Discover Marilyn Monroe's Los Angeles

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Norma Jeane Mortenson was born in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926. The world knows her today as Marilyn Monroe, who became one of the biggest movie stars of the 1950s and early 1960s, only to have her life cut short at age 36. Monroe was known for her comedic performances in classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch, and Some Like It Hot. Eager to escape typecasting, Monroe studied at the Actors Studio - her dramatic turn in Bus Stop earned critical praise and garnered a Golden Globe nomination. In the decades since her controversial death - officially ruled a “probable suicide” - Monroe has become a legendary movie star, international sex symbol, and pop culture icon. In March 2020, Monroe was named one of TIME's 100 Women of the Year, a list of the most influential women of the past century.

Read on for Los Angeles locations where you can discover Marilyn Monroe’s enduring legacy, from her favorite hotels and restaurants, to one of the world’s foremost collections of Marilyn memorabilia.

The Hollywood Roosevelt

The landmark Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel was Marilyn Monroe’s home for two years, just as her modeling career began to take off. Monroe was staying in one of the vintage 1950s Cabanas at the time of her first professional magazine shoot, which took place at the Roosevelt’s famed Tropicana Pool. The 750 square-foot Marilyn Monroe Suite features a loft-like open floor plan, kitchenette, and a balcony that overlooks the pool.

Marilyn Monroe in Korea, after a USO performance (Feb. 17, 1954)
Marilyn Monroe in Korea, after a USO performance at the 3rd U.S. Inf. Div. area. (Feb. 17, 1954) | Photo by Cpl. Welshman (Army), Wikipedia

Hollywood Museum

Dedicated to the history and heritage of Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the Hollywood Museum houses 10,000 show business treasures from over 100 years of Hollywood history - it’s one of the most extensive collections of Hollywood memorabilia in the world. The museum includes Max Factor’s world-famous make-up rooms, where Marilyn Monroe became a blonde and Lucille Ball became a redhead. The museum’s incomparable Marilyn Monroe collection includes everything from personal items and wardrobe to her limousine.

Marilyn Monroe’s million-dollar honeymoon dress is one of the most memorable items on display at the Hollywood Museum. Monroe wore it on her honeymoon when she married Joe DiMaggio, as well as when she entertained troops in Korea in 1954. She continued to wear it as her personal dress, making it a truly unique artifact compared to typical Hollywood wardrobe items.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell at Grauman's Chinese Theatre (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell leave their handprints in the Forecourt of the Stars (June 26, 1953) | Photo courtesy of TCL Chinese Theatre, Facebook

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

Marilyn Monroe’s "dumb blonde" persona was used to great comedic effect in films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), co-starring Jane Russell. Monroe’s performance as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee is best remembered for her iconic rendition of Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, featuring William Travilla’s famous pink satin dress. Thanks to the film’s success, Monroe and Russell were invited to put their signatures, hand and shoe prints into cement at the famed Forecourt of the Stars at the TCL Chinese Theatre, then known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

The main bar of the Formosa Cafe at night
Main bar of the Formosa Cafe | Photo by Maxim Shapovalov

Formosa Café

The Formosa Café opened next to The Lot, a studio previously known as the Warner Hollywood Studio, Samuel Goldwyn Studio and United Artists Studio. Billed as the place "where the stars dine," the Formosa interior was lined with hundreds of autographed photos of its famous patrons, a galaxy of legendary stars that includes Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, and Elizabeth Taylor. The Formosa reopened in June 2019 after a stunning $2.4-million renovation by 1933 Group.

Barney's Beanery in West Hollywood
Photo: Barney's Beanery, Facebook

Barney's Beanery - The Original

Opened in West Hollywood in 1920, the original Barney’s Beanery has served generations of pop culture icons, including Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. Now expanded to six locations, Barney’s Beanery still serves the classic chili that was a favorite order for Marilyn Monroe, who was a regular guest during the filming of Some Like It Hot (1959). Her performance as Sugar "Kane" Kowalczyk garnered Monroe a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Comedy or Musical in 1960.

