Photos: Marilyn Monroe’s star still shines bright, 60 years after her death

The sculpture "Forever Marilyn" is sprayed at night during the sculpture's installation.
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)
Share

Like ripples on a pond, her memory lives on through the people who celebrate her and remember her.

Aug. 5 will mark the 60th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death.

She would have been 96 this year.

Some relate to her quietly, while others have dedicated their lives to keeping her story alive.

Many tell stories of how she has inspired them and has gotten them through tough times. Some are captivated by her beauty. Others feel she has been misunderstood and her intelligence underestimated.

Some simply enjoy her movies. There are few still living who knew her personally. Her crypt at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park is visited regularly and flowers still arrive nearly daily.

Advertisement

There is also the “business of Marilyn.” Marilyn is a big tourist draw in Southern California. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, her likenesses, small and large, were displayed to bring in badly needed tourist dollars.

Simply put, there is only one Marilyn, and she is still a magnetic force in Southern California.

The death of the Hollywood star generated decades of speculation as to whether Marilyn Monroe’s overdose was a suicide, an accident or something more sinister.

Preserving her memory

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

Greg Schreiner is the president of the Marilyn Remembered fan club. Schreiner has a vast collection of the star’s personal items.

"I wish that I had known her, and that’s why I started collecting — so I could get to know her better."

“I didn’t know her, of course, but I’ve met dozens of people that did know her. They said that she had a very warm, giving, loving personality. She was the kind of person you’d want to hang around.”


— Greg Schreiner

Advertisement

Annual memorial service

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

A memorial service for Marilyn Monroe is held at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park on Aug. 5, 2021, the same chapel where her memorial was held 59 years earlier.

The Marilyn Remembered fan club has hosted regular meetings and organized events including the annual memorial service for nearly 40 years.

Established in 1982, the club was founded by four Monroe fans who met by chance at her crypt on the anniversary of her death. The club’s mission: “To preserve the memory of Marilyn Monroe with dignity and grace.”

Classmate Renee Taylor

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

Actress Renee Taylor, now 89, spoke at last year’s memorial service and recounted how Monroe shared beauty tips with her.

“I don’t think she got credit for her great performances."

— Actress Renee Taylor

Taylor and Monroe were in Lee Strasberg’s acting class together.

“She would stand in front of everybody and be critiqued in class. It was impressive that she would be vulnerable like that,” Taylor said.

Monroe told her the secret to soft skin was to be covered in Vaseline while taking baths for hours at a time. She also told Taylor that eating grapes would help. Taylor tried both and said neither was as successful as she’d hoped.

Advertisement

18,000 roses over 20 Years

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

Baseball great Joe DiMaggio, Monroe’s second husband, had six red roses delivered three times a week to her crypt for more than 20 years, according to Susan Hail, owner of the Parisian Florist.

They delivered more than 18,000 roses in all.

Then one day, DiMaggio came into the shop and said “that’s enough” and discontinued the deliveries.

Monroe’s funeral and casket arrangement were one of Hail’s father’s first jobs as a florist. The family-owned shop continues to operate and provides flowers for many of Monroe’s friends and fans who continue to buy them to honor her.

Marilyn at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

In honor of her 95th birthday on June 1, 2021, the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel screened “Some Like it Hot,” one of Monroe’s most famous movies.

The Hollywood Roosevelt swimming pool is the site of a Monroe photo shoot in 1951.

"I discovered my femininity via Marilyn. ... I've enjoyed paying homage to her all these years."

— Jessica “Sugar” Kiper, Marilyn Monroe impersonator

“Forever Marilyn”

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)
Advertisement

The 26-foot-tall, 24,000-pound stainless steel and aluminum sculpture “Forever Marilyn” was installed in Palm Springs. Adam Garey removes a protective cover from the sculpture.

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

Cher-Javier, a Monroe impersonator in Palm Springs, said: “I have tons of books about her. What inspires me about her is her rise from the tragic life she led. It’s unbelievable. She was just this little orphan girl.”

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

A Marilyn Remembered fan club member displays a portrait she won as a prize at a holiday luncheon hosted by the club at El Coyote Mexican restaurant on Dec. 11, 2021, in Los Angeles.

Still a presence on Hollywood Boulevard

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

Artist Julio Cesar Castellanos of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum puts finishing touches on a Marilyn Monroe figure on the anniversary of her birth in 2021. In addition to his work at the museum, Castellanos specializes in Marilyn Monroe replica gowns.

"She has an enduring influence on today's fashion and beauty."

— Artist Julio Cesar Castellanos

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
A Marilyn Monroe mannequin is installed at the TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in March 2021.
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

Like family

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)
Advertisement

From left, Marilyn Remembered club members Monica Shahri, Jeanne Witczak and Jessica “Sugar” Kiper at the club’s holiday luncheon on Dec. 11, 2021, are photographed by fan Christopher R. Elliott.

“I met her in a previous life.”

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

Ezequiel Banuelos, 25, from Torrance, visits Monroe’s crypt at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park on her 95th birthday. Flowers from the Immortal Marilyn and Marilyn Remembered fan clubs are displayed.

“She is a very big inspiration, and someone who helped me get through the toughest of times. I met her in a previous life, and she’d tell me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get through this,’” said Banuelos.

“What I’m doing, that’s just love.”

Marilyn Monroe photo essay
(Amy Gaskin / For The Times)

Steve Gonzales cleans Marilyn Monroe’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“I was born in love with Marilyn Monroe. What I’m doing, that’s just love,” said Gonzales, who has been cleaning her Walk of Fame star for the last five years.

Amy Gaskin is a Los Angeles-based photographer with a passion for storytelling.