‘Forever Marilyn’ Set For Palm Springs Return

Photo by Klaus Tuehaus

In August, it was rumoured that Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, would be making a permanent return to Palm Springs. This was recently confirmed by the Desert Sun: however, plans for a temporary home at the Spa Casino as soon as November have been scrapped, and the statue will now take up residence at a new downtown park, close to the city’s art museum and due for completion sometime next year.

Fact Check: Marilyn in Palm Springs

Marilyn in Palm Springs, 1949 (Photo by Bruno Bernard)

Following the recent news that Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn‘, may soon make a permanent return to Palm Springs, another more spurious story has emerged. Last week, it was widely reported that Marilyn’s former home in Palm Springs had been burgled. However, while Marilyn visited the resort many times, there is no evidence of her ever living there. Bruce Fessier has investigated the rumour for the Desert Sun.

“Aftab Dada, a hotelier and head of the P.S. Resorts organization charged with finding ways to attract tourists to Palm Springs, says [the statue] may be placed in front of the Spa Resort Casino before hopefully landing in the downtown park being developed near Desert Fashion Plaza, where it attracted voyeurs with cameras for 22 months before going on the road again.

Dada, who also runs the Palm Springs Hilton Hotel, is now trying to raise money to ‘bring Forever Marilyn back to Palm Springs where she belongs.’ City spokeswoman Amy Blaisdell says it belongs here because ‘Marilyn Monroe has a rich history in Palm Springs.’

‘She once owned a home in the city’s Movie Colony neighborhood,’ Blaisdell said in a news release, ‘and she was first discovered by her Hollywood agent at the historic Racquet Club.’

Frankly, I don’t think she ever owned a home in Palm Springs. Blaisdell told me Marilyn and her second husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio, owned a place on Rose Avenue. That’s actually in the Las Palmas district, but, besides that, my sources say it’s not true. I asked Blaisdell where she got her information and she said Dada — the guy in charge of drawing tourists to Palm Springs.

Dada says he learned about Monroe and DiMaggio’s Palm Springs’ roots from the heads of the private equity firm KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts). Founding partners Henry Kravis and George Roberts used to stay at the Hilton …They hung out with DiMaggio and his granddaughter, Paula Hamra, in the Hilton hospitality lounge when the Yankee Clipper used to play in the Dinah, Dada said, and DiMaggio told them he and Marilyn once owned a Palm Springs home.

I looked up Hamra on Facebook. She’s one of two daughters of the late son DiMaggio had with his first wife, Dorothy Arnold, who ran Charcoal Charlie’s restaurant in Cathedral City in the late 1960s and ‘70s. She also led Cathedral City’s incorporation efforts as president of their chamber of commerce from 1973 to 1975.

Hamra didn’t respond to my Facebook message, but Dada said photographer Marc Glassman took a picture of him with the KKR boys and DiMaggio. So I called Glassman and told him I was trying to track down the mystery of whether or not Monroe and DiMaggio had ever owned a home in Palm Springs. I said Dada told me Glassman had taken a photograph of him with DiMaggio and the KKR heads at a Dinah Shore golf reception at the Hilton when DiMaggio mentioned he and Monroe had owned a  Palm Springs house. Glassman confirmed he had taken a picture of them at the Hilton.

‘Unfortunately,’ he deadpanned, ‘no one was wearing a picture on their lapel of DiMaggio and Marilyn in front of their Palm Springs home.’

So I started checking the rumors of Marilyn and DiMaggio owning a house on Rose Avenue. The Internet abounds with reports saying Marilyn lived there … Public records show the house was built in 1961 – one year before Marilyn died … and six years after she and DiMaggio divorced. The house was owned by Audrey Blanchard for more than 40 years until her death in May at age 94. On Dec. 12, 2008, her attorney, Philip S. Klatchko of the Palm Springs firm of Klatchko & Klatchko, contacted the owner of Locations Unlimited, Sylvia Schmitt, demanding she cease and desist spreading the erroneous information that Monroe once lived at Blanchard’s house.

‘In recent months, she has had numerous people come to her front door claiming that her home had been identified by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce or its representatives as having once been owned or occupied by Marilyn Monroe,’ Klatchko wrote to Schmitt (then Jenette) a day after talking to her. ‘This claim or assertion is absolutely false and the people coming to her door are an annoyance and a nuisance.’

Tour buses were regularly stopping in front of Blanchard’s home, Klatchko said, and erroneously calling it Monroe’s house. Postcard manufacturers and other businesses were doing the same.

‘After full discussions with those local business entities … they each agreed to stop their reference to Mrs. (sic) Monroe,’ Klatchko wrote. ‘The matter had been laid to rest because in fact there was no truth to the allegation. It has only been more recently that the unwanted visitors to the home have started reappearing.’

