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Welcome to the website for Tara Hanks, author of The Mmm Girl and Wicked Baby.

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Murder Orthodoxies: Sex, Lies and Marilyn

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The tragic death of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 shocked the world, and over fifty years later, the rumours are still coming. In a new book, Murder Orthodoxies: A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death, author Donald McGovern unpicks the myths and searches for the truth. You can read my review at Immortal Marilyn.

‘You May Be My Lucky Star…’

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From the age of eleven, my Saturdays would often include a trip to the record department at Boots to buy a 7-inch single. One of these was ‘Lucky Star’ by Madonna. Along with ‘Holiday’, it was one of her earliest songs played on the radio. Each weekend I stopped to gaze at her gorgeous album cover, but my savings rarely stretched to LPs. When I finally bought it, it had a different cover and my best friend (who wasn’t a fan) borrowed and never returned it.  Continue reading

Emily Brontë at 200

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'To Walk Invisible' (2016)

Last weekend, the historian and literary biographer Kathryn Hughes wrote for The Guardian about ‘The Strange Cult of Emily Brontë and the “Hot Mess” of Wuthering Heights,’ arguing that the middle Brontë sister was “no romantic child of nature but a pragmatic, self-interested Tory,” and that her only novel (which Hughes read as a teenager and struggled to finish) was a “screeching melodrama.” Published on the eve of Emily’s bicentenary, this clickbait sensation was only the latest in a long line of outraged and baffled responses to the writer and her work. Whereas her sisters Charlotte and Anne have been embraced by feminists, Emily – about whom little is known – remains something of an outcast.  Continue reading

Happy Birthday, ‘Lust for Life’

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A year after its release, here’s my in-depth review of Lana Del Rey’s Lust For Life…  Continue reading

There’s No Business Like Show Business

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On June 1st – exactly ninety-two years after Norma Jeane Mortenson was born in the charity ward of Los Angeles General Hospital – her 1954 movie, There’s No Business Like Show Business, was screened at the Duke of York’s Cinema in Brighton, and will be shown at selected Picturehouse venues throughout June. The first musical made in CinemaScope (a pioneering widescreen technology developed by Twentieth Century Fox to combat the threat of television), it was also one of the last Technicolour musicals made under the studio system model of Hollywood’s golden age.  Continue reading

Marilyn: An Unlikely Feminist

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In the wake of last fall’s revelations about sexual harassment in Hollywood, some were quick to point out that this was not a new phenomenon. Actress Joan Collins claimed that Marilyn Monroe had warned her about the ‘wolves’ who preyed on young starlets. Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, who played dual roles in a TV movie about the legendary star, revealed that they were later blackballed for resisting unwanted advances. And a producer on the 2011 biopic, My Week With Marilyn, recalled how disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein loitered on the set while Michelle Williams filmed a nude swimming scene.

Just as Monroe’s glamorous image has come to symbolise Hollywood’s golden age, she has also been linked to its darker side in a way that risks over-simplification. For not only was she one of the first to speak out about sexual abuse, she also battled for equal rights and fair pay, which women are still fighting today in Tinseltown and beyond. Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, paints a fuller picture in her new book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist. Continue reading

Reggie Lucas 1953-2018

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Reginald Grant Lucas was born in Queens, New York in 1953, the son of a doctor and a teacher. “Although no one in the family was a musician or singer,” he recalled, “music was an important and natural part of our lives.” He began taking piano lessons aged six, and was given an electric guitar for his eleventh birthday. Enthralled by the “music explosion” coming from Motown and England in the Early 1960s, it was “the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Continue reading

Urban Myths: ‘It’s Me, Sugar’

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“She was the biggest star in the world; she had a lot of attention on her, a lot of pressure… there is a scene, when she comes to the door, she says, ‘It’s me, Sugar.’ It took forty-seven shots to make this scene. The film is about that moment, the crisis she had. It’s funny because it’s stupid not to be able to say ‘It’s me, Sugar’… It’s tragic too.” Continue reading

When Avicii Met Madonna

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In March 2012, Madonna made a surprise appearance at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami alongside the twenty-three year-old Swedish DJ/producer Avicii. She had enlisted him to remix her latest single, ‘Girl Gone Wild’. “I’ve been here in spirit for many years, but it’s good to finally be standing on the stage, looking at all you people who have come here from all around the world,” Madonna told the crowd. “In my world the words ‘music’ and ‘dance’ are not separated. Electronic music has been a part of my life since the beginning of my career. I can honestly say that a DJ saved my life.” Continue reading