Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

How Marilyn Monroe’s House Became Her ‘Fortress’ – and Her Place of Death

Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images

Marilyn Monroe occupied several residences throughout her life, but her home at 12305 5th Helena Drive in Los Angeles is by far the most infamous. Monroe moved into the Spanish-style Colonial Revival home in Hollywood’s exclusive Brentwood neighborhood in February 1962. Just six months later she would be found dead in the bedroom of her dream home, which was still cluttered with unpacked boxes.

It was the first house Marilyn actually owned

Marilyn Monroe’s house on Helena Drive was the 43rd home she had lived in, but the first she had ever actually owned herself. Putting down $77,500 (it sold for $7.25 million in 2017), Monroe purchased the home after her psychiatrist suggested she “put down some roots.” Still recovering from the recent divorce from her husband, celebrated playwright Arthur Miller, Monroe saw the home as a fresh start – something she could truly call her own.

Photos of Marilyn Monroe's former house in Brentwood, Los Angeles.
The front gate of Marilyn Monroe’s home at 12305 Helena Drive, Los Angeles, circa 1992. (Photo Credit: JGKlein / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Described by the actress as a “cute little Mexican-style house with eight rooms,” Marilyn made the home a “fortress where I can feel safe from the world.” Monroe welcomed the opportunity to decorate her dream home exactly how she imagined it, even traveling to Mexico to purchase tiles, furniture, and other fixtures to match the Spanish-style look of 12305 Helena.

With plenty of privacy, the home was surrounded by a wall and gates. Built in 1929, the single-story, two-bedroom home featured a red tile roof and adobe walls that are characteristic of the Spanish Colonial style. The home included a living room with a stunning blue-tiled fireplace, a sunroom, dining room, and a kitchen.

The pool and backyard of Marilyn Monroe's house
Marilyn Monroe’s pool and backyard at her Helena Drive home. (Photo Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images)

Marilyn’s spacious bedroom featured large windows that overlooked the grounds, which were complete with a swimming pool and groves of citrus trees. It was truly a peaceful escape from the drama and chaos of the paparazzi that followed Monroe in public. Unfortunately, the idyllic scenery of 12305 Helena would soon be overshadowed by the spectacle that was to come.

A tragic scene at Helena Drive

On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead inside the bedroom of her LA home. The actress was face down on the bed, gripping a telephone in one hand. Bottles of pills were littered around the room. They were prescribed by her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, to treat Monroe’s depression.

The coroner wheels Monroe's body out of her home where she was found dead in 1962
The dead body of Marylin Monroe leaving her home, 1962. (Photo Credit: Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images)

When Monroe’s housekeeper walked by her room in the early hours of August 5th and found the actress’s light still on, she tried to get inside the room to check on her. Finding the door locked, the housekeeper eventually called Dr. Greenson who gained entry into the room by breaking a window – only to find his patient unresponsive.

A man points to pill bottles on the table beside a bed in Marilyn Monroe's house
Empty pill bottles were found in Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom at the time of her death. (Photo Credit: Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images)

When LA police arrived on the scene, they would have been greeted with an ominous welcome by a tile beside the front door which read: “cursum perficio,” a Latin phrase that means “Here ends my journey.” Investigators began to draw their own conclusions about what happened to Monroe. Her death was officially ruled a suicide by lethal overdose after a deadly amount of sedatives were found in Monroe’s system during the autopsy.

Conspiracies swirled surrounding her death

Since Marilyn’s death, countless conspiracy theories have swirled surrounding possible foul play involved in the star’s passing. Some speculated that Monroe was murdered due to her involvement with John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, who feared she would out their love affair to the world. Monroe’s housekeeper Eunice Murray even revealed recently that Robert Kennedy had visited Monroe the evening before her death.

Marilyn Monroe's crypt
Monroe’s crypt in Westwood Memorial Park in Hollywood, California. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

More from us: How Much Would It Cost To Live in the Homes of These Old Hollywood Celebrities Today?

While fame ripped away a large portion of Monroe’s privacy and alienated her from society, her home was the one place she could be herself. She deeply valued having her own space away from the eyes of the world. In an interview with LIFE Magazine shortly before her death, Marilyn refused the photographer to take pictures of her home. “I don’t want everybody to see exactly where I live, what my sofa or my fireplace looks like,” she explained.

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

The Digital Dust Podcast