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The Independent Culture
Donald Spoto's wholesale trashing of previous chroniclers of Marilyn Monroe's life in Marilyn Monroe: The Biography has produced predictable results. Anthony Summers, author of Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, feels compelled to protect his reputation after being denounced by Spoto as untrustworthy, and his work described as 'the popularly accepted and unworthy source book' of unsubstantiated rumour-mongering.

'Spoto's suggestion that the Kennedy brothers had no compromising involvement with Monroe seems to be merely a publicity device. Readers of Goddess will see how shaky his thesis is. His theory about the manner of her death is not original, and appeared for the first time in Goddess. As for Spoto's personal attack on me and my work, I'm taking legal advice. For that reason, I will limit myself to saying that his comments are without foundation.'

Readers of both books will note that Summers does produce verification of, and witnesses to, the Kennedy-Monroe connection, in the shape of Senator George Smathers, who says he heard of both romances from President Kennedy himself. Moreover, Spoto's complaints do seem a trifle odd coming from a writer whose Olivier biography announced a gay affair between Olivier and Danny Kaye without, as critic Alexander Walker pointed out, producing direct or convincing evidence.

Any future court case would, of course, introduce Summers's exhaustive investigative files, which he says will rebut the remainder of Spoto's other charges. And perhaps refashion the lucrative star-biography market, notorious for its pathological rivalries and dirt-dishing eagerness for new angles on old, and possibly exhausted, material: Spoto told one MM newsletter that no other biographer would count after his tome was in circulation.

But what is it about Monroe, decades after her death, that inspires male authors to such territorial frenzies and rescue fantasies? 'I don't know' says Summers. 'I was never a fan.'

Schlock-Horror: At Cannes, in competition: the vilely reviewed Eric Idle 'comedy' Splitting Heirs, once touted as the next A Fish Called Wanda, now exposed as Blame it on the Bellboy 2.

Tearaways: The marketing influence of Jagged Edge's torn-look / two-word title poster lingers on. After Fatal Attraction and Physical Evidence, er, ripping off the motif, the forthcoming Indecent Proposal also tears off a strip.

Sick sequels: American chat show host Jay Leno jokes that the follow-up to Disney's cannibalism flick Alive should be A Few Good Men. Or, indeed, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, A Farewell to Arms, Adam's Rib, My Left Foot, The Naked Lunch, Some Like It Hot. . . .