The Brentwood, LA home that once belonged to Marilyn Monroe is back on the market. The actress purchased the four bedroom, three bathroom house in 1962, following her divorce from Arthur Miller. She had only lived in the house for a few months before she was found dead in her bedroom, as a result of an apparent drug overdose.
Despite previous owners putting their own touches to the house, listing agent Lisa Optican told Vanity Fair that the original “feeling and aesthetic and vibe” of Monroe’s house remains.
“It is really warm, romantic, intimate. The same courtyard, entry, and backyard with the pool and the expansive grassy yard and garden are all there. You feel it and get why she was attracted to it — she wanted a home rather than just a big house in Beverly Hills.”
The 2,624 square-foot property, listed for $6.9 million, was the first home Monroe had ever owned alone. In 1962, the actress allowed a Life Magazine reporter to photograph her outside the house, though she insisted on keeping the inside private.
“I don’t want everybody to see exactly where I live, what my sofa or my fireplace looks like,” Monroe said. “Do you know the book Everyman? Well, I want to stay just in the fantasy of Everyman.”
At the Jewish Museum’s “Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz & Marilyn” exhibit September 24 pre-opening reception a woman looking at Monroe’s conversion document exclaimed: “I knew Elizabeth converted but I didn’t know Marilyn Monroe did too!”
For Taylor and Monroe fans this show is a nostalgic treat. Struck by a huge display of 40 movie magazine covers from the late 1940’s through ‘60’s of the two screen goddesses, it reminded me of my teenage correspondence with Taylor in 1945 after being rejected as a hopeful for MGM’s “National Velvet” casting search which called for someone who could ride a horse and spoke British accented English [I did neither]. When Taylor landed the role, I sent her a congratulatory note and received a hand-written reply from her accompanied by an autographed photo.
I finally met Taylor in 1981 when she was honored with Emunah Women of America’s “Freedom Award” at an SRO event at Manhattan’s Milford Plaza Hotel. It was noted that following her conversion and becoming a “Jewish daughter” in 1960 she had purchased $100,000 worth of Israel Bonds.
Arriving through the kitchen doors surrounded by a phalanx of body-builder bodyguards, Taylor made her entrance in a flowing red chiffon gown, bouffant hairdo, double string of pearls and blinding diamond earrings. At her side, her then husband Senator John Warner and Maureen Stapleton, her co-star in the Broadway production of “The Little Foxes.” In their rush to “touch” her, one woman was pushed against a buffet table, tripped and her sheitl (wig) fell into a bowl of coleslaw.
In her inimitable whispery voice Taylor spoke of “My love for Israel… my love for children… our children are our future, our tomorrows.” Accepting the plaque from then Emunah National president Shirley Billet, Taylor concluded in Hebrew with “Hazak ve ematz”.
In 1991, C. David Heymann, author of biographies of Jackie Onassis [“A Woman Named Jackie”] and Barbara Hutton [“Poor Little Rich Girl”] was then working on a Taylor biography and told me that in January 1983, Elizabeth took a trip to Israel from her villa in Gstaadt, Switzerland seeing herself “as some kind of peacemaker between Lebanon and Israel.” On the way to Ariel Sharon’s house in the desert, her Mercedes limousine crashed into another car. “Many were seriously hurt,” said Heymann, “but Elizabeth got the press coverage. She was taken to Hadassah Hospital, treated for whiplash, a broken finger and strained ligament… She met with Menachem Begin who was surprised that despite her injuries she would travel to see him. According to those present the two chatted and Mr. Begin later remarked that it was ‘a much more rewarding meeting than with others who only gave him lip service’.”
As for Marilyn Monroe — I met her briefly at a photographers’ reception in 1953 when I worked at the American Society of Magazine Photographers. In the January 1953 edition of the ASMP’s publication “Infinity”, photographer Ben Ross described his first encounter with Monroe in a piece titled “My Date with Marilyn.” He wrote: “I was lying down on Monroe’s bed nursing the remaining half of my head when the little girl with the big blue eyes walked in. As I weakly attempted to rise, Marilyn assured me it was all right to stay there… being a gentleman of the old school I courteously exited.”
While retyping Ross’s piece, I inadvertently transformed exited into excited! Corrected before publication, Ben later told me my malapropism was a more accurate description of his then reaction to Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe has been dead 50 years, but she continues to fascinate.
Classified files released by the FBI in response to a request by the Associated Press reveal claims that the actress’s Jewish marriage ceremony was “a cover up.”
Monroe married Jewish playwright Arthur Miller in June 1956, but a redacted FBI document quotes an anonymous source that informed the New York Daily News that their religious ceremony was a “cover up”—presumably for Monroe and Miller’s alleged Communist activities. Miller “was still a member of the CP (communist party) and was their cultural front man,” the source was quoted as saying. The source also alleges that Monroe was drifting into the Communist Party orbit, and her production company was filled with Communists and funneling money to the party.
Parts of the FBI’s files on Monroe, dating back to 1955 and continuing on through investigations of her 1962 suicide, can be seen on the FBI’s The Vault website, which posts the agency’s records on celebrities, government officials, spies and criminals.
The fascination with the 20th century’s unsurpassed brain, Albert Einstein, and starriest sex goddess, Marilyn Monroe, inspired Nicolas Roeg’s 1985 film “Insignificance” and a 2005 optical illusion made at MIT still available on the internet, in which an image of Einstein turns into Marilyn if you back away from the computer screen. Although they never in fact met, let alone melded, what would happen if they did is the basis for a novel, “Albert & Marilyn,” out in February from Les éditions Le Pommier.
Written by the French journalist and author of Polish Jewish origin, Jean-Jacques Greif, “Albert & Marilyn” shows the two as chatterboxes with a surprising amount to say to each other, particularly on the subject of Judaism. Greif’s many previous works include two books on Einstein as well as one on Marilyn.
Austin Ratner‘s first book, “The Jump Artist,” is the winner of the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog series. For more information on the series, please visit:
When I learned about Philippe Halsman’s life-story and determined I would write a novel about him (“The Jump Artist,” 2011 winner of the Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature), I was struck by the contradictions he embodied. Here was a man whom history had ensnared in a frightful way — at the age of 22, he was falsely accused of murdering his father in anti-Semitic western Austria, and he served two years in prison, where he attempted suicide and almost died of tuberculosis. At the same time, here was a man who re-emerged in New York in the 1940s as a photographer — one whose work expressed the playfulness and optimism of post-war life in America on the covers of Life magazine. Halsman himself was by all accounts a secular Jew, but his story and his work are as Jewish as a Hillel sandwich, and represent almost as neatly the opposite poles of pain and joy that define the Jewish historical experience.
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