The first full-length Marilyn Monroe biography was written by Maurice Zolotow. In 1961, James Haspiel, fan and friend of Marilyn’s, took it upon himself to write a letter to Zolotow, informing him that many of his “facts” were actually false–and was willing to prove it. Marilyn herself was very upset about the book especially because it was unauthorized. Zolotow was interested in Haspiel’s knowledge of Monroe and asked to meet with him. Zolotow went to Haspiel’s home to watch the Academy Awards and to, of course, discuss the faults in his book.
Zolotow came in, we socialized for a time, and then I began the process of presenting to Maurice the absolute proof of every fact that I had challenged him on in my letter suggesting his “injustice” to his subject, Miss Monroe. Point by point, I erased from Zolotow’s mind his versions of any number of “facts” about my lady friend that I could prove were false.
Hours passed and, in fact, we never did watch the telecast of the Academy Awards. Finally, at the end of the long evening, Maurice said to me, “Jim, you would probably be interested in the British edition of my book; it just came out this week, and it contains an extra chapter, as well as Marilyn’s calendar pictures” (not permitted in the American edition), at which point, I reached behind my chair to an end table shelf, and I responded, “Actually, I went out and bought a copy this afternoon, Maurice.” Holding the volume in my hand, I then asked, “Would you consider writing something in this to me?” Without a pause, Maurice answered, “I certainly would.” Maurice then took the book and wrote in it. I ask the reader’s patience here…
On June 14th, Marilyn returned from Hollywood, and she was with Ralph Roberts, her masseur and good friend. We greeted. I had the Zolotow book with me. I knew well by this time that the book was a sore subject with her, that it wasn’t something you could bring up lightly, surely not an item you would place before her face. Regardless, I chose to tell her in detail the story of Maurice Zolotow’s visit to my home, about my letter to him and all that followed because of the tone of it. By the time I had finished telling her the story, Marilyn’s nose was quite literally inches from mine, her beautiful eyes very wide open, and she asked, “What did he write in the book, Jimmy?” That was the signal I was waiting for, so I produced the volume, suggesting, “Why don’t you read what he wrote to me, Marilyn?” She took the book from my hand and read Zolotow’s inscription, a look of satisfaction, of victory coming upon her face. It was then that I dared ask, “Would you sign it too, Marilyn?” She turned to Roberts, asking, “Do you have a pen, Ralph?” He reached into his jacket pocket and passed a pen to her, then Marilyn looked me square in the eyes and advised, “This is the only one I’ll ever write in, Jimmy!”, the pen pointed at me for obvious emphasis, her words edged with genuine determination, and she wrote. The page reads as follows:
To Jim Haspiel-
who could have
written a better
book on MM-
- to which the flesh and blood personage outside of the book added: