Tag Archives: Marilyn Monroe

The Marilyn Monroe Theatre

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A few weeks ago while out driving, I pulled my car to a screeching halt when I noticed a large sign reading “The Marilyn Monroe Theatre” on the side of a building in West Hollywood.  I had never heard of a MM Theatre in Los Angeles before, so of course I just had park my car to go investigate.  🙂  It turns out that the theatre is part of the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.  For non-Marilyn fans, Lee Strasberg and his second wife Paula were MM’s beloved acting teachers and private acting coaches for the seven years leading up to her death.  While Marilyn never attended the Los Angeles branch of the Actors Studio, she did study at the New York studio beginning in March of 1955.

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By that time, Marilyn was already a huge celebrity with 26 films under her belt.  The already famous actress, who once said about acting “I am not interested in money.  I just want to be wonderful.”, enrolled in regular classes at “The Studio”, studying alongside far less successful performers than herself.  During class, due to her severe shyness and stage fright, Marilyn often sat in the very last row of seats in the very back of the room.  I find it so admirable that a star of her caliber at such a high point in her career would  be humble enough to study in a regular acting class.  You don’t see many stars of today doing that!  While at the studio, Marilyn studied alongside the likes of Eli Wallach (with whom she would later star in The Misfits), Kevin McCarthy, Maureen Stapleton, and Kim Stanley.  Of her acting Lee Strasberg said “I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of actors and actresses, and there are only two that stand out way above the rest.  Number one is Marlon Brando, and the second is Marilyn Monroe.”  It is so sad to me that while outsiders could see and appreciate Marilyn’s immense talent, she was never able to recognize it in herself. 

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When Marilyn passed away in 1962, she willed the bulk of her estate to her beloved acting coach and his wife.  Paula Strasberg died only four years later and a short year after that Lee Strasberg met and married a woman named Anna.  The two remained married until Lee’s death in 1982, upon which Anna inherited Marilyn’s vast fortune and control of her image.  In an ironic twist of fate, because Lee didn’t meet Anna until 1967, some five years after Marilyn’s death, the image and estate of one of the most famous stars in Hollywood history is controlled by a woman she never even met.

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In 1969, as a present to her husband, Anna purchased the property where the Marilyn Monroe Theatre and the Los Angeles branch of The Actors Studio now stands.  In the theatre’s early years, Lee’s acting classes were held there.  As time went on, though, the theatre became one of the most prestigious stage venues in Los Angeles.   And while Marilyn never set foot inside of the theatre that now bears her name, over the years it has  premiered many revered plays and has also played host to many famous actors and actresses including Sally Kirkland, Rebecca DeMornay, Joe Mantegna, Amy Madigan, Andrew Prine, Renee Taylor, Joseph Bologna, Burt Young, Kim Cattral, and Boy Meet’s World’s  Ben Savage.   Movie screenings are also often held at the theatre.   Actors who have participated in screenings at the MM Theatre include Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, John Voight, Bridget Fonda, Claire Danes, Martin Landau, Lesley Ann Warren, and Robert Wagner. 

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Of course, I highly recommend stalking the Marilyn Monroe Theatre.  Any fan of MM will definitely appreciate being there.  🙂  On a side note while researching the theatre, I happened upon a link with an address to a Marilyn Monroe Memorial Theatre located in San Francisco.  I am DEFINITELY going to have to stalk that the next time I am up there!!

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

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Stalk It: The Marilyn Monroe Theatre is located 7936 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.  San Francisco’s Marilyn Monroe Memorial Theatre is located at 96 Lafayette Street.  The Actors Studio in New York where Marilyn once studied is located at 432 West 44th Street.

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The Seven Year Itch Apartment

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In Vanity Fair’s  October 2008 cover story, photographer Mark Anderson asks “Who ever forgets the first time they saw Marilyn Monroe?”  Such a great quote!  I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw Miss Monroe –  sitting in my apartment watching The Seven Year Itch  just a few short months ago.  As soon as I watched the scene where Marilyn leans out the window of her New York City summer sublet, hairdryer in hand, and exclaims “I just washed my hair!”, that was it for me!  I was a goner!  🙂  So this past week, while in New York, I just had to stalk the apartment building where that scene was filmed. 

