Terry Karger is the one living person who intimately knew Marilyn Monroe and Ronald Reagan.
“Looks will get you far, but not as far as a good education.” —Marilyn Monroe to Terry Karger
Terry Karger is a child of Hollywood: the granddaughter of Metro Pictures cofounder Maxwell Karger, and the daughter of Fred Karger, a vocal coach at Columbia Pictures. Terry’s story revolves around Fred and a trio of silver-screen legends: her stepmother Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan, and, primarily, Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn, recently evolved from Norma Jeane Mortenson, was an unknown starlet when, as a twenty-one-year-old, she first met six-year-old Terry—and began dating her dad—in the spring of 1948. The orphaned, emotionally fragile actress initially babysat Fred’s daughter while turning to his family for support. Although the Marilyn-Fred romance lasted just over a year, her close friendship with the Kargers, including Fred, continued for fourteen years until the end of Marilyn's life.
While Fred was Marilyn’s first true love, his mom, Nana, was the mother she never really had. “Maril,” as they fondly called her, was allowed to relax and be herself. It also enabled Marilyn to appease her own unfulfilled maternal instincts, acting as a cross between a sweet, playful big sister and generous, caring surrogate mom to Terry.
This memoir also reveals privately taken, previously unpublished photos of the iconic superstar with her adopted family and friends.
About the Author
Terry Karger graduated from the University of Southern California in 1963, one year after Marilyn Monroe’s death. She taught at Crescent Heights Elementary and would later teach at Westwood Elementary where her students had parents such as Micky Dolenz, Millie Perkins, Ronny Cox, and Richard Pryor.
New York Times bestselling author Jay Margolis graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California and became a Jesse Unruh Research Scholar for his paper on African American Reparations. On October 15, 2014, The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. accepted Margolis’s book The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed for display at the 37th Annual Book Fair & Authors’ Night, in partnership with Politics & Prose. The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed was translated into Italian, French, and Russian and became a New York Times bestseller. Jay Margolis appeared in the 2014 United Kingdom documentary, directed by Renny Bartlett, titled The Missing Evidence: The Death of Marilyn Monroe, a Blink Films production in association with the Smithsonian Channel.
“Old Hollywood through the eyes of a child and a young woman. When your stepmom is Jane Wyman, stepbrother is the son of Ronald Reagan (who would later become President of the United States), and surrogate big sister is Marilyn Monroe, you’ve got some unique memories. Terry Karger delivers.” — New York Times bestselling author Richard Buskin
“Terry Karger has written a remarkable story of her times with two of the most iconic, larger-than-life figures of the twentieth century, Ronald Reagan and Marilyn Monroe. She knew them before the world did. Terry had a glimpse of their down-to-earth humanity. Previously unseen photographs of Marilyn Monroe with Terry’s family reveal how comfortable Marilyn was in their presence. She didn’t have to impress anyone and could just be herself. If you’re looking for the real Marilyn Monroe, you won’t find a dumb blonde here. That was a media misperception and not who she really was. In this book, Terry wipes away the dumb blonde myth and presents an intelligent woman in Marilyn Monroe, a shy lady who was remarkably eager to improve herself at every opportunity while at the same time teaching young Terry some important lessons in life during their fourteen-year friendship.” — Hermine Hilton, author of The Executive Memory Guide and memory expert for Fortune 500 Companies