When it comes to Old Hollywood, one of the brightest stars of the era was Marilyn Monroe. Described by many as the blonde bombshell of Tinseltown, Marilyn was regarded as one of the most iconic stars. She followed the footsteps of Mae West and Jean Harlow, both of whom were given the same moniker by Hollywood.
During the height of her career in the early 1960s, Monroe lived in Los Angeles, California. Here’s a look into Marilyn Monroe’s house, including its grim history.
Life in Hollywood
Before Marilyn Monroe was known as the star that she still is today, she was known as Norma Jean Mortensen. She was born on June 1, 1926, and throughout her childhood, she stayed in 12 foster homes and an orphanage. Her first marriage was when she was 16 years old to James Dougherty.
She started out as a pin-up model after she met a photographer from the First Motion Picture Unit while working at a factory during World War II. This led to contracts with 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures. In late 1950, Monroe signed a new contract under 20th Century Fox and quickly rose to stardom in the next two years.
Her career skyrocketed when she starred in several films, including As Young as You Feel, Monkey Business, Clash By Night, and Don’t Bother To Knock. By 1953, Monroe became one of the most marketable Hollywood stars and received leading roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire.
It was her roles in those films that Monroe was typecast as the “dumb blonde.” Monroe appeared in one of her biggest films at the time, the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch. Her string of memorable performances included Bus Stop, and The Prince and The Showgirl. In 1959, Monroe won a Golden Globe for her performance in Some Like It Hot. Her final film was The Misfits in 1961.
Where is Marilyn Monroe’s House?
Marilyn Monroe’s house could be found at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, in Los Angeles, California. Monroe purchased the property in February 1962 for $77,500, reportedly paying half in cash, and took out a mortgage for the second half. The actress bought the house following the end of her third marriage to playwright Arthur Miller.
The hacienda-style house, a common style in the houses during Old Hollywood, has only one floor. It sits on 2,900 square feet of property at the end of a cul-de-sac off Carmelina Avenue. It was built in 1929 and consisted of two bedrooms and three bathrooms.
There is a free-form swimming pool in the backyard, adjacent to a citrus grove and a guest house. The tiles on the doorstep say “Cursum Perficio” or “I have completed my journey.”
A Planned Sanctuary
In an interview with Life Magazine, shortly before she passed away, Marilyn described the property, especially the apartment attached to the garage as “a place for any friends of mine who are in some kind of trouble.”
“Maybe they’ll want to live here where they won’t be bothered ‘til things are okay for them,” the actress said at the time.
The reporter who interviewed Monroe at the time was given a tour of the residence and complimented it.
“Good, anybody who likes my house, I’m sure I’ll get along with,” said Monroe.
The Dark History
The house on Fifth Helena Drive, despite being known as the starlet’s only residence, also holds some dark memories. Marilyn Monroe didn’t reside in that house for very long as on August 4, 1962, she was found dead in a bedroom of the house.
An autopsy officially found that Monroe died of a barbiturate overdose. The actress reportedly ingested a lethal amount of Nembutal, often used to treat anxiety. Monroe also reportedly drank a sedative called chloral hydrate. Her death was also ruled a “probable suicide.”
Monroe’s body was found by her housekeeper, Eunice Murray. Murray noticed the actress’s bedroom light still on in the early hours of the morning. The circumstances surrounding her death remain shrouded in mystery as she was under the constant care of a doctor and psychiatrist. Both prescribed the actress with several medications to treat her mental health issues and insomnia.
Monroe’s passing also fueled conspiracy theories that there was foul play involved.
Marilyn Monroe’s House Today
Today, Marilyn Monroe’s house pretty much remains intact, but with some updates. The house now has four bedrooms from the original two bedrooms. Its kitchen and bathrooms have also been modernized and the guest house was merged into the main house. The casement windows, terracotta tile floors, and wood-beamed ceilings still remain.
The changes to the house came in the decades since Monroe’s death as well as changes in ownership. It has captured the attention of house hunters over the years. The property received six offers on the residence not long after Monroe died, according to the New York Post.
In 2013, the process began for Monroe’s house to be given a landmark status. According to the house’s neighbor Rodney Liber, a movie producer, the residence is “one of the most famous houses in the world.”
New Ownership & Near-Demolition
In 2017, Marilyn Monroe’s house was put up for sale for $6.9 million. It was eventually sold to an LLC called “Glory of the Snow,” managed by Dan Lukas and Anne Jarman for $7.25 million. Years later in 2023, Lukas and Jarman sold the property for $8.4 million to “Glory of the Snow Trust.”
The late starlet’s residence was put at risk for demolition by the Glory of the Snow Trust, as they filed for a demolition permit. The trust is reportedly managed by someone named Andrew Sahure, but the name appeared to be a moniker. It remains unclear what the new owners of the house plan on doing with it.
In September 2023, a Change.org petition circulated on the internet, asking the city of Los Angeles to turn the house into a museum. The neighbors sought to have the property listed as a historical site. City Councilmember Traci Park on September 8, 2023, handed the motion to the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. The motion was unanimously approved and the CHC has 75 days to make a decision.
The spokesperson for Park said that the councilmember received dozens of calls asking to intervene on the matter of demolishing Monroe’s home. Following the motion, the LA Board of Building and Safety Commissioners paused any possible work on the site, informing the owners in a letter that the preliminary approval for demolition was “issued in error.”
“This will be the first step in ensuring that we can protect this home against demolition,” Park told ABC 7. “The overwhelming sentiment here is clear. This home must be preserved as a crucial piece of Hollywood’s and the city of Los Angeles’ history, culture, and legacy.”