Palm Springs residents sue to remove 25-foot Marilyn Monroe statue
A 25-foot-tall statue of Marilyn Monroe towering over Palm Springs, which depicts the iconic scene from ‘The Seven-Year Itch’ in which her dress is blown up by a subway grate, has enraged residents who are fighting to have it removed.
The incensed group have argued that the Seward Johnson 2011 sculpture is a ‘sexist eyesore’ that blocks traffic and should be removed from its current position outside the Palm Springs Art Museum.
The scene from the 1955 comedy has been immortalized by the ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue but has been a source of discomfort for some because it prominently features the blonde bombshell’s underwear-clad backside.
California‘s Fourth District Court of Appeals overturned a motion to dismiss a lawsuit by the Committee to Relocate Marilyn which has been battling to remove the statue, according to Art Newspaper.
The lawsuit against the city argues that officials did not have the right to stop traffic on the street where the statue now stands.
A 25-foot-tall statue of Marilyn Monroe towering over Palm Springs, which depicts the iconic scene from ‘The Seven-Year Itch’ in which her dress is blown up by a subway grate, has enraged residents who are fighting to have it removed
Actress Marilyn Monroe is shown in a scene from her 1955 film ‘The Seven Year Itch’ in which her dress blows up because of air-gushing past a subway grate
Protesters gathered in front of the ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue in Palm Springs in 2021, many calling it ‘misogynistic’, while others were more concerned by its location
The piece was purchased for $1 million by the tourism agency PS Resorts in 2020 and later that year unanimously voted by city council to be moved outside the art museum for three years.
Court documents cited California Law and said that ‘enactments allow cities to temporarily close portions of streets for short-term events like holiday parades, neighborhood street fairs, and block parties.
‘Proceedings that generally last for hours, days, or perhaps as long as a few weeks,’ it states.
‘They do not vest cities with the expansive power to close public streets, for years on end, so statues or other semi-permanent works of art may be erected in the middle of those streets.’
The museum’s executive director, at the time the statue was erected, Louis Grachos said at the time that the artwork posed a moral challenge.
‘You come out of the museum and the first thing you’re going to see is a 26ft-tall Marilyn Monroe with her entire backside and underwear exposed,’ said Grachos.
‘What message does that send to our young people, our visitors and community to present a statue that objectifies women, is sexually charged and disrespectful?’
In 2021, protestors from the Women’s March Foundation echoed this sentiment calling the statue misogynistic and exploitative of the star who is said to have been discovered in Palm Springs.
Brook Thomas, 50, who has been living in the region for eight years said at the time that having the statue there was ‘absurd.’
‘It’s absurd that you’re going to leave the museum and see the backside of someone’s underpants from any era, regardless of who it is or what it is like,’ he said.
‘It’s you know, people have all kinds of issues with other things that they find obscene, but this you know, they think it’s acceptable.’
In 2021, protestors from the Women’s March Foundation echoed this sentiment calling the statue exploitative of the star who is said to have been discovered in Palm Springs
The 25-foot tall and 17-ton sculpture by artist Seward Johnson Atelier was displayed in 2021 in Palm Springs, but the return has drawn the ire of residents
Despite calls to remove the controversial statue towering over Palm Springs, some believe that it has been a drawcard for tourism
Retired artist Melissa Manson is among those who couldn’t see a problem.
‘I don’t think this offends anybody. I don’t think it’s misogynistic. I don’t think it exposes women to anything dangerous or uncomfortable,’ she said in the 2021 interview.
Chris Menrad, founder of the Committee to Relocate Marilyn, simply said at the time that the location itself is the problem.
‘The issue that the committee to relocate Marilyn has with the current location of the statue is that, it is placed in the middle of a new street that was created to open up our world famous Palm Springs Art Museum and connect it to our main street, which is Palm Canyon, just that direction,’ he said.
‘We have an issue with placing a large statue that is blocking that view on a quote unquote, temporary basis that everybody knows is not going to be temporary.’
Palm Springs resident John McDermott thought it would be great for business.
‘Everybody is ecstatic to have her back here, absolutely ecstatic. It’s good for the community, it’s good for the businesses. You know, this is going to be our Eiffel Tower. This is going to be the Eiffel Tower of Palm Springs,’ he said.
Much like the statue, the controversial scene it emulates caused a stir with Monroe and reportedly led to the Hollywood siren’s relationship with then-husband and Baseball superstar Joe DiMaggio to end.
Monroe had money, fame and critical acclaim, but what she wanted most was a man to love her.
DiMaggio first noticed Monroe after seeing some publicity shots of the starlet in March 1952 and decided to ask her for a date.
Although she was a dazzlingly beautiful movie star, at that time, he was by far the bigger celebrity.
Five thousand onlookers watched the filming of that shot, at one o’clock in the morning, with Monroe standing over a subway grate, her accordion-pleated skirt flying
Much like the statue, the controversial scene it emulated caused a stir
The Seven-Year Itch starred Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell, who reprised his stage role
His prowess on the baseball field earnt him a spot as a New York Yankee legend and made him one of America’s most revered sports athletes at the time – and despite retiring at the age of 36, because of injuries – he was still widely adored.
Monroe and DiMaggio set a date for March 8, a year later DiMaggio popped the question on New Year’s Eve 1953, the pair marrying quickly in a civil ceremony in San Francisco in 1954.
The Seven-Year Itch is a 1955 American romantic comedy film directed by Billy Wilder the famous scene shot in September 1954 at the height of Monroe and DiMaggio’s relationship.
DiMaggio’s jealous tendencies were well-reported at the time and following that iconic scene, in which Monroe’s dress flew up from a gust of wind, its claimed the baseball star ‘beat her up.’
He was smacking her around,’ said one of his closest friends, as seen in a book extract from The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli.
‘He didn’t seem too ashamed of it, either. He said that she brought the worst out in him, that he wasn’t usually that kind of man. He said she was spoiled and very self-centered and it drove him crazy.’
In the book, its claimed that DiMaggio ‘beat her up in their hotel room after he became incensed at the sexy, skirt-flying shoot’ for the film.
Five thousand onlookers watched the filming of that shot, at one in the morning, with Monroe standing over a subway grate, her accordion-pleated skirt flying.
Director Billy Wilder described the expression on DiMaggio’s face as: ‘The look of death’.
‘Even though Marilyn wore two pairs of pants for modesty, under the powerful Klieg lights the material became quite see-through,’ the book stated.
Monroe and DiMaggio married in a civil ceremony in San Francisco in 1954 but their relationship quickly disintegrated after filming of The Seven-Year Itch started
DiMaggio first noticed Monroe after seeing some publicity shots of the starlet in March 1952 and decided to ask her for a date
DiMaggio’s prowess on the baseball field earnt him a spot as a New York Yankee legend and made him one of America’s most revered sports athletes at the time
‘He rushed back to their hotel and waited for his wife. Then he took out his rage on her, slapping her around the room. The noise was so great that other hotel guests reported it to the hotel’s management, afraid that someone was getting badly hurt.’
On October 27, 1954, just nine months after her wedding, Marilyn stood before a judge and detailed her reasons for her divorce petition.
She said DiMaggio was ‘cold and indifferent’ to her and that days would go by when he wouldn’t speak to her. DiMaggio didn’t make an appearance and the divorce was granted.
The Seven-Year Itch starred Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell, who reprised his stage role.