When Marilyn Met the Queen by Michelle Morgan

You can always tell the quailty of a non-fiction book if the auther has included a section of source notes, in this deep dive into Monroe’s time in England filming The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, Morgan includes more than 40 pages of source notes, broken down by chapter.

The genesis of this book was born in the 1990s when Morgan was running The Marilyn Lives Society fan club, however the project was shelved because, when she started her writing career she was told there would be no interest in it, despite members of the club excitedly demanding it.

Now 30 years on and with many more years of research that book is finally here. Published by Robinson, the book takes the reader through the complete journey of the filming of Showgirl, from the early planning stages until the end of filming and beyond.

The depth of information in this book is astonishing with even the most ardent and die hard Monrow student bound to find some new information, from behind the scenes incidents to little tidbits about who desgined the dress for the Royal Command Performance. Quotes from people such as Norman Wisdom, Donal SInden, Olivier, Dame Sybil Thorndyke and more give an eyewitnes account of Monroe at the studio.

Over the years Morgan has spoken to mant people (sadly some of them now gone) about meeting Marilyn either at Pinewood or Englefield Green and London, and these reminicences bring to light the personal Marilyn, the human being behind the persona, as well as showcasing her star power during personal appearances and even in events arranged up and down the UK in honor of her visit. The lengths that some of her fans go to is amusising.

The filming of Showgirl was not a happy time for Monroe or Olivier, and it could be said that by the time filming ended they detested eachother, however Morgan does not side with either Monroe or Olivier and that is so refreshing, nor does she judge Monroe’s husband Arthur Miller for an incident that occured, (Miller bashing seems to be a popular hobby of some Marilyn fans) during the early dys of their marriage instead laying out the facts as they are available.

This is not a dark book, there are many light hearted moments including Marilyn receving lots of bicycles after saying she wasnted to cycle in the English countryside among others.

For those who have doubts about Colin Clark’s version of events as presented in his 2 volumes, it will come as no surprise that this book does not have much in the way of information from him and in fact some of the things he claims are eerily similar to things that happened with someone else in her entourage.

No conjectures, no bias, instead an honest and beautilfully written account of a time in Marilyn’s life which should have been happy and full of cheer, but instead ended up being a fairly miserable time for all concerened. However, the film that resulted from this time has some of the most beautifully photographed images of Monroe ever to be captures on film.

Don’t miss this one 5/5

About Andrea Pryke

I have been collecting Marilyn Monroe items since 1990 and the collection includes around 400 books, as well as films, documentaries, dolls, records and all sorts of other items
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