Although she's been gone for more than 50 years, there has never been anyone like Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Baker in 1926, was an American success story. She touched so many not only because of her wonderful films, that to this day still make us laugh or think, but because she was heart wrenchingly human. She was the woman everyone rooted for, who despite all of her fame, found true happiness elusive. Her spirit, determination and talent continues to inspire so many people around the world. She is a true icon.

Marilyn was born, grew up, and spent most of her life in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California. For the Marilyn fan coming to Los Angeles, visiting some of Marilyn's places is a thrill. Here are my Top 5 Marilyn Monroe related sighs in Los Angeles:

1) Hollygrove Orphanage

815 N El Centro Avenue

One block east of Vine Street between Melrose and Santa Monica you will find the fabled home of a young "orphan" named Norma Jeane Baker, aka Marilyn Monroe, who lived here between 1935 - 1937. She married Jim Dougherty at the age of 16 to avoid returning to this place. Her room had a window that faced the RKO Studio (now part of the Paramount Studios lot) water tower and she allegedly dreamed of being a movie star. This orphanage is still in operation. It looks a bit different than it did back then, but it's very interesting to see just how close it is to the Paramount lot. You can imagine a young, lonely little girl looking out a window and dreaming of being a Hollywood star!


2) Rainbow Bar & Grill (used to be the Villa Nova)

9015 Sunset Boulevard

Hollywood history was made here in 1952 when famous baseball player Joe DiMaggio had dinner with Marilyn Monroe for the first time at the Villa Nova Italian restaurant. It was a blind date. They had a spaghetti dinner in a booth at the very back of the restaurant, table 14, and this booth still exists today. Outside the restaurant is a tile with Marilyn's likeness on the ground. There is a written account of this night on the wall next to the hostess station at what is now the Rainbow Bar & Grill. The Rainbow is a very famous rock bar frequented by Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, Guns n' Roses and major band of the 1970s and 1980s. It's in fact a time machine, where you will always hear 80s hair music and see people dressed from the era too. It is also a good restaurant with delicious food. Ask the host or hostess about Marilyn and Joe's date, and if they are not too busy, they will happily point out the table and the account of what happened that night.

3) Joe and Marilyn House

508 North Palm Avenue, Beverly Hills

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were not married for very long, but during their brief marriage they kept home at this cute little place on North Palm Avenue in Beverly Hills. It's very easy to see it from the street and imagine the two of them living there. On October 6, 1954 this house became the focus of national attention when Marilyn stepped outside the front lawn with her lawyer to announce she was seeking a divorce after only nine months of marriage.

4) Grauman's Chinese Theater

6925 Hollywood Boulevard

This is one of my favorite stops, try to fit your hands and feet into those of Marilyn's at Grauman's Chinese Theater. On June 26, 1956, Marilyn and her co-star Jane Russell were immortalized in concrete after the making of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. This is a must see!

5) Marilyn Rests Eternally at Westwood Cemetery

1218 Glendon Avenue, Westwood

This is a must-stop for all Marilyn fans to pay their final respects. Marilyn's funeral took place at the chapel here at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery on August 8, 1962. It was attended by Joe DiMaggio and just a few others who he allegedly selected. She was placed above ground and her marker just reads "Marilyn Monroe 1926-1962". Supposedly, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner bought the crypt next to her. This cemetery is small, and it is not hard to find her crypt. Park on the side streets, but watch for towing restrictions. They are fierce here. To be safe, you may want to park in the pay lot right next door. This is an odd cemetery as there are skyscrapers all around it, it seems like an unusual plot of land.