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Needless to say the apartment building featured in The Seven Year Itch  looks extremely different today than it did back in 1955 when filming took place.  But thankfully it is still, for the most part, recognizable as the residence where Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe spent one hot summer in Manhattan.  In The Seven Year Itch, MM’s character, “The Girl”, moves into a non-air-conditioned apartment for the summer.  That apartment just happens to be located directly above married man Tom Ewell, whose wife and son are spending their summer in the country.  “The Girl” befriends Tom and spends many an evening in his apartment, which is equipped with an “air conditioner in every room!”  Hilarity ensues, of course, as Tom tries, very unsuccessfully I might add, to avoid falling under Marilyn’s spell. 

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The apartment building is featured several times in the film. It’s most notable appearance is at the very end of the movie when Tom realizes how very much he loves his wife and spontaneously decides to spend the rest of the summer with her in the country, leaving his air-conditioned pad to MM.  How cute is that!  Anyway, in the pandemonium, Tom runs out his front door, barefooted, and heads towards the train station.  The ending shot of the movie is of Marilyn leaning out of Tom’s first floor window as she tosses him the forgotten loafers.   🙂

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I was SUPER excited to stalk this location!  The Seven Year Itch  building was pretty much the top “must-see” locale of my New York vacation.  It was amazing to realize that movie magic been made at this very spot a little over fifty years ago.  And that Marilyn Monroe herself had once leaned out the window of the small, non-descript building I was now staring at.

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For those of you in the market for a New York apartment, The Seven Year Itch  building currently has a vacancy.  🙂  Let’s hope the apartment for rent has air conditioning!  🙂 

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Seven Year Itch apartment is located at 164 East 61th Street in New York.

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Halloween 2008

For Halloween this year, I desperately wanted my boyfriend and I to dress up like Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.  I know, total shocker.  🙂  It all ended up coming together quite perfectly, too, as earlier this summer I found a white dress a la Marilyn’s subway grate ensemble, that was super inexpensive.  I also happened to have an appointment to get my hair cut on Halloween morning, so I asked my amazing hair stylist, Martina, if she could do me up Marilyn style.  She happily obliged and even offered to do my make-up for me.  Without even looking at a picture of the starlet for reference, she was able to whip my hair into a full-on Marilyn ‘do and apply my make-up perfectly!  I was shocked!  When I asked her how she did it without using a photo, she said “Honey, that’s what I do!”  LOL  I actually think the effect may have been too good, though, because I had FIVE people stop me and say “Has anyone ever told you that you look EXACTLY like Marilyn Monroe.”  Even though it was Halloween, no one seemed to realize I was wearing a costume – they thought I just looked like Marilyn naturally.  LOL  That actually might be good news, though – as maybe someday I’ll get to play MM in a big screen biopic of the star.  🙂  

Anyway, since we couldn’t find anything to do in L.A. for Halloween (we were literally all dressed up with no place to go!), I dragged my boyfriend to Downtown Palm Springs.  We spent the evening walking around Downtown, barhopping, hanging out, and watching all the other people in costumes.  We had a blast!  And I even got stopped by a Japanese tourist who wanted her photo taken with me.  🙂 

We ended up spending most of our evening at the Palm Springs Riviera Resort & Spa – a legendary Palm Springs hot spot from back in the 50s and 60s.  The resort recently underwent a complete rennovation and has been closed down for the past year.  It only just reopened two weeks ago and it is a very cool, very hip spot to hang out.  The hotel has a 50s-modern style vibe to it, made complete with a large picture of Marilyn made out of Guatemalan coins hanging in the lobby, so, of course, I had to snap a photo of it. 🙂   And the Riviera is even a filming location!   It was featured as the hotel where Connie Stevens stayed in the 1963 flick Palm Springs Weekend.

 

The poolside Bikini Bar, where we hung out all night, is fabulous with its large firepits and ultra-comfy lounge chairs.   While there we ran into 90s actor Jeff Prettyman, who is currently retired and living in Palm Springs.  Jeff acted in the movies Young Guns  and Cheerleader Camp, so of course I had to take a pic with him.  🙂

The following morning, I was reading a Palm Springs magazine in our hotel room and I happened to spot a photograph of Marilyn Monroe posing at the Racquet Club of Palm Springs (pictured above), a place I had never heard of.  So, of course, on our way out of town I had to drag my boyfriend to stalk it.

