Who Killed Marilyn Monroe?
Washington Post investigative reporter Joe Stephens, the first person to obtain the FBI's confidential files on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Norman Mailer, offers the last of several peeks inside the documents.
By Joe Stephens
Washington Post Staff Writer
In the summer of 1973, a gossip columnist dialed up the former head of the FBI's Los Angeles office and broke some bad news. Norman Mailer was finishing a book alleging that the FBI had seized phone records showing that Marilyn Monroe called the White House shortly before she died from an overdose in 1962.
In fact, the FBI soon heard, the book might imply the Bureau had something to do with the movie star's death.
"Mailer suggests that 'right-wing' FBI and CIA Agents had a 'huge motivation' to murder Marilyn Monroe in order to embarrass the Kennedy family," a previously confidential FBI memo states.
"Mailer is an eccentric but well-known author. ... He states his motive in writing the book is his dire need for money," the memo said. "The Bureau may desire to explore what avenues might possibly be utilized which would result in the allegation being removed from Mailer's book."
News of the FBI's hand-wringing comes from newly released internal files, obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act. Last week, the Washington Post Investigations blog reported that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had ordered an agent to prepare an internal book review of Mailer's best-selling 1968 book, Miami and the Siege of Chicago. (The agent didn't like it.)
Bureau records show that, five years later, news of Mailer's book on Monroe once again roiled the executive offices at the FBI -- and prompted the G-men to once again play amateur book reviewers.
FBI officials were alerted to the book's pending publication, not by intrepid investigation by the Bureau's finest, but by Lloyd Shearer of Parade Magazine. (FBI files identified Shearer as editor of the publication; actually, he was a well-known gossip columnist.)
The file includes the sort of just-the-facts minutia for which the Bureau is famed. At one point, a memorandum noted Mailer's book would be "priced at $19.95."
Ultimately, the Bureau decided the best course was to do nothing.
"No action is recommended regarding Mailer's allegations," one memo says. "Any public statement by the FBI would merely serve to feed the fire of publicity which Mailer is attempting to stoke."
Have a look at the details for yourself:
By The Editors |
November 25, 2008; 2:06 PM ET
The Mailer Files
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