"Forever Marilyn" staying in Palm Springs until November


A 26-foot-tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe will stay in downtown Palm Springs until mid November, it was announced today.

The Santa Monica-based Sculpture Foundation, which owns the ``Forever Marilyn'' statue, granted the extension. The sculpture had been slated to depart Palm Springs in early September, according to the city and P.S. Resorts, a nonprofit started by local hoteliers to promote Palm Springs tourism.

``This is very exciting news for Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley, and the goal is to create even more events during the additional time Marilyn is here,'' said Aftab Dada, chairman of P.S. Resorts, which organized and helped fund the installation of ``Forever Marilyn.''

The sculpture, located on the corner of Tahquitz Canyon Way and Palm Canyon Drive, has drawn thousands of residents and visitors since its arrival in May 2012, according to the city and P.S. Resorts.

``Marilyn has become a Palm Springs icon that truly makes our city like no place else, and residents and visitors from all over the world love and appreciate her,'' said Mayor Steve Pougnet. ``I want to thank The Sculpture Foundation for partnering with us to keep her in town as long as possible.''

The statue was originally scheduled to remain in Palm Springs through June, then got an extension to September, then November.

``Palm Springs residents and visitors have delighted us with their creative embrace of the Forever Marilyn sculpture. The online posts, the many emails, events and celebrations, all have shown the foundation, and artist Seward Johnson, how a community can be inventive and enhance the experience of public art,'' said Paula Stoeke, director of The Sculpture Foundation.

Next year, the sculpture will be taken to Hamilton, N.J., for an exhibition and gala honoring Johnson at a sculpture park called Grounds For Sculpture, according to P.S. Resorts.

The sculpture is based on a photograph by Bruno Bernard taken during the 1955 filming of ``The Seven Year Itch.''

The 34,300-pound statue was unveiled in July 2011 on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and was shipped in pieces to Palm Springs in May 2012 and reassembled a week later. P.S. Resorts and local donors, restaurant owners, hoteliers and merchants helped pay the $78,000 installation cost.

Monroe reportedly was discovered in Palm Springs at Charlie Farrell's Racquet Club by talent agent Johnny Hyde in 1949. She spent time in Palm Springs in the 1950s with her then-husband, Baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, and eventually owned a home in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood in the early 1960s, according to P.S. Resorts.

A Marilyn Monroe look-alike contest is scheduled for Aug. 1 at Palm Springs' VillageFest, on Palm Canyon between Baristo and Amado roads. The deadline to enter is July 30. Information is posted at http://forevermarilynpslookalike.eventbrite.com. There is also a concert on Sept. 7 with Beach Boys and Beatles tribute bands.

The statue has also been the backdrop for a birthday party for Monroe featuring an Elton John tribute artist and screenings of Monroe's films.

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