Excerpt: 'The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,' by J. Randy Taraborrelli

Therefore, separating truth from fiction is not an easy task -- especially since a good deal of the fanciful tales about her were created by the lady herself! Then there's the residue of old Hollywood's public relations tactics. Some of those who were personally involved in Marilyn's life were products of a vastly different era. Once upon a time, there was a hands-off policy when it came to the images of celebrities, and there is to this day, among surviving members of that community, a feeling of reverence -- a respect for the way the studios wanted us to view movie stars ... From a distance.

However, Marilyn's presence, both onscreen and off, promised something quite different. She often appeared open and available, as if the answer to anything you wanted to know about her was just a question away. That, though, was an illusion. You see, Marilyn Monroe had a love-hate relationship with the truth, and at times with reality itself. It's no great mystery why she so desperately tried to avoid the truth. Often it was agonizing, unbearable, and, she hoped, escapable. Why? Because, Marilyn -- the picture of glamour and confidence to the outside world -- was a woman far more troubled than most people knew.

Though she would try to hide it from the world with her seamless portrayal of style and wit, those closest to her were privy to her deepest, darkest secret: She feared for her own sanity. Because her grandmother and mother were committed to insane asylums, Marilyn lived with the constant threat of impending madness. The often heartwrenching war she fought with her own mind has never, until now, been properly examined and presented. Thankfully for this biography, many of Marilyn's contemporaries were convinced to come forward and discuss the specifics of her secret battle. These interviewees, many in the twilight of their lives, were vital to the completion of this book.

In part, I believe their cooperation came with the realization that certain details of Marilyn's life had not yet been accurately revealed, and that the truth of her struggles would die with them. Much of what can be taken from Marilyn Monroe's story is inspirational. After all, she is a woman who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to become not only adored and respected but also, arguably, the biggest movie star in all the world.

While a large part of her life was spent building and maintaining her career, in private Marilyn was passionate in her quest for family. She sought the permanency that the notion of a family promised. Sadly, it rarely delivered. Undaunted, she maintained close relationships with a mother who was constantly being institutionalized and a half sister the world didn't know existed. On these pages, you will read about those fascinating relationships for the first time, and numerous others that have been previously misunderstood. Marilyn also went to great lengths to identify and then meet her father. Indeed, her quest for genuine and meaningful bonding would continue throughout her life.

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