On August 5, 1962, newspapers around the world relayed the news of the death of Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) the night before at her home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, California at the age of thirty-six. The cause of death was listed as suicide from an overdose of the drugs Pentobarbital and chloral hydrate. However, decades after her death, several question still remain regarding that tragic night of August 4, 1962. What really happened that night and why was she paid a visit by then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) and his brother-in-law Peter Lawford (1923-1984)?
The image we have been given of Monroe is a drug-addicted sex symbol, starved for validation from the opposite sex and unable to cope with the rigors of Hollywood. Her previous suicide attempts gave credence to this perpetuated image and for many, it was the ending that they expected for quite some time. Her life reads like a tragic novel of a heroine unable to fully come to terms with herself and seeking love and affection in all of the wrong places. However in just thirty-six years, she lived a live that some can only dream of. At at one point in her life, she was the most desired woman in the world. Donald H. Wolfe takes us back in time to the those final days in August, 1962 to piece together what really did happen and why.
The book opens by revisiting the night of August 4 and the pandemonium that ensued following Monroe’s death. Immediately we learn of several disturbing facts that set the tone of the book. Wolfe does an incredible job of keeping the suspense going and the reader engaged. And rightfully so, he not only explores her death but also provides a concise biography that sets the stage for events that took place later in her life. Behind the facade of a starlet singing happy birthday to the President, lay a woman raised in a childhood which could best be described as tragic. However, in order to understand Monroe’s life and her death, it is necessary to explore her beginnings which Wolfe presents to us without breaking the momentum of the book. And I can assure you that once you start you will be hard pressed to put it down.
Although the book is about Monroe’s final days, there are many sub-stories that are told which gives us an inside view of the inner-workings of Hollywood and politics in the middle of the twentieth century. As she moves through one circle to the next, some of the biggest names in show business, sports and politics make an appearance in her life such as John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), Clark Gable (1901-1960), J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) and Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999). However, among all of the people who cross paths with her, her life takes a much darker and tragic turn through her association with the Kennedys and their associates and it is this relationship that forms the crux the remaining third of the book. After you have finished the book, you may come to see the administration in a different light. Today it is public knowledge that an affair did take place between Jack Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. And if all accounts are correct, Monroe and Robert Kennedy also had their intimate moments. The sexual content is fodder for gossips and tabloid magazines. But what was critical was the true nature of their relationship and the many secrets Monroe possessed about the most powerful man in the country. In fact, it is quite possible that she did have the power to bring down a presidency. Was this the reason for the urgent visits by J. Edgar Hoover to the White House in May, 1962 and that last visit by Robert Kennedy on the day she died? Or was this the reason for the heated arguments that took place between Monroe and Robert Kennedy in the weeks leading up to her death? And how much did she know about their association with Frank Sinatra and mobster Sam Giancana? Certainly, many of their discussions which were likely picked up by the FBI may never be known. Other recordings by the President are locked away in the Kennedy library. A little over one year after Monroe’s death, John Kennedy himself was cut down in a hail of bullets in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Several years later, Bobby would be gone as well, also the victim of an assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968. In death they joined a long list of political figures and stars that died during the turbulent decade of the 1960s.
Marilyn Monroe remains a sex icon decades after her death. Young women still hang posters of her on their walls and purchase t-shirts with her image. In death, she became a legend whose left this world far too soon. Her life was in some ways a soap opera with affairs, fairy tale romances, political scandals, drugs, mental health issues and tragically, broken homes. Sadly, many people in her life failed her not just on one but on several occasions. But if there is one inspiring aspect of the story, it is her resiliency to move forward in life and command respect even in the most difficult of times. And had her life taken a slightly different course, then perhaps she might still be alive today well into her senior years and full of knowledge about Hollywood’s golden era. This is the story of the life and final days of Marilyn Monroe, a true Hollywood icon.
Double Cross: The Explosive Inside Story of the Mobster Who Controlled America-Sam Giancana,Chuck Giancana and Bettina Giancana
June 19, 1975-Former boss of the Chicago mafia, Sam “Mooney” Giancana is shot and killed in the basement kitchen of his home in Oak Park, IL. Giancana had been extradited from Cuernavaca, Mexico and was scheduled to give testimony to the newly formed Church Committee. Some have speculated that his murder was to silence the old mafioso in the fear that he might reveal an unknown number of secrets about the American mafia and its relationship with the Unites Government. His death shocks the nation and raises many more questions about the events in Cuba, Chicago and Dallas, Texas. For several decades, he ruled Chicago with an iron fist and was privy to nearly every major event to occur in the Windy City.
‘Double Cross’ is the inside story of Giancana’s life by his younger brother, the late Chuck Giancana, Sam’s nephew also named Sam and Bettina Giancana, a published author and recognized expert in the field of organized crime. The book is written like a novel but it is far from fiction and this story of the mobster who controlled America is one of the most revealing books I have ever read and helps to reader to understand just how powerful the mafia had become in the United States. Years before the RICO act was designed and used by prosecutors to break the backbone of organized crime, the mafia controlled nearly every aspect of American society. And among these power players was none other than Sam Giancana, whose reach stretched from all corners of the country, countries abroad and even to the oval office. The son of Italian immigrants learned the tricks of the trade through the hard knocks of life on the gritty streets of Chicago which at the time, was the city known to be a haven for organized crime featuring such characters as Hymie Weiss, Al Capone, George “Bugs” Moran and Dion O’Banion to name a few. And his stint in Joliet prison served to toughen his character making a more hardened and remorseless gangster. His brother Chuck, at his brother’s side for most of their lives, recalls their discussion about the events of the day and the secret world of the Syndicate. And as we listen to Chuck while he tells us what he remembers, we begin to see a very dark portrait of a dangerous, power-hungry, merciless and intelligent person fully entrenched in the underworld where he would remain for the rest of his life.
When John F. Kennedy’s election campaign began to pick up steam, it became evident that some states would need more attention than others. An Irish-Catholic had never been elected President and many of the toughest states were Protestant strongholds. One more than one occasion, it has been alleged that Joe Kennedy bought the election for his son. We do know that Richard Nixon’s campaign wanted a recount, but their efforts were nipped in the bud by officials in Illinois. If Chuck’s words ring true and other sources are to be believed, then this book’s revelations about more campaign secrets will serve to undercut all that we thought we knew about past elections. Those familiar with the Kenned family and the history of Joe Kennedy’s wealthy empire will be fully aware of the bootlegging of illegal liquor that helped him amass such a staggering fortune. But what is often unknown, are the deep connections to the Chicago mob all leading directly to Giancana.
After Kennedy took office and made his younger brother Robert Attorney General, a war was unleashed on the American mafia. It was a war that Giancana called nothing short of a double cross and the number of victims would be staggering and include the late Marilyn Monroe. The truth about Dallas is still completely unknown but after reading this book, you might find yourself with more answers than questions and view the crime in a completely different light.