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Happy Birthday Marilyn!
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June 1, 1926 -August 5, 1962
You would have to be either born yesterday or sequestered on some island for the last forty years not to know this blond beauty. Marilyn had a phenomenal career as a sex symbol starring in such films as "The Seven Year Itch" and "Some Like it Hot." Although these movies were successful at the box office, they left poor Marilyn unsatisfied as an actress. Wanting to broaden her skills as an actress she studied under Lee Strasberg in an attempt to be considered for the serious roles that eluded her. Unfortunately her hopes to bring fulfillment to her career turned out to be just another disappointment. The public and the studio could not see beyond the sexy persona she had worked so hard to create.
All her success did nothing but make her life more complicated. Three marriages, a couple of miscarriages, two suicide attempts and an addiction to drugs and alcohol all took its toll on the fragile Marilyn. On August 5, 1962, she was found dead from an apparent overdose of barbiturates at her Los Angeles home. The newspapers were quick to print that she was found in bed naked, clutching her telephone, forever leaving the public wondering who she was attempting to call.
Pierce Brothers owner, Guy Hockett, was sent over to Marilyn's to remove her body at 7:30 am. Believe it or not her body remained unclaimed for several hours before ex- husband and close friend, Joe DiMaggio stepped in to handle all the arrangements for the services and her entombment. One of the things he did was to ban all her Hollywood "friends" and because of the
alleged affairs with both brothers, all Kennedys from her funeral. When Pat Kennedy Lawford, who made a special trip from the east coast to pay her last respects, she was turned away. DiMaggio felt that those he had excluded were all morally responsible for her death.
The service was held at the Westwood Memorial Park Chapel and was attended by only thirty one mourners. This was hardly a typical Hollywood funeral one would expect for such a monumental star.
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" played softly as she lay in an open bronze casket lined with champagne colored satin. Partially exposed she was dressed in her green Pucci dress and a green chiffon scarf. In her hands was a posy of pink teacup roses, a gift from DiMaggio, who had sat Virgil the night before. After the funeral DiMaggio set up an account with a local florist to put roses on Marilyn's grave twice a week, for the next twenty years. It was a promise that he made to her on the night that they wed, that if anything were to happen to her he would honor her in some special way, as William Powell did Jean Harlow.
Allan Whitey Snyer did her makeup for years and was responsible to do her make up for the last time. A flask of gin was required to help him carry out the promise he had made in jest many years earlier. Marilyn gave him a gold money clip from Tiffany's inscribed with: "Whitey Dear, While I'm still warm, Marilyn." to remind him of his promise. Long time hairdresser to Marilyn, Agnes Flanagan, did her hair. Due to the damage that the autopsy had caused, Agnes had to find a wig similar to the style Marilyn wore in her last movie.
Though the initial medical examination determined her cause of death as a suicide. Many conspiracy theories have linked the Kennedys and/or the Mafia as the real cause for her premature demise. Perhaps it is because her death has been shrouded in mystery that she remains eternal as an icon for future generations to enjoy.
Founded in 1904 the Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park was a quiet neighborhood cemetery; that is, until 1962 when Marilyn moved in. Prior to her entombment it was considered "unfashionable" to be buried there. Now it is considered to be one of the most expensive cemetery in the U.S., with an average price of interment being $22,000. Hugh Hefner reputedly paid $85,000 to spend eternity next to the girl who launched his magazine with her famous photo. It could be speculated that Joe DiMaggio, who has the reputation to shun the limelight, chose this quiet place for her.
Rumor has it that Marilyn was entombed with a million dollar diamond necklace. One night two very stupid thieves attempted to break into her crypt hoping they could steal the necklace. They, however, didn't take into consideration the 500 pounds of concrete they would have to break through to reach Marilyn. To this day, her crypt is framed by cracked marble from the unsuccessful attempt. Her grave is always adorned with gifts from friends and fans from all over the world. In fact, in front of her crypt is a bench that was erected in her honor by her fan club, so mourners can have a place to sit while paying their last respects.
Here's some new information provided by www.abbottandhast.com. They are Publishers of Mortuary Management monthly magazine and Funeral Monitor
weekly newsletter, a funeral service publication for the death care industry. Allan Abbott spent three days at Westwood assisting in the preparation of Marilyn. Also there were her hairdresser and makeup man. Six uniformed Pinkerton guards were provided to protect her during the service.
Prior to dressing Miss Monroe, the embalmer decided to use a surgical procedure to reduce the swelling in the back of her neck. He cut some hair away and made an incision and sutured it up tightly. Mary Hammock who was one of the partners in the mortuary, noticed that Marilyn appeared to be too flat chested and not the Marilyn known in life. The embalmer explained that the autopsy had rendered her chest in that condition. The family brought in a pair of breast enhancers that she had frequently worn, but they were too small to compensate for the effects of the post-mortem.
Mrs. Hammock removed the falsies from the chartreuse Pucci dress, and formed her own version out of cotton from the preproom shelf. When she finally finished she stepped back admiring her work and said, "Now that looks like Marilyn Monroe!"
Here's a photo of Marilyn's real funeral taken August 8, 1962. Westwood has changed tremendously with exception to the chapel, it remains the same. A Hollywood Underground friend, Roger, was present at that funeral told me that as they were taking Marilyn to her crypt, Joe DiMaggio wanted to see her just one more time. So they opened her coffin and as they did a gust of wind blew some of Marilyn's hair (wig) out of the casket. People gasped because it looked as though she was getting up. What a scary sight that must have been.
Westwood Memorial Park
1218 Glendon Avenue
West Los Angeles, California
Directions: Take the 405 to Wilshire Blvd. exit. Travel east to Glendon Ave. Make a right. SLOW DOWN! You see some parking garages and office buildings, look for a black sign to your left, Pierce Brothers Mortuary, Westwood Memorial Park, turn. You will enter an "oasis of tranquility," so the brochure says. It is pretty amazing. Corridor of Memories, Crypt #24
Once inside the make a left and park. Walk past Mel Torme and keep going. You'll pass 3 Sanctuaries, that look like little rooms, on your left. At the end of the last one you'll see a hallway, a little bench and Marilyn's crypt. See the empty crypt next to her? Supposedly that is the crypt will someday be occupied by Hugh Hefner.