own production company, something Lombard -- a de facto producer of her final few films -- almost certainly would have done as well.)

Already "The Girl" has won plaudits from several sites for its take on Monroe as feminist (and, like Lombard two decades earlier, becoming one at a time when feminism wasn't cool). For example, this review from the "Immortal Marilyn" website:

As Leslie Kasperowicz writes (, "'The Girl' falls into the rare category of Marilyn Monroe books that show her as a real person who worked hard and took her career and her legacy very seriously." Incidentally, Immortal Marilyn will have a Q & A with Morgan Sunday at 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern at its Facebook site,

Morgan is interviewed about the book at And the Irish women's magazine Image promoted the book in its May issue:

And this review from the Rage Monthly:

All in all, a refreshing take on a star whose human qualities so often are ignored.

"The Girl" can be ordered from at
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