Marilyn Monroe died 60 years ago this week — Aug. 5, 1962, to be exact. It’s hard to imagine it was so long ago given how influential the award winning actress remains.
Earlier this year, she was digitally reimagined for China’s fashion mag CF, and Netflix is about to release a biopic based on her life called “Blonde,” based on the novel of the same name written by Joyce Carol Oates published back in 2000.
Of course, each year on the anniversary of her death, a “news of the weird” story tends to pop up as well: Richard Poncher, a wealthy California man bought the tomb above Monroe’s at some point before his death in 1986, and asked to be buried “face down” — that is “lying on top” of the bombshell actress and model.
It may have been intended as funny by Poncher, but after a lifetime of indignities suffered by the actress — most often at the hands of men — it just feels insulting to a lot of folks. When Poncher’s wife put his tomb up for sale several years ago, she was asking $4.5 million in an eBay auction and got it, though the buyer later reneged on the purchase. It seems Poncher is still there today, though, riding the actress’s fame well into his afterlife.
And of course, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is buried right next to her (her unauthorized photos were used to launch the magazine, and he felt a special connection to her — no word from Monroe if the feeling was mutual).
So what does all of this have to do with Monroe slipping off this mortal coil?
Even in death she is a trendsetter — the visiting of celebrity graves in America started in no small part with her. Her gravesite – located in crypt number 24 in the “Corridor of Memories” at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles — is visited by tourists from around the world who leave lipstick kisses on the gravestone. (The red roses that her husband Joe DiMaggio used to send stopped appearing after he died).
After her death, dozens of famous people were buried in this location.
Celebrities who share a cemetery
Because there is a finite amount of land, and infinite amount of dead people, burial plots in this and many other cemeteries started being sold or flipped like real estate in the 1980s. That plot that you bought for $1500 back in 1976 for your aunt might be next to someone famous and worth hundreds of thousands—or even millions— of dollars to the right buyer.
Yes, Monroe sparked the beginning of final resting places becoming tourist attractions. After Monroe, other celebrities began buying plots in the now famous cemetery where dozens of famous and infamous people reside forevermore.
Here, we look at some of Monroe’s most notable neighbors in the afterlife:
Eve Arden (1908–1990), actress, comedian. Died November 12, 1990. Started her career on Broadway; best known for her roles in “Mildred Pierce” and “Grease.”
Ray Bradbury (1920–2012), author, Died June 5, 2012. Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 about book burning and other science fiction classics.
Fanny Brice (1891–1951), actress, comedian, singer. Died on May 29, 1951 of a cerebral hemorrhage. Brice was the inspiration for the movie “Funny Girl,” in which she was portrayed by Barbara Streisand.
Truman Capote (1924–1984), author, In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Died Aug. 25, 1984 of liver disease and a drug overdose. Capote’s ashes are also in Crooked Pond, New York.
Karen Carpenter (1950-1983), singer, drummer of The Carpenters. Died of heart failure due to anorexia nervosa, Feb. 4, 1983.
Jackie Collins (1937–2015), famed British romance novelist, screenwriter and producer. Wrote bestselling novel, Hollywood Wives. Sister of “Dynasty” star Joan Collins. Died Sept. 19, 2015 of breast cancer.
Rodney Dangerfield (1921–2004), comedian, actor. The comedian behind the catchphrase, “Can’t get no respect,” from his Grammy-winning album No Respect. Died from surgery complications, Oct. 4, 2004.
Kirk Douglas (1916–2020), actor. The father of actor Michael Douglas, the elder Douglas was awarded an honorary Academy award for lifetime achievement before his death, Feb. 5, 2020, at the age of 103.
Farrah Fawcett (1947–2009), actress, best known for the original TV series, Charlie’s Angels, and signature feathered blonde hair. Died June 25, 2009 of cancer.
Eva Gabor (1919–1995), actress. Hungarian-born actress and socialite who starred in the popular TV sitcom, Green Acres; sister to Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor. She is buried a few feet away from her Acres co-star Eddie Albert.
Merv Griffin (1925–2007), producer, television host, and singer. Creator of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, and host of The Merv Griffin Show. Died Aug. 12, 2007, of prostate cancer.
Hugh Hefner (1926–2017), Playboy magazine founder and publisher. Hefner is buried next to Marilyn Monroe, whose unauthorized images he used to launch the magazine. Died, Sept. 27, 2017.
Florence Henderson (1934–2016), actress, singer and television host. Best known as the mother, Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch, Henderson also starred on Broadway productions. Died of heart failure November 24, 2016.
Don Knotts (1924–2006), actor and comedian. Five-time Emmy winner for his most famous role was Barney Fife on the “Andy Griffith Show” in the 1960s; he had a comeback as lecherous landlord Ralph Furley on “Three’s Company” in the 1970s. Died Feb. 24, 2006.
Burt Lancaster (1913–1994), actor. Popular early Hollywood star; won Best Actor at the Academy Awards in 1960 for the title role in “Elmer Gantry.” Died Oct. 20, 1994.
Janet Leigh (1927–2004), actress. Though she’d had modest success in the 1950s, she is most famous for her part Hitchcock’s Psycho. Her daughter is actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Died October 3, 2004.
Dean Martin (1917–1995), actor and singer, known as the “King of Cool” and member of the Las Vegas “Rat Pack” with Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. Died Dec. 25, 1995, of smoking-related emphysema.
Roy Orbison (1936–1988), singer, best known for a falsetto voice on hit songs like “Oh, Pretty Woman,” and “Crying,” Orbison died Dec. 6, 1988. His grave is unmarked at the famous cemetery.
Bettie Page (1923–2008), model and pinup queen. Known for her risqué photos and her blunt-cut, black bangs, Page was an early Playboy Playmate of the month. Died Dec. 11, 2008, at age 85.
Buddy Rich (1917–1987), drummer, bandleader. Jazz drummer considered one of the greatest; played with Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, and Artie Shaw. He played till the end of his life. Died April 2, 1987, of causes related to a malignant brain tumor.
Minnie Riperton (1947–1979), singer with a four-octave range, known for “Lovin’ You.” She is the mother of actress/comedian Maya Rudolph. Her gravestone reads: “Lovin’ you is easy ’cause you’re beautiful.” Died July 12, 1979 of breast cancer.
George C. Scott
George C. Scott (1927–1999), actor. Famous for tough guy roles; most notable films include Dr. Strangelove and Patton. Refused his Best Actor award for Patton on the grounds that art can’t be judged. His grave is unmarked. Died September 22, 1999.
Carl Wilson (1946–1998), singer and co-founder of The Beach Boys, lead guitarist and lead backup, he also sang lead on one of their biggest hits, “Good Vibrations.” His grave reads: “The Heart and Voice of an Angel. The World is a Far Lesser Place Without You.” Died, of lung cancer on Feb. 6, 1998.
Natalie Wood (1938–1981), actress. Wood’s career started as a child in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street,” and continued into her teens and adulthood, with roles in “Rebel Without a Cause” and “West Side Story,” before her mysterious death off a boat off the coast of Santa Catalina Island on Nov. 29, 1981. Ruled a drowning, the case is still open, and her husband at the time, Robert Wagner, remains a person-of-interest.
Frank Zappa (1940–1993), composer, musician, satirist, leader of The Mothers of Invention. You won’t find Frank’s remains at the cemetery—though they are there. In typical nonconformist Zappa fashion, his grave is unmarked. Died Dec. 4, 1993, of prostate cancer.