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Marilyn Monroe’s Catalina House

Aug 28th, 2009 | By | Category: Marilyn Monroe Locations

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The most important item on my Catalina Island stalking list was the home where a very young Marilyn Monroe lived with her first husband James Dougherty during the years 1943 to 1944.  This was long before Miss Monroe became a Hollywood icon and household name, back when she was just a girl who was known simply as Norma Jeane Baker.  Norma married James in 1942 at the tender ago of 16.  Yes, you read that right – 16!!!  The family who was taking care of her at the time was moving out of state and rather than take Norma with them, opted to basically marry her off to one of the neighbor boys.  After only one short year of marriage, James was shipped off to Catalina Island to begin his basic training with the Merchant Marines.  Marilyn moved to Catalina with him and remained on the island for about a year and a half.  So, as you can probably imagine, I was absolutely busting at the seams to find her former home – a task that proved to be much easier than I had anticipated. 

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While waiting at the Catalina Island taxi station yesterday, I happened to notice a flyer for a movie called Hollywood’s Magical Island: Catalina with a picture of Marilyn on it posted on a wall.  So, of course, I just had to ask the taxi operator if he knew anything about the movie, which he, sadly, didn’t.  So, I said, “Shoot!  I was hoping it might have information about where Marilyn’s Catalina house was located.”  Well, lo and behold, the cab operator got this funny look on his face and said “I know where her house is – it’s at 310 Metropole Avenue!”  I totally thought the guy was pulling my leg, as what would be the odds that the very first person I ask about her house would know its exact location???  Well, I must have some seriously good stalking karma because the guy really did know the correct address.  He told me that just about a year ago a Japanese film crew had descended on the island to make a documentary about the starlet and they actually filmed part of it at her house!  Turns out the taxi guy knew the location, because it’s located just three blocks up the street from his little taxi stand and he saw the filming!   Honestly, what are the odds?????  :) 

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So, of course, I immediately dragged my parents and my fiance right up the street to stalk Marilyn’s former residence.  :)  Marilyn’s house is an adorable little beach bungalow that looks pretty much exactly like I pictured it would!  So darn cute!!!!  The home is actually a duplex, I believe, rather than a single family residence, as there seem to be two separate front doors, as you can see in the above photograph.

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But, being the overly-anal person that I am, I just had to ask around town for further verification that the house I had just stalked was definitely Marilyn’s former home.  I hate putting information on my blog unless I know with absolutely certainty that that information is correct.  And all I had to go on for this one was the word of a random cab operator.  So, I wanted further verification.    Well, as it turns out there are COUNTLESS stories floating around out there as to where the starlet’s former house is located.  While most locals I talked to had no idea that Marilyn had even lived on the island LOL LOL LOL, those few that did had differing stories.  I heard everything from “She lived somewhere on Whitley Avenue” to “No, no, no, her house is on Descanso Avenue between Beacon and Third Streets” to “Marilyn Monroe lived here?  Are you sure?”   And that last one came from a guy who WORKS AT THE CATALINA ISLAND MUSEUM!  LOL LOL LOL  Needless to say I was just a tad bit frustrated over all of the differing theories.  I mean, come on people!  This is Catalina history!  Someone  should know where MM lived!!!!  Finally, I ended up locating two different books about the history of the island, both of which said Marilyn’s former home was located on Metropole Avenue – just like the cab guy had said!  :)  So, while I can’t say with absolute certainty that Marilyn Monroe did at one time live at 310 Metropole Avenue on Catalina Island, I am going to go out on a limb here and trust the word of two history books, a local taxi operator, and a Japanese film crew.  :)

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: Marilyn Monroe’s Catalina house is (most likely) located at 310 Metropole Avenue in Avalon.

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17 comments

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  1. Larry says:

    I don’t think that the two doors off the porch are two separate apartments.
    The door off the steps is the main door to the first floor.
    The side door is a door off a kitchen which lets people exit to sit on the porch which was all common back in the 1930s, 1940s, and even up into the 1950s before homes were being built without porches.
    The side view of the house with a door on street level was most likely the basement apartment and the separate entrance created for the occupant.

  2. Geri day says:

    I’m def going today! I was married on the island, love MM and my Facebook friend told me MM lived next to her grandparents and that’s what got me started! So fun!

    Thank you for your tireless efforts! :)

  3. Miss araceli says:

    How do I delete this account?

  4. MISS ARACELI says:

    Hello, I’ll be going to Catalina on June 14. What’s the address of Norma Jeane’s house where she grew up? Not where she was married. I heard her house was up a hill on Whitney street. I would love to see her house.

  5. vanessa says:

    is it up on the market?

  6. Michelle says:

    I am pretty sure James and Norma lived in an apartment on Metropole, not in a house.
    I found this to back up my thoughts:
    http://www.presstelegram.com/portlet/article/html/imageDisplay.jsp?contentItemRelationshipId=3720330
    Catalina Island Museum curator Jeannine Pedersen shows the third-floor apartment on Metropole Ave. where she believes Norma Jean and James Dougherty lived in 1943, April 19, 2011. Before she was Marilyn Monroe, 16-year-old Norma Jeane Baker chose to marry James Dougherty rather than return to an orphanage. They spent 1943 in Avalon, where he was in the Merchant Marine. The Catalina Museum is reconstructing one of the most important years in Monroe’s life in letters, rare photos and research. The show is titled “Before she was Marilyn: Marilyn Monroe on Catalina Island”. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Allen J. Schaben)

    • greg sailor says:

      The house is in the picture is the house she lived in , on Metropole, across from the pink hotel.

    • Erin says:

      She lived on the third floor of the “White House Apartments” on the corner of Beacon and Metropole. I know this because this building was built by my great-grandparents in 1922, and is still owned by my family.
      Hope this info helps!!

  7. noli star says:

    thanks for the info, roger. i will be in avalon on june 1 marilyn’s birthday and i will check the place out myself. i will also visit the white house apartment next to it.

  8. Roger says:

    My uncle (now in his 80’s) has owned this house since the mid-60’s. I showed him this blog, and here is his reply:

    “Hi Roger,
    I hate to be a kill-joy, but Marilyn Monroe lived next door, (down the hill), in an apartment on the top floor of the White House Apartments. I got this from Louie Cameron, the son of the owner, who rented apartments to the Maritime trainees during the war. Louie is a little younger than I. Marilyn is still big in Japan and the part about the Japanese film crew is probably true because I’ve seen Travel groups across the street taking pictures of our place. They just had the wrong place. Oh well!!”

    Best wishes in your “stalking.”

    • Lindsay says:

      Hi Roger,
      Thank you SO much for letting me know! This insider information definitely clarifies things!! I’ll have to stalk the place next time I visit Catalina. :)

      – Lindsay

    • Erin says:

      So great that I’ve stumbled upon this blog! Louie Cameron was my mothers uncle. My mom grew up in that apartment house, and I’ve spent many summers living in those third floor apartments :)

  9. William A. Gordon says:

    Great detective work, Lindsay. You found something that no Marilyn biographer ever found.

    Bill

  10. Erin says:

    Such a pretty little house. I can picture a young Norma Jean living there.

    • Lindsay says:

      I know!!!! Me, too! :)

      • MJ Maxwell says:

        Lindsay, I live at 310 Metropole Upper. There are documented photos of Marilyn on the porch here (as presented by Japanese tourists!). The post by Roger is certainly accurate if his uncle (my landlord) said so! The museum however does show 310 as her residence….


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