Investigative journalist Anthony Summers, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History for The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden, has updated his 1985 book Goddess: the Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, with significant new material. The content will be featured in a Netflix documentary, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes, which will hit the streaming service April 27. The book is being published in the U.S. by Open Road Media and is available now.

PW spoke with Summers about the revised edition, what new things the public will learn about Monroe and the Kennedys, and more.

What are the most newsworthy aspects of this revised edition, and why are they newsworthy?

By naming names, previously withheld, and publishing long-censored documents, the new Goddess delivers clear answers to long-simmering questions about Marilyn Monroe’s death. That President Kennedy and his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy were compromised by their relationships with Monroe, and, when she died, sought frantically to cover up, should now become historical fact.

How does what you add to the prior edition clarify what actually happened on the day Marilyn Monroe died?

The tick-tock through Marilyn’s final day had been missing vital events. There had always been a gap in the chronology around 9:30p.m., a gap I came to believe could be explained by the celebrated Hollywood hairdresser Sidney Guilaroff—a man trusted not only by Marilyn but, not least, by Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor. Of some 650 people interviewed for my book, Guilaroff was one I was sure was holding something back about the last night. At last, after my book was published, and before he died, he opened up. Marilyn, he said, had phoned him “in despair”, rambling on about betrayals by “men in high places”. She told Guilaroff that Robert Kennedy had been at the house, had told her he was ending their relationship, and that she had threatened to “go public.”

What do you now think happened that night?

I do not indulge the fevered speculation that she was murdered. Because, contrary to what some authors have suggested, there is no evidence to support that theory. Marilyn had abused sleeping pills for years. She had taken pills that last day, her psychiatrist said, and her voice sounded “slurred” on what may have been her final call on the night she died. The autopsy finding would be that her death was “suicide—probable.” From my work in a tangle of information, I think Marilyn Monroe was overwrought about her relationships with both President Kennedy and his brother Robert, felt rejected by both men, had a heated argument with Robert when he visited her house, and then—whether as a cry for help or intending to kill herself—swallowed too many pills. Strong testimony, from multiple source— including a renowned electronic surveillance expert, and a senior FBI agent, named now for the first time, firmly establishes two facts. Criminals, under pressure from the Kennedys, had collected substantial information about the Kennedys’ involvement with Monroe. And when the actress died, the Kennedys moved ruthlessly to hide the evidence of that involvement. The cover-up has gradually unraveled.

Had you been continuing your investigation since the book’s first publication, or did something recent prompt you to take another look? That is, what led to this revised edition?

I was not so much continuing the Monroe work as doing what I always do, keeping the file open—in the same way good law enforcement does—and tracking developments. It was time to bring the book up to date. And the impetus to do so was when Netflix decided to do a 90-minute special based on the evidence in the book—which launches next month. J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI kept a large running file on Marilyn Monroe, not least after her marriage to the playwright Arthur Miller, who was seen by the Bureau as a dangerous left-winger. When my book was being readied for original publication, my Freedom of Information attorney sought the release in particular of two 1962 documents headed tantalisingly “MARILYN MONROE—SECURITY MATTER—C” (C for “Communist”). They remained, then, totally blanked out by the censor’s pen.

At a special briefing, however, an FBI official told my attorney that the report quoted Marilyn, just weeks before her death, as saying she had attended a lunch with one of the Kennedy brothers and that the conversation had included talk about “the morality of atomic testing”. Today, that document has been released, with only a few deletions, under the Freedom of Information Act. The report of a discussion about “atomic testing” came from two people close to Marilyn who had been funnelling information on the actress to the FBI for some time. It is troubling that either Kennedy brother should have discussed nuclear matters—however innocuously—with the talkative Marilyn. For, if the conversation occurred, it took place just months before the Cuban Missile Crisis.

How did you do the research for this book?

AS: The original work for Goddess involved old-fashioned digging—before the days of the Internet. It meant a long stint in Los Angeles and activating a web of researchers across the United States and beyond. Many of the people authentically close to the star had been close-mouthed in the period right after her death. By the time I got to work, though, lips were looser. A few key people, especially those with information about her death, insisted on anonymity. They in turn have now mostly died, and are identified in the new edition. The authenticity of the interviews on Marilyn’s last days derives not least from the fact that virtually all interviews have been preserved on audiotape. Their voices come dramatically to life in the Netflix documentary soon to be aired. All in all, I think, what we have now—after all these years—is a credible account of the last days of Marilyn Monroe, a valid record for history.