Marilyn Monroe: Lawsuit Filed Over Her Demolished Home

A home that Marilyn Monroe once lived in was destroyed by Los Angeles demolition workers. Residents of San Fernando Valley have filed a lawsuit against the city. Angry residents say the city trampled state and local laws when the site was made available for the construction of condos.

The Dougherty House on Hermitage Avenue was razed in June, days before a Cultural Heritage Commission hearing on the case. Monroe’s home was set to be considered for landmark status.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer said that his staff was reviewing the complaint and could not comment further at this time. City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents the Valley Village area, said he was confident the proper decision was made. He declined to comment further on the issue.

Monroe lived at the home for one year. City officials said the house wasn’t significant enough to be named an official landmark. It didn’t have any distinguishing characteristics and the actress didn’t become a movie star until after she moved away.

The time Marilyn spent at the residence was not during the most productive years of her career. The group Save Valley Village denies that fact. In their lawsuit, they say the home captures the essence of Monroe’s life at a crucial point. They state that while Norma Jean was born at County Hospital in Lincoln Heights, the career of Marilyn Monroe — known to fans around the world — was born while she lived in the house.

Marilyn Monroe House
"A file photo of the house at 5258 Hermitage Avenue in Valley Village, CA . Marilyn Monroe once lived at the house. ( Photo by Jennifer Getz) ) "

As reported by Los Angeles Daily News, if an environmental review had been done, the home of Marilyn Monroe might have been relocated. Richard McNaughton, the attorney representing Save Valley Village, was matter-of-fact with his statement about the situation.

“The house was needlessly torn down.”

Marilyn Monroe was 17-years-old when she lived in the house. She worked as a parachute-inspector while her sailor husband was overseas. The destruction of the Monroe home comes after the demolition of Ray Bradbury’s home earlier in the year.

When the home of Marilyn Monroe was torn down, fans were shocked and devastated. Jennifer Getz, a fan who voted to have the home become a historical landmark, was outraged.

“I can’t even breathe. My neighbors and I are in mourning. It’s one of the biggest losses in the San Fernando Valley. I’m beyond outrage.”

In 1944, Marilyn, then known as Norma Jean Dougherty, moved into the home with her in-laws. Dougherty was picked to model for morale-boosting military magazines by a photographer sent by U.S. Army Captain Ronald Reagan. Her career took off, and she became an actress.

She moved out of the North Hollywood area house in the summer of 1945, would soon divorce Dougherty, and went on to become the iconic Marilyn Monroe.

Iconic Monroe
American actress Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Mortenson or Norma Jean Baker, 1926 - 1962). (Photo by Baron/Getty Images)

Save Valley Village organizers are convinced that the dealings to get Marilyn’s house razed were done behind closed doors. The home was merely days from a vote that could have possibly saved the home and made it a historical monument. The group contends that the city had overwhelming evidence that it should have taken more time and investigated deeper before the Hermitage Avenue home was torn down.

“If your hands are bound by a behind-the-scenes voting agreement, then obviously you’re not deliberating in public,” said Richard MacNaughton, attorney for the Save Valley Village group.

The Save Valley Village lawsuit seeks to roll back city approval for a five-unit condominium project being created by developer Joe Salem on the site of Marilyn Monroe’s home. Save Valley Village also wants to nullify any development projects that have gotten unanimous votes of over 99 percent approval in the past year.

The Valley Village project received a unanimous vote to demolish Marilyn’s home.

[Photos by Baron / Getty Images, Los Angeles Daily News]