“For decades, the mild climate of the Crescenta Valley served as a haven for those seeking mental health rest and relief from lung ailments. In 1923, registered nurse Agnes Richards decided it was the perfect place to open a sanitarium, one that would set itself apart from the rest. Rockhaven Sanitarium catered to female residents only and, with few exceptions, exclusively employed women. It was a progressive treatment center that prided itself on treating residents with dignity and respect. The center’s high ideals and proximity to early Hollywood attracted residents like Billie Burke; Marilyn Monroe’s mother, Gladys; and Clark Gable’s first wife, Josephine Dillon.”
Marilyn is featured on the cover of Haunted Hollywood, a Halloween special edition from US magazine Parade. Presumably the oft-told tale of her haunting the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard will be mentioned. Contrary to rumour, she was never a permanent resident. However, Marilyn did pose for photos by the pool in 1952. Today, guests can check into the Marilyn Monroe Suite – but watch out for her ghost in the mirror!
Gary Vitacco-Robles, author of Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, has posted the first installment of an in-depth, 2-part article about Marilyn’s March 1961 holiday with ex-husband Joe DiMaggio in Florida – focusing on the complex love story behind their stay at the Tides Motel – on his Tampa Bay Author blog today.
“When DiMaggio and Marilyn reconnected during the Christmas holidays of 1960, following her separation from playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn felt validated by DiMaggio’s insightful comment that, after progressing in therapy, he realized he would have divorced a man like himself, had he been in her shoes.
DiMaggio deeply loved Marilyn, and her attraction to him remained strong. ‘Marilyn knew where she stood with him,’ publicist Lois Weber Smith said. ‘He was always there, she could call on him, lean on him, depend on him, be certain of him. It was a marvelous feeling of comfort for her.’
In late march, Marilyn and DiMaggio escaped the hectic pace of their public and professional lives and the cold of New York and together traveled to Tampa Bay’s Suncoast … The couple registered in separate guest rooms across from each other in the main building of the exclusive Tides Resort & Bath Club on the Gulf of Mexico … Eventually, the resort’s management relocated the famous couple to the rooftop for more private sunbathing … In the evenings, the couple dined intimately at the Wine House Restaurant, later the Wine Cellar, on Gulf Boulevard, located next to the Zebra Lounge.”
Hot off the press, Marilyn’s Monsters is a graphic novel by Tommy Redolfi which retells her story as a dark fairytale. Now available with a preface by cult filmmaker David Cronenberg, it was previously published in France as Marilyn in Holy Wood. You can find out more and view sample pages here.
Also just published, Samantha Barbas’ Confidential Confidentiallooks at the forces behind the notorious scandal magazine which exposed the secrets of Marilyn and other 1950s stars.
Also due in October is Rockhaven Sanitarium, a history of the pioneering women’s psychiatric clinic where Marilyn’s mother Gladys lived for almost fifteen years, authored by LA Woman Tours boss (and friend of this blog) Elisa Jordan. (You can read more about Rockhaven’s history here.)
On October 20, Craig Harvey, the recently retired Chief Coroner for Los Angeles County, will speak about Marilyn’s death and take questions from the audience, as part of a day-long ‘Through the Valley of Death‘ tour, visiting sites associated with Hollywood tragedies, and hosted by Scott Michaels (Dearly Departed Tours) and Elisa Jordan of LA Woman Tours, who commented today…
“Craig is the recently retired lead investigator for the Los Angeles County Coroners Office and the leading authority on Marilyn’s passing. Because there have been so many investigations, news stories, books and questions (from people like me!), it has been Craig’s job to consult the actual case records, both coroner and police, to answer any and all questions accurately. Because of his position in the coroners office, he is also (obviously) an expert on procedure, including procedures that were in place in 1962. Craig isn’t a Marilyn fan and doesn’t have an agenda. He just happens to be the guy who ended up with this job. This may be our only chance to ask a person of this caliber questions about Marilyn so I wanted to make sure everyone knows.
Disclaimer 1: This is part of an *all day* event that is also filled with non-Marilyn stuff. So if you want to hear Craig, you have to attend the other stuff too (but the other stuff is really fun so you’ll want to go!)
Disclaimer 2: I helped plan this event, which means there will be no disrespect of Marilyn.”
