This past winter I was in Los Angeles on a mission (see Joining Jeopardy….), and while there I decided to see where Marilyn Monroe is buried. In Hollywood and in movies, here’s a woman who still lives on.
An admirer of Marilyn Monroe, I have watched most of her movies many times. My favorites are: Some Like It Hot, Niagara, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The graveyard is in Westwood, a bustling neighborhood dominated by the University of California Los Angeles. Looming skyscrapers surround the small cemetery and just around the corner is the multi-laned thoroughfare of Wilshire Boulevard. Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park is the resting place for many other famous stars including Natalie Wood, Roy Orbison, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Don Knotts, Peggy Lee, George C. Scott, Burt Lancaster and Truman Capote. Some of the gravestones have jokes, some have photos, and not all are Hollywood film denizens.
To get there you have to take a crucial turn into a tiny alley and we went around the block three times, all the time reading the directions over and over, until we finally found the correct turn. It’s a beautiful resting place. There are some gravestones in a grassy green area dotted with leafy trees, and numerous blocks of above-ground crypts.
Marilyn Monroe rests inside a crypt in this peaceful world. She had such a rocky existence, this shining star, a life filled with high ups and low downs.
Prior to visiting her grave I always had a sadness for her, because she passed away so early in life at the destructive hand of her own doing, such a troubled soul. But when I saw that she was finally in a peaceful place, my sadness gradually vanished. While I am quite certain that everyone in this cemetery was loved by someone, if not many, Marilyn’s grave is a monument to love.
You can see from the photo that her crypt is a different color than the surrounding ones. It is darker, mellow mauve, from all the fans who have touched it, including me. There were flowers, coins, mementos and even a boa there, and just a few feet away is a marble bench in her honor.
Later that day we went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a section of Hollywood Boulevard where more than 2,500 five-pointed stars are embedded into the sidewalk, each representing a hero in the entertainment industry. Ten million tourists a year visit here. We also went to what was once called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (now TCL) in the same vicinity. In front of the theatre are the actual foot- and handprints of famous actors.
Hollywood is a unique place on earth. That day my head was filled with Marilyn Monroe and all my Hollywood “friends.” As I absorbed all these characters, many from long ago, it occurred to me that my whole life has been filled by the personalities and talents of these people, even though there is not one who I really know. That’s the splendor that is Hollywood: the illusion.
Then a miracle happened. Well, a Hollywood miracle. We were in the crosswalk, crossing chaotic Hollywood Boulevard when I saw Marilyn Monroe coming toward me! I was so glad to see her alive! Of course in the next instant my mind corrected me, it was someone impersonating her. But for that moment she was sparkling again, in a short flouncy white dress, smiling big, and as real as can be.
I must have been staring (I know I was beaming) because just then she smiled at me, and don’t you know, she blew me a kiss!