It's September 1st, and the beginning of fall. Today I'm taking you back to a hauntingly beautiful day in 1962, and through a well known memorial filled with some of Old Hollywood's greatest. This famous cemetery is surprisingly nestled between eclectic towering buildings of a new Los Angeles. It was first built in 1905, but has tombstones dating back to the 1880's. Ironically, the name was not changed to Westwood Memorial Park until 1926, Marilyn's birth year.
As I approach the wrought iron gates of The Pierce Brothers Cemetery, I'm always filled with excitement and sorrow, but as soon as I walk past the historic Art Deco ornate entrance, I am then overcome with peace and serenity. It is sunlit and warm, with plush green grass and tranquil willow trees hovering above. I love to slowly stroll through the meadows, which are anything but morbid. This peaceful place is structured with hundreds of cream colored marble crypts creating the outer walls of the park, which also encompasses the supple landscaping, sprinkled with memorial plaques and stones. It is unbelievably silent and serene, with only the delicate sounds of the breeze rustling the foliage. There is notable scents including rosewood, lily of the valley, hyacinth, and pine.
Out of the hundreds of crypts in Westwood Memorial Park, I always know exactly the direction I need to go, arriving at a small wall of about 50 crypts. Every time, I am overcome with many emotions, as I glance up and see one marbled crypt that is different among all of the other crypts. The marble has a pink glow to it and the plaque is anything but dull, as it is bright bronze complete with gold engraving. Each crypt has a small earn allowing flowers, next to its plaque. But this distinctive pink-hued crypt has far more flowers than any other on its wall. It reads none other than simply:
Marilyn Monroe 1926-1962.
I am brought back to 1:00 pm, August 8th, 1962. Many of Marilyn’s friends had gathered at this very place in sadness, while paparazzi bulbs flashed, and fans poured over the gates hoping to get a final glimpse of their beloved fallen bombshell. It's overwhelming to know that she is lying in eternity just through the slab of pink marble.
Standing at the entrance gates
The weather was extremely hot, but I always show my respect and come dressed in my Sunday best. Today it was a 1950's below-the-knee, black crepe dress with a ruched satin waist and bow. I especially love the dolman style 3/4 length sleeve and lapel, in which I added a black and gold vintage rose brooch from my great grandmother.
|By Tom Stratton|
During the service Marilyn's body 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 hand was a tiny bouquet of baby pink roses put there by DiMaggio.
Marilyn's friends, at the same spot, which looks very different today
|*Special thanks to Tom Stratton for capturing some of these special moments*|
Marilyn's Pallbearers. At Marilyn's request, Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" played. Only 31 close friends and family were allowed in by Joe DiMaggio.
The love that filled this place on August 8th is incredible..
|By Tom Stratton|
Hugh Hefner has purchased the plot to the left of Marilyn, as he says he owes the success of Playboy to the first centerfold, Monroe.
Dozens of fans and reporters as Marilyn leaves the show
With my Marilyn <3
My favorite ball player and once husband of Marilyn (Yankee clipper - Joe DiMaggio) sent roses to her grave every week until he passed.
I knew Marilyn would appreciate my Spring-o-lators <3
This photo was taken right as I arrived, and I watched as the daily grave worker wiped away the kiss marks left behind.
After being cleaned of the mess
Marilyn in great company, with her friend and co-star - Jack Lemmon in "Some like it Hot"
I also come to visit another inspiration of mine, and Queen of Pinups..
Ms. Bettie Page
I watched as a grave worker brought new, fresh flowers to Bettie's grave. She told me they are sent weekly from a "family friend," which I think I know whom she's referring to.
Bettie's service was also held here, in the private chapel
The Room of Prayer
Another person I adore, Mr. Dean Martin. "And life will always be la vie en rose." Others that I'm happy to see here are Natalie Wood, Roy Orbison, Mel Torme, Peggy Lee and Truman Capote.
Always holding a good thought for Marilyn.