A Star-Studded Trail: Marilyn Monroe’s Los Angeles

In her short life of 36 years, Marilyn Monroe made a reluctant home, and left an indelible mark, in the City of Stars.  
Marilyn Monroe 1
In her short life of 36 years, Marilyn Monroe’s ascent to Hollywood was meteoric—the camera both worshipped her and whittled her down. Photo By: Album Online/indiapicture (Monroe); Noriokanisawa/iStock /Getty Images Plus/Getty Images (background)

Even though I was born there, I still can’t think of one good thing to say about it. If I close my eyes, and picture L.A., all I see is one big varicose vein,” Marilyn Monroe famously said about the City of Stars. Yet, it is in Los Angeles that the Hollywood icon lived the longest, and it is here that she is interred in the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park. She passed away in 1962, but her stardom lives on, for in the Corridor of Memories there’s never a lack of fresh flowers at crypt no. 24.

In her short life of 36 years, Monroe’s ascent to Hollywood was meteoric—the camera both worshipped her and whittled her down. Who can ever forget the scene from Seven Year Itch where Monroe, flashing her million-dollar smile, standing by a subway, is holding on to a billowing white cocktail dress? An iconic pose that catapulted her into an overnight sex symbol.

Marilyn Monroe

Stay at the Marilyn Monroe Suite at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which was also the site of her first big shoot. Photo By: DepositePhotos/Indiapicture

Marilyn Monroe 2

Grab a booth at the city’s iconic Barney’s Beanery, where Monroe once dined. Photo By: Nik Wheeler/Alamy/Indiapicture

 

Pay homage to the icon at Hollywood Boulevard. Go star-spotting at the Hollywood Walk of Fame or find her handprints outside the TCL Chinese Theatre. Gaze at her extravagant honeymoon dress or the bustier she posed in for Playboy, along with the spread, at the permanent exhibit in the Hollywood Museum. Eat Monroe’s favourite spicy beef chilli at Barney’s Beanery, an L.A. establishment that has been around since 1920, or grab a booth at Rainbow Bar & Grill. It used to be an Italian restaurant called Villa Nova during her time, and this is where Monroe met her second husband, baseballer Joe DiMaggio, on a blind date in 1952. Formosa Café, which Monroe frequented during the filming of Some Like It Hot, fashioned itself as the place “where stars dine,” and they had over 250 autographed photographs of the who’s who of Hollywood to back the claim. Currently closed for renovations, it’s slated to be back on its feet soon.

While the only house she ever bought was the one she died in, Monroe lived on and off in the city’s best hotels. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel was also the site of her first big shoot; she last stayed in the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows in 1960 during the filming of Let’s Make Love with her third, and last, husband, Arthur Miller. What the Charlie Hotel is today used to be Charlie Chaplin’s estate back in the day, and many struggling actors including Monroe have called it home at some point in their lives. All three hotels have bungalows and suites dedicated to the star, which any ardent fan can book, and make Instagram stories out of.

  • Lubna Amir is Assistant Digital Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She travels in the search for happy places (which invariably involve a beach) and good food. When she’s not planning her next escape, you can find her curled up with a book or researching recipes.

Psst. Want a weekly dose of travel inspiration in your inbox?