cover image Marilyn and Me: Sisters, Rivals, Friends

Marilyn and Me: Sisters, Rivals, Friends

Susan Strasberg. Warner Books, $21.95 (282pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51592-4

Marilyn Monroe was 29 when she became acting coach Lee Strasberg's favorite student and protegee in New York City. Over the next eight years the screen goddess was a sisterly friend and household rival of actress Susan Strasberg, just 17 when they met. Susan for a time shared her bedroom with this envied intruder, object of the paternal adulation of her famous father, who was impersonal and critical with his own children, by this account. The author swings between admiration and disillusionment with Monroe, who sketched, wrote poetry and sympathized with underdogs when she wasn't floundering in depressed insomnia or drug-induced paranoia. This wise, intimate, affecting portrait reveals hidden facets of Monroe's quicksilver personality. A convert to Judaism after her marriage to Arthur Miller, she peppered her conversation with Yiddishisms. The book includes two self-portraits drawn by Monroe plus 16 pages of photos. Strasberg candidly recreates a tense household in which everything revolved around her father's neuroses while her mother Paula, a vibrant actress, eavesdropped and threatened suicide. BOMC featured alternate; author tour. (Apr.)