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  • Writer's picturesara wynne

Marilyn Monroe & Catalina Island

If you were to ask me if Marilyn Monroe was one of my all-time favorite celebrities I would probably have to think about it for a good long while. I haven't seen any of her movies and have only heard her voice a handful of times. She has still managed to make an impact on me though. Her life was truly inspiring, the little I know of it. 60 years have passed since her death but we all still see her every day, at least in Los Angeles.

This city loves to constantly remind us of her- on billboards, freeway underpasses, storefronts, building sidings, and makeup, she is still very much a part of everyday life here in Los Angeles so visiting her homes, her stomping grounds and even her grave centers things for me on this fascinating woman. She truly was an ordinary girl with extraordinary experiences and a destiny that solidified her spirit.

Ive written about her apartment life here and throughout here but she was already Marilyn Monroe at the time she lived on North Doheny Drive and on 5th Helena. I wanted to take it back further to when she was still a young teenager named Norma Jeane who married a neighbor because her guardians were moving away and she didn't want to go back into the fostercare system. They moved to Catalina Island when her husband was stationed there, she lived on the island less than a year from 1943-1944. Some articles I have read stated that she lived on the island from 1943-1945. Other articles and image stamps read 1945. Im unclear on the exact dates she lived on the island.

It was on this island that Norma's arrow was being pulled back just before it shot forward and the world would know her as Marilyn Monroe.

This image above is the best photo where I can identify where she is. The home on the hillside is Lookout Cottage and the pier beind Norma is pleasure pier. The tree and those tiles are the best shot I had in finding where she stood and if its still there today.

Well, found it!

1, 2 that is half a tile, 3, 4, 5, 6th tile then Norma....

The area looks a little different. The tree is still there but a stage with a few steps have been constructed for outdoor concerts. There was a lot of band equipment everywhere and I didn't want to move too many items around. I was so blown away that the spot was found. The light post was removed and a plaque has been added, no reference to Marilyn Monroe though. The second tile that is half is actually found in a few places around the island. I am unsure what the half tile represents but I did find it in a few places. The placement of tile design seems to be random as well. This actually helped locating her exact spot.

Here is another angle of the spot. My daughter Serene Moon is standing on the ground level, the 4 steps leading up to the stage is what was added since Norma's time there.

In keeping with my tour of Marilyns steps around the island I had to visit the home that is assumed to be the house she and Jim, her husband, lived in. Now, I also read in a few different articles that the home had a balcony and a porch. One article stated Norma and Jim would sit on the porch while he played the guitar and she sang. Another article stated her balcony faced Mt. Ada. So, I did what I do and set out to see where this porch and where this balcony was. While searching and reading various online publications I found the address as 310 Metropole Ave.

Some articles said she and Jim lived in a three story house... 310 does not have 3 levels nor is it a single family residence. In fact, it has always been a multifamily structure since 1912, 7 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms split between 3 units. I pulled records to see what further I could discover. One thing I did notice is that the buildings surrounding 310 Metropole were all multifamily dwellings built in the early 1900s.

The above photo is from the sidewalk. Im facing the corner of the house. To my right will lead to the front door, but the front door also has a side double door with the letter C on it.

To the left of the house is where the front door to the other units are, you can see them with screens on the door.

The door on the side of the building that is closest to the sidewalk must belong to the door that is facing the sidewalk, the "front door" but I'm not certain. I pulled record but couldn't find a floorplan.

The original door that I believe belongs to one of the units as a side door.

You can see the "welcome" mat on the floor and an old fashioned doorbell to one of the units with a top light above the door. The further you walk back you are indeed looking at Mt Ada and there is a balcony in the back!

If you are interested in seeing a quick video of me walking to the back of the building and back up to the sidewalk again then head over here. While Im walking back towards the sidewalk you can see the large pink building directly in front which is the Hotel St. Lauren. That was built in the late 80s so when Marilyn, err- Norma lived at 310 Metropole the lot across the way could have been vacant.

To the right of the "front door" are steps leading down. There are windows but no doors on that side of the structure.

I wish I could see the interior or a floor plan. I plan to continue a deeper search for the connection between this address and Norma Jeane...

...till then

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