 But unfortunately, when we arrived there wasn’t much to see as the area is currently a large constuction zone.  The once legendary resort and Hollywood playground is currently closed and undergoing a $50 million rennovation with the surrounding land being turned into luxury condominiums and lofts.  That was the plan, anyway.  In 2004, architect Van Scott Jones and financial handler Michael Mueller purchased the land with big plans to restore the resort to its former grandeur.  However, just a few days ago the property went into forclosure and the fate of the Racquet Club is now left up in the air.  I truly hope someone comes in to rescue this piece of Hollywood and Palm Springs history.  Oddly enough, for some reason the construction area was not entirely fenced in, and since there weren’t any “no trespassing” signs posted, my boyfriend and I ventured in for a little looksie. 

It was very, very cool to be walking around a piece of property that holds so much history.  While there, I could just imagine the screen legends of the day lounging poolside under the desert sun.  You can see the now empty pool behind me in the above photograph.     

The Palm Springs Racquet Club was opened up on Christmas Day of 1933 by actors Ralph Bellamy and Charlie Farrell, who wanted a place in the desert where they could play tennis.  The resort became enormously popular with the celebs of the day – a playground to the stars, compete with tennis courts, a large swimming pool and a legendary bar named the Bamboo Lounge.  The bloody mary cocktail was actually first concocted in that lounge.  Apparently, Racquet Club guests needed a little “hair of the dog” each morning to cure their budding hangovers, so the Lounge chefs mixed together a few ingredients and, voila, the bloody mary was born.  The owners of a New York bar named the 21 Club often stayed at the Racquet Club and fell in love with the new cocktail.  They ended up bringing the drink back to their New York bar and the rest, as they say, is history.  The Racquet Club didn’t fare quite as well as the cocktail created there, though, and due to dwindling profits, it was sold several times and quickly fell into dilapidation and disarray.  

Among the stars who hung out at the Racquet Club in its heyday – Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Jane Russell, Bob Hope, Jayne Mansfield, Gregory Peck, Errol Flynn, John Kennedy, Bing Crosby, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Ronald Regan, and, of course, my girl Marilyn Monroe, who spent New Years of 1948 there with her agent Johnny Hyde (pictured above).  Rumor has it that Marilyn was actually discovered by photographer Bruno Bernard while lounging poolside at the Club, but I am not sure how true that story is. 

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Raquet Club of Palm Springs is located at 2743 North Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.  The Palm Springs Riviera Resort & Spa is located at 1600 North Indian Canyon Drive, also in Palm Springs.  If you need your hair styled like Marilyn – or if you just need a new ‘do in general – you can visit Martina Maina at T-Birds Salon, located at 1808 West Olive Avenue in Burbank.  You can visit T-Birds website here.  T-Birds is located right across the street from an oft used filming location – the Safari Inn – which was featured in True Romance  and Apollo 13 .

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The Sunset Tower Hotel

One of my favorite places to visit in all of LA is the Sunset Tower Hotel, located on the legendary Sunset Strip in Hollywood.  The Sunset Tower Hotel was built in 1931 by architect Leland A. Bryant for owner E.M. Fleming.  The Art Deco building, which originally functioned as an upscale apartment house, was the very first earthquake proof property to be built in Los Angeles.   While the hotel enjoyed some glory years during the hey dey of Hollywood, in the 1980s it fell into serious disrepair and was saved from demolition when it was purchased by London’s St. James Hotel chain.  Peter de Savary, owner of the St. James chain, poured $46 million into restoring the Sunset Tower and renamed it the St. James Club.  Since that time, the hotel has undergone several more renovations and name changes, until 2005 when it was purchased by New Yorker Jeff Klein, who restored the hotel to its original name and former grandeur.

During the hotel’s glory years numerous celebs called the Sunset Tower home, including Howard Hughes, Ava Gardner, Truman Capote, John Wayne, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Billie Burke aka Glinda the Good Witch, Mae West, Elizabeth Taylor, Conrad Hilton, gangster Bugsy Siegel – who was eventually evicted for running a gambling center out of his room, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Tim Curry, my fave Marilyn Monroe, and Iggy Pop, who made a habit of jumping into the hotel pool from his apartment window.  Today, the Tower is still popular with celebs.  The hotel’s restaurant, the Tower Bar, is a favorite of Jen Aniston, who dines there regularly.  Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Posh Spice, Brian Grazer and Barbara Walters have also all been spotted at the Tower Bar grabbing a bite to eat.  According to Wikipedia, during her pink-wig-wearing days, Britney Spears tried to book some rooms at the Tower.  Hotel owner Jeff Klein reportedly said to the hotel manager “If that piece of trailer trash so much as enters my driveway, you are fired!  She can’t come here with all my chic guests, she’ll ruin the place!”  LOL  Love it!  It  was during that same time period that the Bel Air Hotel also reportedly refused to rent rooms to BritBrit. 

