In this delightfully comic and touchingly romantic book Colin Clark describes – for the first time – what happened between Marilyn Monroe and himself during the “missing” week from his celebrated diary for 1956, published in 1995 as ‘The Prince, the Showgirl and Me‘.
In 1956, fresh from Eton and Oxford, the twenty-three-year-old Colin Clark was employed as a humble “gofer” on the set of The Prince, and the Showgirl, the film that was intended to unite the talents of sir Laurence Olivier, England’s pre-eminent classical actor, and Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood’s greatest star. From the outset the production was bedevilled by problems, and the clashes between Monroe and Olivier, who was both directing and co-starring, have entered film legend.
Nearly forty years later, Colin Clark’s wonderfully entertaining diary of that time was chosen as their book of the year by Jilly Cooper, Joan Collins and many others. But – one week was missing from the middle of the book. Here, at last, is the story of that week: a delicious idyll in which Clark came to know an unhappy Monroe desperate to escape the pressures of working with Olivier and an often hostile cast and crew, from the crowd of hangers-on who continually surrounded her, and from the burden of stardom itself. Her new husband, Arthur Miller, was away, and the coast was clear for Colin to introduce Marilyn to some of the pleasures of British life. How he unexpectedly ended up sharing a bed is a story readers will have to discover for themselves.
There have been many books about Marilyn Monroe, but few have shed such a compassionate light on her troubled character. ‘My Week with Marilyn‘ is as much a revelation of the oppressive nature of fame as it is an account of a singular week in the life of one of the twentieth century’s greatest icons.
I’m not going to lie to you; I read My Week with Marilyn purely because I wanted to watch the film. Why did I want to watch the film? I wanted to watch it because I have a growing crush on Eddie Redmayne. Yes, I am a slave to the mentality of watching a pretty actor perform on screen and since I have a “books before I looks” rule, I purchased the novel.
It is good.
Like most people I have been charmed by the enigma that is Marilyn Monroe. I can even admit that this is based on legend and not on her acting ability (I have only watched one of her movies) but the story My Week with Marilyn gave me a different perspective on Marilyn Monroe. A perspective not tarnished by the booze and drugs and the tragic end to her short life but one where the make-up has been scrubbed away and you get a glimpse of the insecure mess that she was. I take no pleasure in that fact but it does show you that even the most desirable woman in the world had flaws; something we would all do well to remember.
How much of the story is true? Well that is up to history to decide. All I know is that for nearly 400 pages I was completely charmed by this simple Cinderella story were a regular boy was charmed by the world’s most famous lady.
My Week with Marilyn by Colin Clark is available now.