A tour of Marilyn's Tinseltown, 50 years later

Leila Macor
1 August 2012
Marilyn Monroe became a household name after a troubled childhood in orphanages
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American actress Marilyn Monroe kicks the soccer ball during a game pitting Israel's Hapoel club against the All-Stars US team at the Ebbets Field stadium in Brooklyn in 1957. August 5 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the legendary sex symbol from an overdose of barbiturates

When the guide points out the location of the Hollywood salon where blond bombshell Marilyn Monroe first bleached her hair, a tourist exclaims, "Wow!" with reverence.

August 5 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the legendary sex symbol from an overdose of barbiturates.

Fans are honoring the pop icon in a number of ways, including this bus tour tracing her path through "Tinsel Town" to, among other landmarks, this one-time Hollywood Boulevard hairdresser -- now a cheap souvenir shop.

Guide Elisa Jordan, 37, says she aims to show fans how intertwined Monroe's life was with the city -- "she's part of" Los Angeles, Jordan said.

But Monroe's childhood in the city of angels was anything but heavenly, a fact showcased in the $60, four-hour bus tour, which brings tourists to the school where Monroe, then Norma Jeane Mortenson, was made fun of, and to one of the orphanages where she grew up.

"When Norma Jean sees 'Orphanage' at the entrance, she begins to cry and say I'm not an orphan, I have a mother, please don't leave me here," Jordan recounts.

The star of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953) and "How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953) -- who took the Marilyn moniker when she started in show business -- grew up in Los Angeles in the 20s and 30s, explained Jordan, owner of LAwomantours.com and a life-long Monroe fan.

"When she's growing up, there's really not much here, but it's growing," Jordan told AFP of the then-developing city of aspiring movie personalities.

The tour is also a way to show off the culture and history of southern California, something "people don't think there is a lot of," she laments.

Jordan's Monroe excursion kicks off at the Hollywood Museum, where the world's greatest collections of Marilyn memorabilia is being showcased at an exhibition that runs until September.

Other commemorations of the star's death include a lunch in the 20th Century Fox commissary, where organizers say "Marilyn and all the Fox stars ate while making movies," and a pool party for fans from around the world.

Jordan ends her tour at Monroe's Brentwood home -- or at least by the gray ivy-covered gate at its entrance.

This is where the buxom beauty died 50 years ago, from an overdose of sleeping pills, at just 36 years old.

"People ask me why I'm so obsessed with Marilyn Monroe," Jordan tells her mostly-female audience at the end of the tour.

"Well," she says and pauses, it's because "if an orphan can grow up to be the most famous woman in the world, then we can be anything."

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