‘Forever Marilyn’ statue is returning to Palm Springs, but not all residents are happy

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When “Forever Marilyn” was last in Palm Springs, the statue had a primo downtown location at the intersection of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way. Since departing in 2014, the once open lot that was unofficially dubbed “the Marilyn park” has been turned into the Kimpton Rowan Hotel. Photo by Fred Miller (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A big, brash, 26-foot tall blonde is coming to Palm Springs, and she’s causing a stir before getting to town. Seward Johnson’s 2011 sculpture “Forever Marilyn” depicts the truly iconic Marilyn Monroe mid-subway breeze from that famous scene in “The Seven Year Itch” — face smiling with rapture and white skirt billowing upwards. 

The statue passed through Palm Springs almost a decade ago, but now a local tourism group has purchased “Forever Marilyn” for $1 million, meaning the desert will be her forever home. While many in town believe the towering statue is a perfect mix of kitsch and retro that jibes with Palm Springs’ mid-century vibe, some say a lot has changed since her 2012-2014 stint. 

One faction is taking issue with how the mighty Marilyn portrays women in the post #MeToo era, while another sect is legally fighting the statue’s temporary, three-year placement directly in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum.