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Above Marilyn Monroe’s Crypt a Man is Buried Face-Down

Taryn Smee

Marilyn Monroe died tragically at the age of 36, leaving behind an enduring legend that has made her a beloved figure and timeless icon. The same cannot be said for Richard Poncher.

Little is known about Poncher — by all accounts, he was a successful businessman and entrepreneur who provided for his family and lived until the grand age of 81.

The L.A. Times reports that he met his wife Elsie when they were living in Chicago, and he once built two bullet-proof cars for Al Capone. Although he had mob connections, his widow goes on to say in the same L.A. Times article, “He wasn’t afraid to tackle anything. Besides that, he was a helluva nice guy.”

Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe.

The story goes that back in 1954, when Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn were going through their divorce, the Ponchers met DiMaggio at the Regency Hotel in New York and it was decided to buy the crypt above Marilyn situated in Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

Monroe’s crypt, Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, Los Angeles, CA.

Monroe’s crypt, Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, Los Angeles, CA.

It’s not clear whether Richard Poncher was a Marilyn fan at the time of purchase, but by the end of his life in 1986 he had apparently been bitten by Marilyn fever and had a rather unusual last request.

Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

Poncher’s widow, Elsie, recounts her husbands last request to the L.A. Times, “He said, ‘If I croak, if you don’t put me upside down over Marilyn, I’ll haunt you the rest of my life.’ ”

Marilyn Monroe’s grave as of September, 1990 – Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery. Photo by Alan Light CC By 2.0

Marilyn Monroe’s grave as of September, 1990 – Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery. Photo by Alan Light CC By 2.0

That’s right, Richard Poncher requested to be buried face down over Marilyn Monroe. Elsie Poncher goes onto to report that this is exactly what happened. At his funeral she informed the funeral director of his last wish and when the ceremony ended, as told to the L.A. Times, “I was standing right there, and he turned him over.”

Marilyn Monroe Iconic Quotes

The story made an international stir in 2009 when Elsie put the crypt above Marilyn Monroe up for sale on eBay. Her reasons for the sale were financial; she wanted to pay off her mortgage and the sale almost went through for a record $4.6 million.

Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. Photo by Ben Churchill CC By 2.0

Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. Photo by Ben Churchill CC By 2.0

Unfortunately, this fell through, and Richard Poncher is still interred in the crypt above Marilyn. Elsie Poncher is now buried in the crypt next to him.

There has been recent more controversy surrounding Marilyn’s final resting place. Fans were saddened by the news that Hugh Hefner upon his passing in 2017, would be taking up his spot next to her.

Hefner in November 2010. Photo by Toglenn CC BY-SA 3.0

Hefner in November 2010. Photo by Toglenn CC BY-SA 3.0

He purchased the crypt in 1992 for $75,000 and is quoted in the L.A. Times as saying “I’m a believer in things symbolic. Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up.” He credits Monroe with launching the Playboy Empire by making her the first ‘Sweetheart of the Month,’ the forerunner to ‘Playmate of the Month.’

The photos caused controversy upon publication and nearly ruined Monroe’s career.

Monroe at the Actors Studio, where she began studying method acting.

Monroe at the Actors Studio, where she began studying method acting.

He later admitted that he did not seek permission for the use of the photos and that he and Marilyn had never met in person.

Read another story from us: Marilyn Monroe: the Bookworm who Fantasized about Sleeping with Albert Einstein

Other famous people laid to rest at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park include Natalie Wood, Dean Martin, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tom Petty, Frank Zappa, Truman Capote and Farrah Fawcett.