Schmitt, who books celebrity homes for movie shoots and rentals, took the reference to Monroe’s house out of her map of celebrity homes. But she probably wasn’t the source of the problem. She says she gained her information from the tour guides who trained her. She passed along one hilarious story of a man who just made up stories as he went along. But more conduits of misinformation simply convey stories that haven’t been thoroughly vetted…

Unfortunately, the city is still perpetuating these myths and now someone is paying for it. Last week, someone burglarized the Blanchard house. TMZ reported it was Monroe’s place and a local TV station repeated that error.”

Will Marilyn Return ‘Forever’ to Palm Springs?

Last seen in Bendigo Park, Australia, Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, may soon make a permanent return to Palm Springs, California, due to its immense popularity with local residents and tourists during a two-year stay from 2012-14, as Palm Springs Life reports.

“The sculpture, which is currently owned by the New Jersey-based Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc., would potentially reside in the City’s proposed new downtown park currently under construction.

P.S. Resorts is currently negotiating a title sponsorship agreement with the RumChata Foundation to cover half the cost of bringing the sculpture back to Palm Springs and working on a plan to acquire the additional funds needed for the purchase through private donations.

Marilyn Monroe has a rich history in Palm Springs. She once owned a home in the city’s Movie Colony neighborhood and she was first discovered by her Hollywood agent at the historic Racquet Club.

‘Forever Marilyn was a wildly successful tourism booster for our destination,’ according to Mary Jo Ginther, Director of the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism. ‘Marilyn has traveled to other cities, but no other city has embraced her with as much love and appreciation as Palm Springs. We are thrilled she may soon return again to forever become a part of the magic that makes our city like no place else.’

To donate, visit www.DonateForeverMarilyn.com to make a contribution.”

Fire at Racquet Club, Palm Springs

Fire engulfed parts of the historic Palm Springs Racquet Club on Wednesday, reports the Desert Sun. Opened by Charlie Farrell and Ralph Bellamy in 1934, the Racquet Club was known as a Hollywood hangout frequented by many stars including a young Marilyn Monroe, who met agent Johnny Hyde there at a New Year’s Eve party in 1949. But the former hotspot has been empty for some time, although current owner Judy Dlugacz revealed plans to create a new LGBT housing project back in 2013. At the time of the fire, there was a ‘For Sale’ sign at the site.

In the Bamboo Room with Racquet Club owner Charlie Farrell and actor William Powell, 1954

‘Forever Marilyn’ Leaves Palm Springs

Photo by Mel Melcon

Seward Johnson’s giant Forever Marilyn sculpture has left Palm Springs for the East Coast. Carol Channing, star of the original Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, made an appearance at a farewell party on Friday, which was attended by 2,000 people – with city officials promising to get her back, reports the Desert Sun.

‘Forever Marilyn’ is heading for Trenton, New Jersey, for a Johnson retrospective at the annual Grounds For Sculpture exhibition, opening on May 4 through to September 21.

Photo by Michael Snyder

 

‘Forever Marilyn’ Leaving Palm Springs

Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, will soon be heading for New Jersey – but Palm Springs residents hope her departure won’t be permanent, reports The Press Enterprise.

“‘It’s going to be a very sad day not only for Palm Springs residents but for the entire Coachella Valley,’ said Aftab Dada, general manager of the Hilton Palm Springs and chairman of P.S. Resorts, a group of hotels that brought the statue to town nearly two years ago.

‘She’s really become family,’ Dada said.

A going-away party, open to the public, is planned for March 27. Details are still being hashed out.

Dada said there is a possibility the city can bring Monroe back after redevelopment of Desert Fashion Plaza is completed. A new hotel and shops are planned on the corner where the statue now stands. He said there are no plans to install another statue in the interim.

The Forever Marilyn statue, on loan from The Sculpture Foundation, will be transported to Hamilton, N.J., where it will be part of an exhibit honoring its designer, Seward Johnson.

Dada said a big reason for the statue’s success was the location — in the heart of downtown, with the San Jacinto Mountains as a backdrop.

‘The setting we have will be impossible to duplicate,’ Dada said.”

Marilyn, JFK and The Palm Springs Story

Whenever the home of a star from Hollywood’s golden age goes on the market, it is now routine for estate agents to claim that Marilyn Monroe visited them there – often adding that she and said celebrity enjoyed a passionate affair on the grounds.

Generally, it’s false. However, there are a couple of exceptions: the most notable being Bing Crosby’s Palm Springs estate, visited by Marilyn in the spring of 1962. Among the guests was President John F. Kennedy, taking time off from the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles.

Lindsay, owner of the provocatively titled, but actually very informative IAmNotaStalker blog, has visited many Marilyn locations, and posted many great photos taken from outside Uncle Bing’s former pad just recently.

Even the most sceptical observers concede that Marilyn may have had a fling with Kennedy that weekend. Her masseur and close friend, Ralph Roberts, has said that Marilyn called him from the house in flirtatious mood, and that a ‘friend’ bearing that familiar Bostonian accent joined in the conversation.

This may even have been Marilyn’s only liaison with the president, as none of their other alleged trysts have been confirmed by such a trustworthy source.