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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.