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The hotel’s poolside Terrace Bar, my fave place to grab a drink in all of LA, is also quite popular with the celebs.  The first time I visited the Terrace, Kate Bosworth was there with her model boyfriend James Rousseau. I just had to go up to her, too, to tell her how much I loved Win A Date With Tad Hamilton.    She ended up signing an autograph for me and seemed genuinely thrilled that I had such good things to say about Win A Date.  Kate truly could not have been nicer and I can honestly say she was hands down the kindest out of all the celebs I have ever met.  And her boyfriend was a total cutie, too!!!! 🙂  I took the above pic of her with my blackberry, but it didn’t come out very well.  LOL

The legendary hotel has also been featured in countless television and movie productions, including The Player, Spinal Tap Goes to 20, Shadow Hours, Freaky Friday, Murder My Sweet, Get Shorty, Wayne’s World II , Strange Days, The Italian Job,  and  Rich Girls.  In The O.C., the hotel stood in for Newport Beach’s Four Seasons Hotel which was owned by Ryan’s rival, Oliver, on the show.  Only the exterior of the Tower Hotel was shown in The O.C.  For the interior shots of the lobby and Oliver’s penthouse suite, a different hotel was used – one which I am still trying to locate.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Sunset Tower Hotel is located at 8358 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  I highly recommend stalking the Sunset Tower – the poolside Terrace Bar is a great place to grab a drink while enjoying one of the best views in all of LA. 

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Marilyn’s First, and Last, Home

Just finished another excellent book about the life and times of Miss Marilyn Monroe.  The book, Goddess, was recommended to me by a staff member at Vroman’s – even though it is currently out of print – who said it was the definitive biography about the star.  See why I love that bookstore?!?  🙂

Anyway, reading the book reminded me that a couple of years back, on our annual Haunted Hollywood tour, my boyfriend and I did a little stalking of the house where Marilyn Monroe took her final breath.  This was actually the first, and last, home Miss Monroe every owned.  She purchased the house in 1961, but didn’t officially move in until March of 1962, just six months before her death. 

While shopping for homes in 1961, Marilyn decided she wanted a place close in both proximity and looks to her therapist, Dr. Ralph Greenson’s, home.  The Spanish style home on Fifth Helena Drive fit the bill, as it looked very similar to Dr. Greenson’s home and was located only a few short miles away.  According to Goddess, Marilyn actually cried while signing the final papers as she said she never imagined she would be purchasing a home alone.  Ironically, after moving in to the home, Marilyn had a plaque placed above her door which read “Cursom Perificio”.  Translation – “My Journey Ends Here”.   How right she was.

Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot to see of the home from the street as there is a huge wall surrounding it.  But it was still very cool to visit, and I highly recommend stalking it if you are at all Marilyn fan.  According to Goddess, Marilyn absolutely loved her little Spanish bungalow and was personally handpicking all of the furnishings before her death.  She even made a trip to Mexico shortly before her death to pick up some decorations for the home.  (In the above photo a large green home is visible above Marilyn’s gate – that is a neighbor’s house, not hers.) 

Remember to be courteous when stalking and not to disturb the home’s current residents.  From what I have read they do not take kindly to tourists taking pictures in front of their house.  Which begs the question – Then WHY in the heck did they buy one of the world’s most famous houses?? LOL

You can read a brief history of Marilyn’s home here.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Marilyn’s final home is located at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood.  The house can be difficult to find as there are many streets in the area with the name “Helena”.   Take South Carmelina Avenue past  First, Second, Third and Fourth Helena Drive and then you will see Fifth Helena, where Marilyn’s home is located.

