The Passion and the Paradox
Lois Banner

Hardcover/303 pages
ISBN: 97801-60819-531-2

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". . .unique analytical biography of Marilyn Monroe’s personas. . ."

Academic scholar and feminist Lois Banner’s unique analytical biography of Marilyn Monroe’s personas, “Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox,” includes previously-unearthed materials to establish how historical events and “geography of gender” intersected to produce a worldwide icon of beauty and glamour.

Banner initially dismissed Marilyn as a “sexpot” until she was challenged by her third-generation feminist students who viewed Marilyn’s self-sexualizing as liberating and empowering. Instead, Banner concludes Marilyn would be recognized as a feminist if she’d live into her 70s because she successfully molded herself to become not only a notable woman by creating her own style and but also by challenging the male-dominated movie industry and puritan norms.

Referencing some biographers and dismissing others as frauds, Banner depicts Marilyn’s life as shaped by sexual abuse she suffered as a child while living in foster homes because her mother had been committed to a mental institution. She also portrays Marilyn as a “genius” based on documented scientific factors: Her creative persona blossomed like a “new born” when she first posed and a camera flashed, she displayed obsessive concentration in achieving her goal to become a great actress, all simultaneously in sync with a historical era.

Banner suggests that Marilyn did not commit suicide in 1962, but more likely was administered a lethal enema by someone. Suspicion points toward the FBI who under J. Edgar Hoover spied on Marilyn because of her left-leaning political views, or perhaps even somehow Robert F. Kennedy, with whom allegedly she was having an affair and quarreled earlier in the day, had something to do with her demise.

Banner’s enlightening analysis gifts the reader with its in-depth exploration of how social and historical events intervene in the creation and destruction of a human who rises to star status.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla