Bing Crosby’s Palm Desert House – Where JFK Trysted with Marilyn MonroeJul 25th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: Marilyn Monroe Locations
Last month, shortly before I headed off to Switzerland, my dad loaned me the book Killing Kennedy, which he had just finished reading. Because there was a chapter devoted to my girl Miss Marilyn Monroe, he thought I might enjoy it. And enjoy it, I did. I could hardly put it down! The chapter about Marilyn focused on the starlet’s first – and most likely only – tryst with the president, which, according to the book, took place the weekend of March 24th, 1962 at the “Spanish-style home of show business legend Bing Crosby” in Palm Springs. Well, believe you me, once I read the words “Marilyn Monroe” and “Palm Springs”, I became hell-bent on tracking down and stalking that house. Unfortunately though, it proved to be quite the difficult find.
It seems that every book and website that mentions Marilyn’s encounter with JFK sets it at a different Palm Springs-area home of Bing Crosby’s (the crooner owned several desert houses over the course of his lifetime). Most claims state that the tryst took place at Bing’s Thunderbird Country Club residence, which is located at 70375 Calico Road in Rancho Mirage. A December 2012 NBC News article about the then for-sale property even stated, “If the Crosby angle isn’t enough of a celebrity real estate draw, one of the wings of the home is named the Kennedy wing for the presidential visitor that reportedly stayed for a weekend. ‘Robert Kennedy said that Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy stayed a weekend here, so our party named the wing after him,’ [real estate agent Carl] Mitrak explained.” After looking at aerial views of the home, though, and seeing that it was not at all Spanish in style, I became certain that, despite Mitrak’s claims, it was not the right place.
So I started digging further and came across a message board on the Crosby Fan World website on which Crosby biographer Malcolm MacFarlane commented that the Thunderbird Country Club house was, indeed, NOT the spot where Marilyn spent the weekend with JFK. Unfortunately though, no further information was given, so I was still uncertain as to where their encounter actually did take place. And, after stalking Bing’s first desert home at 1011 East El Alameda in Palm Springs (pictured below) and seeing how close it was to the street and neighboring properties and therefore difficult to secure, I quickly ruled it out, as well.
Then fate stepped in. This past Saturday, I happened to mention my quest to the Grim Cheaper’s boss and, amazingly enough, she had the answer for me! She informed me that Marilyn and JFK trysted at Bing Crosby’s Palm Desert estate in Ironwood Country Club. And, as luck would have it, she owns a home inside of the community, which is gated, and granted me access that very afternoon. As you can imagine, I was beyond floored! Unfortunately though, not much of the place, outside of its front gate, is visible from the street.
When I returned home later that day, I did further research and was able to verify that the Ironwood house was indeed the correct spot. As you can see below, the sprawling residence is definitely Spanish in style. You can check out a postcard of what the property looked like back in Bing’s day here.
In the biography Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years, author Keith Badman states “The fact is that Marilyn was intimate with John F. Kennedy only once, during the evening of Saturday 24 March 1962, when both he and the screen actress were guests at singer Bing Crosby’s three-bedroom house in Palm Springs and the adjoining, remote conclave home belonging to songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen and writer Bill Morrow. The houses, situated in a tiny community 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, stood against a mountain in Palm Desert at a place called Silver Spur and were situated up a single dirt thoroughfare named Van Heusen Road. They had been a favourite of former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his men during his tenure.”
To further verify Badman’s claims, according to Peter Lawford (as quoted in the Sinatra biography His Way by Kitty Kelley), while JFK and Marilyn stayed at Bing’s pad, the secret service stayed next door at Jimmy Van Heusen’s abode. That house is located at 49300 Della Robbia Lane and is denoted with a pink arrow below. You can check out a 1960s-era photograph of both Bing and Van Heusen’s properties here.
The Silver Spur area was later absorbed by Ironwood Country Club. A 2012 MyDesert.com article states, “Bing Crosby’s estate that was initially part of neighboring Silver Spur Ranch is now part of Ironwood.”
Today, the property, which was recently remodeled and is currently available as a vacation rental, boasts a three-bedroom main house, two guest casitas with two bedrooms each, 2.5 acres of land, a saltwater pool, a Jacuzzi, a fully-lit tennis court, mountain views, and original Bing Crosby decor.
My favorite aspect of the property, though, has the be the sign outside which reads “The Crosby Estate.” LOVE IT!
I also love the fact that Ironwood embraced its celebrity history by naming two of the community’s streets “JFK Trail” and “Crosby Lane.” So incredibly cool!
And I was extremely excited to discover that the residence is also a filming location! In Season 1, Episode 7 of the reality series Hollywood Exes, the women spend the weekend at The Crosby Estate and discuss the fact that JFK and MM trysted there. Hollywood Exes is terrible by the way! I feel significantly dumber just from having scanned through it to make screen captures for this post!
The interior of the house was also shown in the episode.
As was the pool area.
And the property’s front gates.
For more stalking fun, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And you can check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic, here.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Bing Crosby’s former home, where Marilyn Monroe is said to have trysted with President Kennedy, is located at 49400 Della Robbia Lane in Palm Desert. The estate is located inside of Ironwood Country Club, a gated community, and is only accessible to residents and guests of residents, unfortunately. You can check out the property’s vacation rental website – with fabulous interior photographs – here.