Today’s obituary page in the Daily Mail includes an interesting anecdote from Timothy Goss, son-in-law of Derek Bishop who died recently, aged 85. Apparently, Derek met Marilyn at the former Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong one freezing night, while on guard duty as part of his national service in the British Royal Air Force.
Although the story is dated as from 1952, Marilyn didn’t travel to the Far East until 1954. National service usually lasted for 1 year, sometimes more. And I haven’t heard of her visiting Hong Kong before, but it’s possible she passed through while returning to husband Joe DiMaggio in Japan after entertaining US troops in Korea.
However, as April VeVea points out over at Marilyn Remembered, “That seems really far out of the way when Hong Kong is roughly 2000 miles [from South Korea] and Kobe, Japan is 800.” So did Derek really meet Marilyn, or another blonde starlet that night?
“When his shift came to an end at 9pm, Derek and another solider were asked if they would stay on because a delayed flight was expected and there was a ‘celebrity’ on board.
They agreed and when the plane landed at 11pm, the famous passenger who stepped out was none other than the woman who would become the ultimate screen goddess.
Derek said she was dressed in ‘everyday’ clothes and wore very little make-up. She insisted on thanking him and his pal personally for working late and took them for a drink in the Nissen Hut that served as the mess.
He had half a lager and his only comment was that ‘she had no side to her.'”
Over at Japan Today, Patrick Parr looks back at the newlywed Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s eventful trip to the Far East in 1954, where he attended a baseball junket and she entertained US troops in Korea. (They’re photographed here with the manager of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, where they stayed during their visit.)
“For Monroe, this was now her life when visiting other countries. As she puts it in her abbreviated as-told-to Ben Hecht autobiography, My Story: ‘My travels have always been of the same kind. No matter where I’ve gone or why I’ve gone there, it ends up that I never see anything. Becoming a movie star is living on a merry-go-round… you don’t see natives or new scenery. You see chiefly the same press agent, the same sort of interviewers and the same picture layouts of yourself… ‘
Before heading out to support the troops in South Korea, Monroe first visited soldiers who had been fighting over in Korea and were now recuperating in Japanese hospitals. Always under heavy security detail, on Feb 11 she visited the Iwakuni City military base south of Hiroshima and then on the Feb 14 traveled to Osaka. She also visited a Tokyo medical center for wounded soldiers.
At the time, she was being treated by Tokujiro Namikoshi, the ‘founder of modern shiatsu,’ for ‘chronic endometriosis,’ a painful condition that can affect the female reproductive system. During this downtime, Monroe always had on hand her favorite perfume. According to writer Pauline Torin, back in 2009 a bottle of Monroe’s Chanel No. 5 was found sewn into a pillowcase by a housekeeper and dated ‘Feb. 5 1954.’
When Monroe returned to Japan, she came down with the flu and remained mainly in the Imperial Hotel. She and DiMaggio did eat in Ginza once, at Irene’s Hungaria Restaurant, an ‘elegant’ place to dine. One of the cooks there, Yoshimasa Saito, remembered the couple coming in for a bite in a May 2006 interview with Judit Kawaguchi for The Japan Times: ‘Mon-chan, as we called her, was more beautiful in person than on film. I only got a glimpse of her because I was busy cooking.'”
The campaign to save Rockhaven, the former sanatorium run by women for women, is continuing with the Friends of Rockhaven community group campaigning to have the building opened to the public. It is a site of architectural and historical note, and was an oasis of progressive healing for the mentally ill during a time of widespread ignorance and prejudice. Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Baker Eley, lived there for fourteen years, and it seems to have finally brought her some peace of mind after many unhappy years spent in and out of state asylums. Please sign the petition to save this Glendale landmark here.
This street art image of Marilyn was spotted by Elisa of L.A. Woman Tours along Hollywood Boulevard today. ‘It’s based off a photoshopped hybrid of Marilyn’s face and someone else’s body,’ Elisa notes, ‘but it’s cute and a nice thought. I love seeing Marilyn so many places. It’s like she’s saying hello!’
Meanwhile in Florida, the Vitale Brothers have unveiled their latest mural (based on Alfred Eisenstadt’s 1953 photo of Marilyn) at the Playhouse Theatre in St. Petersburg, a city with a historic connection to MM – she spent time there with ex-husband Joe DiMaggio in 1961.