Marilyn Monroe, immortalized in a 26-foot statue, has extended her run through August at one of her favorite places, Palm Springs, Calif. After all, this is where the former Norma Jean Baker was discovered in 1949, at Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club—at age 22.
“Marilyn Forever” towers over a central intersection of downtown Palm Springs, and will be here for her birthday on June 1 and the anniversary of her death on Aug. 5. The city screens outdoor movies on the wall behind her, and thousands of tourists—including former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and ’60s bombshell Mamie Van Doren—have snapped their photo with her.
Marilyn in Palm Springs
After her “discovery” in Palm Springs, by Johnny Hyde of the William Morris talent agency, she had many famous photos taken around the racquet club’s pool.
In the 1950s, Monroe was a regular visitor to Palm Springs with then-husband Joe DiMaggio. In the early ’60s, she had a house in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood, and it’s seen on Palm Springs celebrity tours.
The pose for Johnson’s statue was suggested by the famous photo Bernard of Hollywood shot for a promotional event for the film “The Seven Year Itch,” starring Monroe and Tom Ewell.
Seward Johnson’s Icons
The sculpture is part of Seward Johnson’s most recent series, Icons Revisited, which poses questions about society’s embrace of visual icons and their impact and shift of message over time. Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, has had these monumental pieces on view through the Sarasota Season of Sculpture annual fine arts exhibition, the Port of San Diego and Rome’s International Sculpture Biennale.
“I am very pleased that Marilyn will be on view in Palm Springs,” the 83-year-old sculptor has said. “It was, after all, a location of her own choosing, and I assume that she was drawn to the beauty and stillness of the landscape. There is something about her pose; the exuberance for life without inhibition, which is quintessentially American. It expresses an uninhibited sense of our own vibrancy.”
The Marilyn statue is:
- 26 feet tall, 17 ft. wide, 18 ft. deep
- 34,300 pounds of stainless steel and aluminum
- 10 layers of matte color for realistic skin tones, plus gloss on her lips, toe nails and a pearl finish on her earrings
- assembled in four sections plus a base.
“Forever Marilyn” debuted July 15, 2011, on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. She arrived in Palm Springs on May 14, 2012, after a six-day road trip. Following five days of assembly and restoration, she was unveiled in the desert May 24.
“Forever Marilyn” is on loan from The Sculpture Foundation, a charitable and educational organization dedicated to providing exhibitions and contemporary landmark public artworks for communities. The statue in Palm Springs is sponsored by P.S. Resorts, a non-profit organization of local hoteliers. A group of organizers is trying to raise funds for a permanent installation of “Marilyn Forever” in Palm Springs.
When you go
Visit Greater Palm Springs. You can find Marilyn’s star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars at 101 S. Palm Canyon Dr., near her “Forever Marilyn” sculpture. Follow Forever Marilyn on Twitter and Facebook.