PALM SPRINGS — Happy Birthday, Marilyn Monroe. She may be gone but the blonde bombshell and her likeness hold a special place in the hearts of Palm Springs residents and tourists alike.
“Forever Marilyn,” a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe, was on display in Palm Springs from May 2012 to March 2014. She stood vigil at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way, the object of countless photographs. Now she is returning home amid backlash.
Many have taken issue with the “misogynist” statue, noting that visitors to the Palm Springs Art Museum, including young children, will be able to look directly up the statue’s skirt and see Monroe’s underwear.
A change.org petition, which has attracted more than 40,000 signatures, said the statue also helps portray Monroe as nothing more than a sex object.
She was a showstopper in life – and in death.
The 26-foot-tall 34,000-pound sculpture, manufactured of painted stainless steel and aluminum is a super-sized tribute to Marilyn Monroe’s iconic scene from Billy Wilder’s 1955 infidelity comedy, “The Seven-Year Itch.” The sculpture captures Monroe the instant a blast of air from a NYC subway grate raises her white dress.
“Palm Springs is undergoing a historic renaissance and ‘Forever Marilyn’ has been a tremendous tourism booster to our downtown,” former Mayor Steve Pougnet said at the time.
Marilyn Monroe had legendary ties to the desert city. She was “discovered” at Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club, was rumored to have frequented a Movie Colony estate known as “Sand Acre” with Joe DiMaggio, and owned a 50’s style home on Rose Avenue in the Las Palmas neighborhood.
Created and designed in 2011 by Seward Johnson, the statue has traveled throughout the United States taking up temporary residence in such cities as Chicago, Ill.; Stamford, Conn.; as well as in Australia.
“Forever Marilyn” was given a farewell sendoff during the Palm Springs Village Fest on March 27, 2014. It was then relocated to the 42-acre Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, N.J. as part of a 2014 retrospective honoring Seward Johnson. Due to its popularity, the statue remained on display at the GFS until September 2015, after the official end of the retrospective.
During the sculpture’s Palm Springs visit, P.S. Resorts organized several free public events around Forever Marilyn, including an outdoor Marilyn Monroe movie series, concerts by well-known tribute artists, a Marilyn Monroe birthday celebration and a look-alike contest.
The statue was then displayed in 2016 in Rosalind Park in the Australian city of Bendigo in connection with the Bendigo Art Gallery’s Marilyn Monroe exhibition.
In 2018, the statue was displayed at Latham Park in Stamford, Connecticut as part of a large public art exhibition honoring the works of Seward Johnson, according to Wikipedia. Thirty-six sculptures were placed throughout streets and parks in Downtown Stamford, with “Forever Marilyn” being the highlight of the exhibit. The statue sparked international controversy when it was placed in Stamford with complaints arising due to her appearing to flash her underwear at the First Congressional Church.
- Marilyn Monroe: Shutterstock