Originally, I self-published Murder Orthodoxies during May of 2018; and even before I completed that edition, I was aware that an aggregation of papers existed which proved that Robert Slatzer and the journalist Will Fowler, the second son of legendary newspaper journalist, author and playwright, Gene Fowler, entered into a formal contractual relationship relative to the authorship of Slatzer’s now infamous book, The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe. Even so, rightfully or wrongfully, I decided at that time to forego pursuing those papers and proceeded to finish my manuscript. Besides, I was confident that I had completely discredited Slatzer’s 1974 publication; and I was also confident that any contractual relationship that existed between Slatzer and Fowler would not provide any additional or relevant information pertaining to Marilyn’s death, whether suicide or murder. In late 2018, however, subsequent to the publication of Murder Orthodoxies, I decided to pursue Fowler’s papers and located “The William Randolph Fowler Collection” housed in the Oviatt Library, California State University at Northridge. The collection was voluminous; and its précis indicated that the collection contained more than a few documents pertaining to Will Fowler, Robert Slatzer and the infamous Frank Capell, whose name I did not expect to see. The collection included correspondence between the three men and several other individuals unconnected to Marilyn. From the library’s archive section, I obtained over nine-hundred pages of documents, including Fowler’s notes, his commentary and various literary contracts; but the complete aggregation contained considerably more.
In mid-June of 2019, I self-published a revised and updated version of Murder Orthodoxies; and throughout that revised manuscript, I sprinkled references to and excerpts from Fowler’s documents, the majority of which appeared in Section 4 within the subsection dedicated to Marilyn’s alleged second husband, the ubiquitous, Robert F. Slatzer. While those references appear in this website version of Murder Orthodoxies, I have added some additional references and actual copies of Will Fowler’s documents, both handwritten and typewritten, along with copies of the contracts executed by Slatzer, Fowler and Frank Capell. Those documents are much more than illuminating.
During the course of writing the text which follows hereafter, I had trouble deciding how I should employ the word biography; so I consulted Miriam Webster’s Dictionary, the online version, searching for guidance. Miriam and Webster informed me that a biography is usually a written history of a person’s life. A paper Funk and Wagnall’s resting in my bookcase, not an electronic version, further defined biography by adding the following words: written by someone else. Various articles and opinions of several erudite men and women confirmed the preceding denotations; and a few of the erudite even expressed an opinion that a biography, while usually a non-fiction literary effort, can appear in a fictional form, an assertion which seemed to be nothing less than a goofy oxymoron; but then we live in an goofy, oxymoronic age. Some persons might contend that the age is mostly goofy while some might contend it is mostly moronic.
In a 2009 Newsweek article, “Boswell, Johnson, and the Birth of Modern Biography,” written by Malcolm Jones regarding biographers James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, otherwise known as Dr. Johnson, Malcolm noted, while Boswell’s works featured truthful opinions and Dr. Johnson’s judgments were often blunt, both biographers would be shocked at what passes for biography in today’s Pop Culture world, which features the erosion of private life. At least both Boswell and Johnson were judicious, Jones opined; they did not expose every revolting detail of their subject’s lives, the net result of which would have been their subject’s derogation and degradation by what Joyce Carol Oates labeled pathography, shocking works in which a biographer fastens on to every loathsome detail of a subject’s life, with the result that the subject is not cut down to size but simply cut down.1Even so, Jones asserted, pathographies are actually nothing new; and he referenced Oscar Wilde, who, over a century ago, observed: Every great man has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography. 2
It is rich indeed that Joyce Carol Oates, who wrote the most loathsome corruption ever written about Marilyn Monroe, should object to the proliferation of destructive literary works masquerading as biographies; but Oates’ corruption perfectly represented the horns of my dilemma: should I employ the word biography in relation to the books about Marilyn Monroe written by Ted Jordan, C. David Heymann, Anthony Summers and several others, writers who focused strictly on Marilyn’s foibles and her death while virtually excluding any mention or consideration of her many finer characteristics or what she accomplished during her life? Calling each of those author’s books a biography seemed certainly to be a misapplication of language and represented a word misused, an abrogation of Mark Twain’s golden rule of writing: use the correct word, not its second cousin. However, I relented, mostly because there just are not that many synonyms for the word biography; and occasionally, I used that word relative to certain dubious books with reluctance. On more than a few occasions, though, I used the terms literary works or literary efforts because I found it too distasteful at that particular moment to use the word biography. Most of the books written about Marilyn Monroe are, in fact, pathographies; and many border on being pornographies. Blonde is certainly and clearly a case in point; and considering the number of books written about Marilyn Monroe, over one-thousand I understand, you might anticipate a certain ease finding a good one; and yet, it is difficult to find one that does not have a heavy and undeniable smell of offal. I sincerely hope this text, while not in any way a biographical work, continues the disinfectant efforts undertaken by several other authors and removes a portion of that leaden and lingering offensive smell.