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Marilyn’s Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

 I know I have blogged about the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel quite a few times in the past, but what can I say?  Every time I go there I discover something new!  A few weeks ago while doing some Hollywood stalking with my mom, we took a little lunch break at the Tropicana Bar next to the Roosevelt Hotel’s pool.  While we were there I happened to ask the pool security guard if he knew where Marilyn Monroe’s former room was located.  Not only did he know where it was, but it turns out we were sitting directly beneath it!  🙂

For about two years, shortly before she became the world’s most famous starlet, Marilyn lived in a poolside suite at the Roosevelt.  At the time MM was fresh from her first divorce and her modeling career was just taking off.  According to the security guard, Marilyn’s room is one of the largest rooms in the entire hotel, with a huge wraparound balcony overlooking the pool.  A mirror that hung in Marilyn’s room during the time she called the Roosevelt home now hangs in a mezzanine hallway just off the hotel lobby.  Marilyn must have truly loved the Roosevelt, as she doesn’t seem to want to leave.  Rumors persist that the hotel is still haunted by her ghost to this day. 

As I have said many times before, the Roosevelt is one of my very favorite places in all of LA.  I highly recommend stalking it if you have the chance.  You can even spend the night in the Marilyn Monroe suite, which is apparently the hotel’s most requested room.  🙂  Looks like I need to plan a little overnight stalking trip!!  🙂 The Tropicana Bar is a fabulous place to grab a drink and a bite to eat – they have GREAT food and the staff could not be friendlier!!  But be prepared, the menu is pricey.  It is worth every penny, though, as it is one of the hippest spots in LA and is pretty much celeb central.  The poolside bar is one of Lauren Conrad’s favorite places to hang out and it has even shown up in a few episodes of The Hills.  🙂

In other Marilyn news, I just finished an absolutely fascinating book about Marilyn’s life called The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe.  If you are at all an MM fan, I highly recommend reading. 

You can read my other posts about the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel here and here

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in downtown Hollywood.  Marilyn’s room is located directly above the Tropicana, the Roosevelt’s poolside bar.

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The Great Quake of ’08!

Yesterday morning at around 11:42am a fairly large earthquake hit the LA area.  I received a text message from a friend, who forgot that I am currently on vacation in Hawaii, asking if I felt the quake.  My first thought was ” OMG!  My Marilyn Merlot bottle!”  LOL The bottle of Marilyn wine that my dad gave me a few weeks back is on display on the top shelf of the baker’s rack in my kitchen (not a smart place to put it being that I live in California!) and I was super worried that the bottle did not survive the big quake.  😦  One of our good friends rushed right over to our place to check on Marilyn and I am happy to report that she remained intact during the earthquake!!!  Our friend said she was literally teetering on the shelf in my kitchen and one more aftershock would have done her in, so thank goodness she was rescued in time.  🙂  That Marilyn – she takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’!   

In other Marilyn news, while walking around Downtown Kona the other morning, we stumbled upon Hula Bean Coffee Shop.  I was immediately drawn to the place – not only because I am addicted to coffee, but because the logo on the sign out front was somewhat familiar.  At first I couldn’t place the image, but then I realized, the logo is almost exactly like one of the famous nude photographs of Marilyn that were taken by photographer Tom Kelley in 1949.   

 I, of course, had to go inside to sample some of the Hula Bean Coffee and to ask the owner about their logo.  He said the logo was actually based on the pin-up girls from the World War II era.  To me, though, it looks like an exact replication of Marilyn’s pose.  There are many conflicting stories of how the Marilyn Monroe nude photographs came to be, but what I was able to discern from the various different accounts is that in 1949 Marilyn was down and out on her luck and her money.  An already established model with the Blue Book Modeling Agency, Marilyn was scheduled to pose for some calendar photographs with photographer Tom Kelley.  He offered her $50 to pose nude during the session, and the broke starlet, whose car had actually just been impounded, agreed.  The pictures sat in a drawer for a few years until they were released in 1952, causing quite a scandal as by that time Marilyn was a bonafide moviestar.  Marilyn, who always loved any sort of media attention, immediately fessed up to posing for the photographs and when a reporter asked if she had anything on during the shoot, she replied “The radio, of course.”  🙂 

                                                        Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Hula Bean Coffee is located at 75-5719 Alii Drive in Kona, Hawaii.  I highly recommend stalking it as it serves up some great coffee.  I am a Starbucks girl myself and can rarely find a coffee house that compares, but Hula Bean was really good! 

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