JFK, Marilyn, Elvis: Trashing the dead with books

Sleaze Lit, and too much information Photo: Marilyn Monroe

NEW YORK, February 20, 2013 - I slept with Marilyn Monroe.

Can you prove otherwise? That’s right. You can’t, and that’s my point.

Or, as they’d say around my home, “Too much information, Dad.”

I say the same about books that keep coming out about dead celebrities, told by people who were intimate with them, or so they say.

I do not need all that information.

Let me depart from books for a second to talk about a film that was made for HBO about Hemingway and Gellhorn, starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman. This was okay as these specials go, but I did not need those sex scenes, and I turned my head when I knew what was coming, a momentary glimpse of Owen’s back end, meant to convey Hemingway in heat, in addition to his posterior.

Thank you, but I don’t need that about an American legend. Nor do I need all those tell-alls that defame the reputations of people we revere and idolize.

Is this an American thing, this need to destroy our heroes? I call it Sleaze Lit.

Again on HBO, here we have Alfred Hitchcock as “mad about that Girl” – and nothing else. He comes off hateful and humorless and now dead, of course.

In other words, we get one side about people no longer among the quick.

Out comes a book by Rita Moreno (one of my favorites) and today I learn that Brando was a sex machine and that Elvis was a dud.

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I may never visualize Brando the same way again, and certainly not Elvis who, over the years, I’ve come to appreciate.

There is a good and legit bio of Elvis by Peter Guralnick, but that is literally a different story. In fact, real biographies by real biographers belong in a different category than gossip mongers, and frankly, I don’t know what to make of Kitty Kelley and Andrew Morton. I will more or less trust that the research was done.

Norman Mailer did his book on Marilyn (guessing all the way), and Peter Manso did his book on Mailer, but these are biographers who make no other claim.

We’re talking about those authors who claim to have shared their lives, and bedrooms, with our gods. Can we believe what they say?

Remember, they can say whatever they want….anything about anybody…as long as that person is gone.

The actor Frank Langella wrote a book in which he makes minced-meat out of nearly everybody, particularly those who are no longer around to defend themselves, like a particular sweetheart of mine and of the silver screen, Anne Bancroft. Do we really need to know that she was so vain that only the mirror was her friend?

More important, is this really true?

Or is this just one man’s opinion? Or is it one man getting even?

Mel Brooks can’t be happy and I’m not happy, for this is not biography and it is not memoir, it is bitchery.

Yes, I know, that’s what sells. I also know that when a prospective peeping tom approaches a publisher the question goes like this:

“Can you spill the beans? Can you dish the dirt?”

Langella also scandalizes John F. Kennedy, and who hasn’t? Seems to me that nearly anyone who was in or around the 1960s has since “revealed the truth” about our handsome 35th president. For a time I believed all those stories about his supposed lechery. But as these books and movies started piling up and piling on, I began to wonder.

If true, when did Kennedy have time to inaugurate the Peace Corps and get us to the moon?

I am starting to think that Kennedy was absolutely loyal to Jackie, like a monk, and that he planted the gossip himself to distract us from knowing that he was in constant pain. Either way, some respect maybe for a president who was assassinated?

Not quite. A lady named Mimi Alford caused the latest stir. She wrote a book (who hasn’t?) and appeared with Meredith Viera on TV to talk about her steamy affair with Kennedy, some of which got into perversion. As we get it, she started off as an intern, then named Mimi Beardsley, and next thing you know she was canoodling with the president in bed and in swimming pools. (Oh those interns!)

That happened in 1962. She broke the news 2012.

Is all that true? Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as we enjoy watching the dead squirm. How reliable are memoirs anyway? See as revealed here.

Now it’s back to my book, “How I Scored with Ava Gardner.


Jack Engelhard is a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba DeadlineThe Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, his memoir Escape From Mount Moriah, and  Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer, bring his words to the Communities page covering all topics, with special focus on the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Jack Engelhard

Jack Engelhard enjoys international fame as a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, which was turned into film starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His memoir Escape From Mount Moriah has been acclaimed for excellence and a movie version was an official selection at CANNES. Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer. Engelhard’s journalism covers all topics, with special focus on  the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe. He can be contacted at www.jackengelhard.com


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