Remembering Marilyn in Salinas

Today’s UK Express features rare and lovely photos of Marilyn during one of her earliest public appearances in Salinas, California. Although the article dates the trip to 1947, it actually occurred in February 1948. You can read more about her Salinas adventures here.

“The opportunity arose when jeweller Stanley Seedman decided he wanted to promote his store in Salinas, California. Having been a part time movie star promoter Stanley decided to take advantage of the connection during a jewellery sale.

The diamond salesman chose a young starlet named Doreen Nash, but she cancelled at the last minute, so an up-and-coming blonde called Marilyn Monroe got the job instead.

Marilyn spent a week in the Monterey Bay Area, modelling jewellery at Carlyle’s and signing autographs.

During that time, she met representatives from CalChoke (The California Artichoke Association) who presented her with a sash.

The photographs of Marilyn wearing the sash and holding artichokes were used in advertisements and passed throughout the produce industry.”

‘A Salinas Star For Marilyn?’

Writing from Salinas, California (birthplace of author John Steinbeck) for the Toronto Star, Petti Fong reported an unusual Marilyn sighting:

“The first sign this region is still all about agriculture is the life-size mural of Marilyn Monroe just a few steps into the National Steinbeck Centre — she holds up artichokes as provocatively as if she were offering up herself. When she was still just plain Norma Jean Baker, Marilyn Monroe was crowned Miss California Artichoke Queen…”

Although the article dates the event back to 1947, it actually occurred on February 20, 1948. Marilyn was also crowned ‘Diamond Queen’ during an appearance at Carlyle’s Jewellers on Main St.  You can read about it here.

Writing for The Salinas Californian on March 9, Dave Nordstrand suggested a possible third sighting, and an intriguing proposal:

“Later in life, when she’d become a movie star, rumor was that she and husband Joe DiMaggio stopped for the night while passing through Salinas.

They checked into what once was the Santa Lucia Inn on North Main Street, a place with cognac, Peking duck and other fine items on the menu.

Peking duck or not, Monroe has proven ties to Salinas.

Maybe we ought to put a star on the sidewalk in front of 362 Main St. as a reminder of her visit.”

Marilyn in Salinas, 1948

A newspaper clipping from an appearance by Marilyn at Carlyle’s Jeweler’s in Salinas, California, in 1948 (during her trip she was also crowned ‘Artichoke Queen’  in nearby Castroville.)

“In 1948, she came here to help promote a diamond sale at Carlyle’s Jewelers, 362 Main St. The store had hired a starlet named Noreen Nash, but Nash had to cancel.

So Monroe filled in.

On that trip, she checked into a room at the Jeffrey Hotel in the 200 block of Main Street.

Before her abrupt arrival, she’d been baking in the sun in Palm Springs. Her nose had burned. It had begun to peel. Still, Marilyn showed up. She stood behind the counter at Carlyle’s.

Patrons squeezed in. Marilyn flashed her brilliant smile. She chatted in an amiable way and autographed pictures of herself.

That day, the jewelry store sold lots of diamonds.”

The Californian

Last year’s collection of Marilyn’s writings, Fragments, includes a diary entry recording a bus journey to Salinas (though not necessarily at the same time.)