I’m reading James Ellroy’s magnificent new novel ‘The Enchanters’, much of which has to do with the still mysterious death of Marilyn Monroe. Most of the Monroe material thus far (I’m halfway through) revolves around her house in Brentwood, where she was discovered dead of an overdose of barbituates (per the coroner’s report) early in the morning on August 5, 1962. Above is some chilling silent black and white footage shot hours after the discovery of her body. We see a couple of cops wander in and out of the house. Special attention is paid by the cameraman to a piece of paper with a message on it wedged into the front door (I can’t make out what it says dammit!). They examine the casement windows and appear to find something broken–was this ever pursued? A coroner’s van arrives and we get a view of her bedroom with the rumpled blankets. Is she still there underneath the blankets? The fact that those present enter and exit with such casual disregard for disturbing things makes it clear that it was not considered a crime scene. Who shot this footage? I have no idea. If this wasn’t a crime scene then forensics had nothing to do with it. Was the cameraman even sanctioned to be here?

The house, located at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, happens to be in the news again as I write this; it’s for sale for roughly $8,300,000 but the sale is being blocked by a group who successfully appealed to he Los Angeles City Council who want to see it preserved for some reason. I say ‘for some reason’ because even though I’m a fervent believer in architectural preservation there is little connection to this house and Monroe’s life. She bought the house five months before her death and though it clearly was the nexus of the sad last months of her deterioration–it was here that she hid in a pills/booze stupor from the filming of ‘Somethings Got To Give’ on the Fox lot just a few miles away–one can’t make anything but the most ghoulish case for revisiting the house in order to understand or appreciate anything about her. The house is a modest and charming 1929 Spanish bungalow and will most certainly be torn down if a sale is allowed. Like so many older houses in LA, the land that it’s on is simply too valuable now to allow anything less than a steroidal monstrosity to exist on it. Curious that in Marilyn’s day it wasn’t considered odd that she chose to live alone in a two-bedroom house. Now it would be odd for her to live in anything less than a 15,000 square foot behemoth replete with gym, screening room, bowling alley, mud room, sauna, cigar and wine club room, multiple pools and, of course, the newly de rigueur Pickle Ball court.


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4 Responses

  1. You’re right, the film is chilling, especially with its voyeur’s perspective, looking into the window of what is presumably Monroe’s bedroom. And then in the middle of it, a brief image of Monroe pops up, as though her ghost is haunting it. I would assume whoever filmed it was either connected with the police in some way or was a reporter allowed some access–either that, or cops were then a hell of a lot more relaxed about preserving evidence at a death scene. I’m thinking the paper on the doors–it looks stuck to the wood–was that a way of marking the door in case of disturbances? The whole casualness of what we’re seeing is what makes it so bizarre and sad.

    1. Yes the Marilyn ‘cameo’ is super weird. Perhaps it was standard procedure for the cops to carry a camera guy to a celebrity death house, possibly for use in future investigations (which were likely since it was a world-wide celebrity who’d died)? Just a wild guess…

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