This morning I stopped at the grocery store on my way back from my morning walk and there, on the magazine rack in the check-out lane, was a Time-Life tribute to Marilyn Monroe. It’s pretty amazing when you think of it: More than 50 years after her death, she still commands precious impulse-buying space in America’s retail establishments and remains capable of knocking the currently famous off the racks. And, as the magazine cover shows, she’s one of the few “one-word” celebrities, too — just “Marilyn.”
Marilyn Monroe has to be the most durable celebrity in American history — and given America’s longstanding obsession with celebrities, that’s saying something.
What is it about Marilyn Monroe that causes magazine publishers to roll out new editions about her, when most of the current magazine-buying public wasn’t even born at the time of her death? She was a beauty and sexual icon, of course, who was a gifted comic actress and likable personality on the big screen. She married famous men and divorced them, reportedly had dalliances with politicians and jet-setters, and died a mysterious death. It’s an interesting story, to be sure, but it has long since been told, over and over. And yet, here she is in the summer of 2017, once more in the public eye.
Will the fascination with Marilyn Monroe ever end? Is any other American celebrity even close to her in terms of staying power?