Fans Pay Tribute To Film Goddess On 25th Anniversary Of Death
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Hundreds of Marilyn Monroe’s friends and fans paid tribute to the movie goddess Wednesday on the 25th anniversary of her death, hailing her as a legend assured of immortality.
″Even though 25 years have passed since that tragic day, Marilyn’s spirit continues to live,″ said Greg Schreiner, president of a group called Marilyn Remembered, which organized the memorial service at the tiny cemetery where she was buried.
Bowers of floral tributes banked the simple crypt at Westwood Village Memorial Park.
In a crowded chapel, with standing room only, some of those who knew Miss Monroe recalled her glittering life and death at age 36 of a drug overdose on Aug. 5, 1962.
Maurice Zolotow, who wrote the first biography of Miss Monroe in 1960, recalled being awakened by a phone call from a reporter with the news that Marilyn Monroe was dead.
″I just didn’t believe it,″ he said, noting that the actress seemed to symbolize life.
″There was something about her,″ he recalled. ″Her screen presence. A haunting innocence combined with an overpowering voluptuousness. It was unique.″
He and others recalled the troubled childhood and searching life of the woman who was born Norma Jeane Mortenson.
″Marilyn Monroe was a restless, unquiet spirit, one of those artists condemned to solitude by the gift God gave her,″ said Zolotow.
He expressed the hope that ″she has found the peace in another world that she could not find while alive.″
In an emotional climax to the nearly one-hour service, which featured a song Schreiner wrote for Miss Monroe, actress Susan Strasberg wept as she read a eulogy written by her father, acting coach Lee Strasberg, for Miss Monroe’s funeral.
″She had a luminous quality, a combination of radiance, yearning, that set her apart,″ said the eulogy. ″I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes.″
Miss Strasberg concluded by quoting the actress.
″She would always say before she went before the cameras, ’Hold a good thought for me.‴ Miss Strasberg recalled. ″I think she would be very pleased that you and millions of other people are holding a good thought for her.″
The crowd that flocked to the cemetery included a few who knew Miss Monroe, including Eleanor Vallee, widow of Rudy Vallee, and a woman who doubled for Miss Monroe in the movies. But most were fans, many born after the actress died, some from far away.
Neil Rodgers, an engineer, came from Sheffield, England.
″I was born in the same year that Marilyn died,″ he said. ″It’s an important year for me too. I couldn’t think of a better time to come to the States to see this.″
Yvonne DeBoer, 24, said she made her pilgrimage from Dayton, Ohio. For the occasion she wore a white halter dress similar to the one worn by Miss Monroe in ″The Seven Year Itch.″
There were also several Marilyn Monroe look-alikes, including one who goes by the single name ″Marilyn.″
″I’ve looked like this all my life,″ said the buxom woman with cotton- candy hair. ″I can’t think of anyone it would be more fun to look like.″
Members of the Marilyn Remembered group and an international fan club called Marilyn Forever wore T-shirts emblazed with the actress’ picture and her first name.
Across the city, various other tributes were held, including an auction of hundreds of photographs of the screen goddess for the benefit of AIDS research.
Photographer George Barris, who was the last to photograph Miss Monroe, and has published a book about her, expressed the sentiments of many at the photo show.
″She was so gentle, so fragile, so talented. ... You had to fall in love with her,″ he said.