Goodbye, Norma Jean…
While we were in LA, we found ourselves inadvertently walking in the footsteps of one of my biggest icons, Marilyn Monroe. I mean that literally:
(I was all, “I’M Marilyn. No, I am! You be Jane Russell, mum…”)
Hollywood Boulevard was a bit of an odd experience to start with. As we pulled up, and saw hoardes of tourists all jostling to have their photos taken next to the stars on the sidewalk, I couldn’t really see the point . “Why would you want to take a photo of someone’s NAME?” I wondered aloud. “That’s just silly. I would never do that!”
So, yeah, we just totally played it cool, you know?
But I was talking about Marilyn Monroe. And on one of our first days in the city, we got to see this:
Yes, it’s THAT dress. THE white dress. The ‘Seven Year Itch’, subway grating dress. And as you can see, it’s no longer white, unfortunately, but I was still absolutely blown away to be standing in front of it.
The dress was on display at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, as part of the Debbie Reynolds auction collection, which consisted of more movie memorabilia and costumes than they could put on display. The Marilyn dress sold for $5.6 million just a few days after we saw it, and I still can’t quite get over the fact that we were able to be there. As far as I know, the dress has never been exhibited in public before, and it probably never will be again. There was a 2-week window of opportunity during which it was possible to see it, and it just so happened to coincide with the time we were in LA, which was a huge stroke of luck. I’m a huge Marilyn fan, and I couldn’t quite get over the fact that I was standing so close to THAT dress. (They had a few other dresses she’d worn too, including the red sequined one from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Wow.)
(Observation: you know how people are always banging on about how, in today’s sizing, Marilyn would be a size 14 or whatever? Folks, that dress is TINY. As in, I wear a UK 6, and I’m not sure I could have zipped it up all the way. TINY.)
Alongside it, we also saw Audrey Hepburn’s dress from My Fair Lady:
Most of the clothes weren’t behind glass, they were just out on display like this one, close enough to touch if you dared. (We didn’t. They’re worth a fortune, and there were plenty of staff circulating, politely reminding people that pawing these items could damage or destroy them. One of the members of staff, in fact, had been an extra on Lost, and that made the trip for Terry, who instantly befriended the guy and talked to him for ages.)
There was also a ton of other amazing stuff. Oh, including this:
I would totally have bid for it if the guide price hadn’t been $200 – $500.
Having thus commenced our stalking of Marilyn Monroe, we figured we may as well continue with it, because, hey, why NOT be a crazy stalker if you get the chance? Here I am standing in front of the house she was living in when she died:
And, well, here I am visiting her final resting place:
That’s actually Dean Martin’s grave I’m standing in front of in the top photo. The cemetery has its fair share of famous names, and it was a really moving experience. Apparently Joe DiMaggio had roses sent to Marilyn’s grave twice a week for years. I’ve no idea who the flowers were from when we were there, but the tomb was also covered in lipstick prints, presumably from visiting fans. Although there were a few people visiting while we were there, it was still very peaceful and quiet.
Finally, to wind up our Marilyn Monroe tour of Hollywood, here I am in Marilyn’s favourite booth at The Formosa:
We had drinks there one night with my friend Erik, who lives in LA, and while we were there we asked the waitress which booth was Marilyn’s. The restaurant was starting to empty out by the time we left, and the booth was empty, so we all popped in and took some quick photos. I’d imagine that seat has probably been re-covered since Marilyn sat in it, but still, people. STILL.
Goodbye, Norma Jean
Although I never knew you at all, I know you had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on a treadmill
And they made you change your name.
And it seems to me, you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would’ve liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did
~Elton John, Candle in the Wind