Marilyn Suite at The Charlie Hotel
Marilyn Suite | Photo: The Charlie Hotel

The Charlie Hotel

The Charlie Hotel was once the home of Charlie Chaplin, located on Sweetzer Avenue in West Hollywood. The collection of charming 1920s bungalows were used by Chaplin’s struggling actor friends - Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Clark Gable all stayed here at one time or another. Today, the 14 cottages offer discreet and stylish accommodations for a change of pace from the traditional hotel stay. In the 1940s, Marilyn Monroe lived in the two-bedroom cottage that now bears her name. The Marilyn features views of the meadow from the formal dining room, and a modern kitchen that opens up into a private, wraparound patio.

Lemmy's Lounge at Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip
Lemmy's Lounge at Rainbow Bar & Grill | Photo: @_bennibenson_, Instagram

Rainbow Bar & Grill

Located adjacent to the Roxy Theatre on the legendary Sunset Strip, the Rainbow Bar & Grill has been a hangout for rock stars since the early 1970s, welcoming everyone from Led Zeppelin and Alice Cooper to Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Guns N' Roses. Before it became the Rainbow, the space was home to an Italian restaurant called Villa Nova, which was owned by Vincente Minnelli while he was married to Judy Garland. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio went on a blind date at Villa Nova in 1952. It’s been over six decades since that night, and guests still request the “Marilyn booth.”

Marilyn Monroe at the Beverly Carlton Hotel (1951)
Marilyn Monroe at the Beverly Carlton Hotel, 1951 | Photo by Phil Burchman, Avalon Hotel, Facebook

Avalon Hotel

Discreetly located in the heart of Beverly Hills, the Avalon Hotel is a stylish boutique property that features a dramatic pool terrace with private cabanas and the chic Oliverio restaurant. The hotel was previously an industry hangout known as the Beverly Carlton Hotel. Beginning in 1948, the hotel was Marilyn Monroe’s intermittent home for a few years. The hotel's hourglass-shaped pool and poolside cabanas can be seen in Monroe’s photos from that era.

The Beverly Hills Hotel And Bungalows

Marilyn Monroe lived at the Beverly Hills Hotel several times during her career. Her last stay at the “Pink Palace” was during the filming of Let’s Make Love (1960). Monroe and her husband, playwright Arthur Miller - who re-wrote the script without a credit - stayed in a bungalow adjacent to her co-star, Yves Montand and his wife, Simone Signoret, who had just won the Best Actress Oscar for Room at the Top. Monroe and Montand reportedly bonded during the film’s troubled production, and a brief affair ensued. Monroe and Miller divorced shortly before Monroe’s final film, The Misfits, premiered in 1961.

Marilyn Monroe, "Here's to You" from "The Last Sitting"
Marilyn Monroe, "Here's to You" from "The Last Sitting" | Photo: Antonio Marín Segovia, Flickr

Hotel Bel-Air, Dorchester Collection

The legendary Hotel Bel-Air recently emerged from a two-year, multi-million dollar renovation that invites new generations of travelers to experience the style of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The hotel is designed in a Spanish mission style, and is nestled on 12 lush acres in the exclusive Bel-Air Estates. Marilyn Monroe lived at the Hotel Bel-Air during a decade-long period that included her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, as well as the filming of Some Like It Hot. 

The Hotel Bel-Air was the site for The Last Sitting, the famous photo shoot by photographer Bert Stern that was commissioned by Vogue magazine in June 1962, just six weeks before Monroe died. The shoot took place in a suite over three daily sessions. Stern first published The Last Sitting in 1982. The book included a large number of the over 2,500 images that Stern had shot, including contact sheets with images Monroe had disliked and crossed out.

Marilyn Monroe’s crypt at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary
Marilyn Monroe’s crypt at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary | Photo: Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park

Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park is the final resting place for a Who’s Who of pop culture, including Marilyn Monroe, Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote, Farrah Fawcett, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison, Natalie Wood, Frank Zappa and many more. With its only entrance on Glendon Avenue, the cemetery is hidden, though not impossible to find. Monroe is interred in a pink marble crypt (no. 24) at the Corridor of Memories. Hugh Hefner, who died in September 2017, was buried next to her. Joe DiMaggio had a half-dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three times a week for the next 20 years. He never spoke publicly about his relationship with Monroe and never remarried.