It’s been more than five decades since Marilyn Monroe passed away, but she remains one of the most famous celebrities of all time. Those of us in LA can retrace Monroe’s footsteps in the city where she was born, raised and spent most of her life until her tragic death on August 5 when she was just 36 years old. From her humble beginnings at an orphanage as Norma Jean Mortenson to her rise to stardom as the immortal Marilyn Monroe, here are 10 places to experience Marilyn Monroe’s Los Angeles.
Hollygrove (formerly Los Angeles Orphan Home)
815 North El Centro Ave, Los Angeles
The orphanage where young Norma Jean lived from 1935 to 1937 is no longer a residential care facility, but the building where she spent part of her childhood remains. Her room had a window facing the water tower of RKO Studios (now Paramount Studios) where she would eventually become the star of the show.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7028 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood
Oh, if these walls could talk. One of Hollywood’s most famous landmarks, the historic Hollywood Roosevelt is where Monroe posed for her very first commercial (most people think it was for suntan lotion but it was for toothpaste) on the pool’s diving board. In the mid-50s she regularly stayed in a suite above the pool area that is now the Tropicana Bar. It’s reported that Monroe loved the hotel so much her spirit lives here to this day. Whether or not that’s true, you can at least experience her presence by booking the Marilyn Suite.
The Charlie Hotel
819 North Sweetzer Ave, West Hollywood
At one time or another, this enchanting English bungalow hideaway was the home of many famous tenants including Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe. In 2008 the property was completely restored and it’s now where you can rent the same two-bedroom cottage where Monroe lived in the 1940s.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood
One of the most iconic moments in Hollywood happened on June 26, 1953. That’s when Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell put their handprints and autographs in the cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for their movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” But what you might not know is that there’s a small plaque on the nearby fountain that quotes Monroe: “I used to go to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and try to fit my foot in a celebrity impression. It really meant to me that anything is possible … almost.” Coins collected from the fountain are donated to Hollygrove.
8447 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
This funky hangout is as popular today as it was when it first opened in 1920. Take a look at their humongous menu and not only will you find about a million different things to eat and drink, you’ll read stories of its most famous patrons, including Marilyn. She would make a point of coming here for the chili throughout the years and was here often during the filming of “Some Like It Hot.” (And apparently she did.)
Avalon Hotel (formerly Beverly Carlton Hotel)
9400 Olympic Blvd, Beverly Hills
This retro-chic boutique hotel was home to Marilyn Monroe during several periods of her life, starting in 1948 and then intermittently for about three years. During that time, the property was a residential motel that housed people in the industry including Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The hourglass-shaped pool you see today is the same one she once splashed around for photo shoots.
Beverly Hills Hotel
9641 West Sunset Blvd, Beverly Hills
Marilyn first lived at the Pink Palace in 1952 and then off and on while filming different movies until 1960. During her last stay to film “Let’s Make Love,” she and husband Arthur Miller lived in Bungalow 20 while her co-star Yves Montand and his wife stayed in the adjacent Bungalow 21. The two actors took the movie’s title quite literally and ended up carrying on an affair. The next year Monroe and Miller divorced.
Rainbow Bar and Grill (formerly Villa Nova)
9015 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood
Although the Rainbow is best known as a hangout for rock stars and their groupies (who hasn’t heard the stories of Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses?), it was originally an Italian restaurant called Villa Nova. And it is here that Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio first met on a blind date in March 1952. They sat at a booth in the back of the restaurant and enjoyed a spaghetti dinner. Although their marriage didn’t last, people wanting a little taste of romance, if not history, still request the Marilyn booth.
7156 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
Location, location, location. For all the glitz and glamour Marilyn exuded, many of the places she frequented weren’t exactly high end. Case in point: This legendary haunt that has seen just about every celebrity pass through its doors since 1925. And no, it’s not because the food is so great. It’s because of its location right next to a movie studio. It’s adjacent to a strip mall now, but back in 1958 while filming “Some Like It Hot,” Marilyn was a regular. You can still see her — along with generations of stars from Humphrey Bogart to James Dean — gracing the walls lined with photographs.
Westwood Memorial Cemetery
1218 Glendon Ave, Westwood
Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962 at the age of 36. Although her death is still a subject of controversy (was it the mob? did she really overdose? was there a political cover-up?), there is no dispute that her bronze casket is interred in wall crypt 24 at the Corridor of Memories in the northeast corner of this somewhat hidden cemetery. She was buried in a green Pucci dress with a bouquet of pink roses from her former husband Joe DiMaggio. It was a short, tumultuous and peripatetic life she led, but Marilyn Monroe created a legacy that will likely live on forever.