The Marilyn Monroe / Wizard of Oz Connection

26 Apr

by Cheri Sundra

There’s no place like home if you still like it hot at the Hotel Del Coronado! 

Hotel Del Coronado

Photo Credit: Keith Yahl

While many movies are filmed on location, only a few unions of celluloid and location are as legendary as the sight of Marilyn Monroe cavorting on the beach at the footsteps of The Del.  Add to that legend the fact that the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, did much of his writing at the hotel, even reportedly basing his designs for the fictional Emerald City on the Hotel del Coronado itself, and you have the stuff that creates movie magic right at your fingertips. 

Located in Coronado, California, just a short water-taxi or ferry ride across the bay from San Diego, the Hotel del Coronado is one of the last surviving examples of a Victorian-era wooden beach resort.  This beachfront luxury hotel was built in 1888 and was the first to use electric lighting.  Thomas Edison himself supervised the hotel’s wiring!  At that time, The Del was considered a splash of civilization to visitors traveling by dust-covered wagon or crowded railroad car through the untamed American West. 


More than a century has passed since the formal opening of the Hotel Del Coronado, but contemporary guests still see this grand lady of the sea as an escape where guests can experience the opulence of the Victorian era.  Many visitors are drawn to the hotel looking to encounter literary and cinema history. The hotel touches their imagination with whispers about the past in a visceral way that allows guests the opportunity to have a firsthand “Pop Culture Travel” experience. 

Some enthusiasts visit The Del seeking the fictional Land of Oz.  Author L. Frank Baum used to sit in a rattan rocking chair outside of the hotel’s majestic formal dining room, The Crown Room, contemplating the Pacific Ocean while writing three of the books from his Oz series:  Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Road to Oz and The Emerald City.  Baum even designed the crown-shaped chandeliers for that dining room, which were reportedly inspired by the crown worn by the lion in the Wizard of OZ.

According to the Heritage Department at the Hotel del Coronado, Baum’s habit was to work from early morning until noon because he generally spent the afternoon “in realizing that he is truly again at Coronado.”  It’s very easy to see why Baum found the hotel so enchanting and inspirational.  With its fanciful red roofs, magical spires and whimsical design, The Del is as close to the Emerald City that you can ever get in real life.

Land of OZ 2011

Photo Credit: Steven l. Youngblood

There is always a chance that you will find Dorothy singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the hotel’s television channel, that is when they are not running the comedy classic Some Like It Hot.  While filming on location at the hotel with co-stars Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe could frequently be seen walking The Del’s private beach.  The hotel isn’t exactly shy about letting people know that “Marilyn Monroe slept here”.

What is the  Marilyn Monroe /  Wizard of Oz connection?  Find out at Old Soul Swagger!

         Photo Credit:  Cheri Sundra

 Filmed in 1958, this cross dressing comedy was both co-written and directed by Billy Wilder. Regarded by critics as one of the finest movies ever made, Some Like It Hot was listed by the American Film Institute as the best comedy of the 20th Century.  The plot centers around two musicians, played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, who dress up in drag and join an all girls band to elude prohibition-era bootlegger gangsters after witnessing The Saint Valentine’s Day massacre in 1929.  Their characters become enamored of the band’s vocalist and ukulele player, Marilyn Monroe, and they struggle for her affection while trying to maintain their disguises.

The movie’s last line—“Nobody’s perfect”, delivered by actor Joe E. Brown after his love interest, the Jack Lemmon character, reveals that he is indeed a man and not a woman, was never intended to remain in the movie.  Fortunately, Wilder couldn’t come up with anything he liked better, so the line stayed.  Today, it is still regarded as a classic last line on par with “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”, which is fitting for this classic movie, filmed on location at a classic hotel which is also associated with classic children’s literature.  Wilder even gives a nod to the line in his epitaph  on his tombstone at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park in Hollywood, where he is ironically spending eternity with Some Like It Hot stars Marilyn Monroe  and Jack Lemmon   

To book your own classic vacation at the historic Hotel del Coronado, visit

Watch Tony Curtis as he revisits the Hotel del Coronado

For information about Visiting Dead Celebrities, Visit my Pop Culture Travel Blog Halloween Post

13 Responses to “The Marilyn Monroe / Wizard of Oz Connection”

  1. Br April 26, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Interesting info Cheri.

  2. Linda gold April 26, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Great shot very interesting info. Beautifuly presented.

    • R. Sterbank April 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

      Wonderful shot, Cheri! Fascinating information, as well,

  3. Steve April 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Once again…Great detail.. and information…..On a lifetime legend….Thanks for that ……

  4. Afterforty April 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    This is a really enticing description of a Hotel where I’ve stayed – it makes me want to visit, but… but… for your information, Amsterdam’s Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky was using electricity in 1883 – and has almost as much history.

  5. joe April 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    great info

  6. Shawn (Mars O) April 26, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Cheri – you’ve always got a well researched and interesting story to share that breathes life into these grande and historic places and times. I secretly suspect that you have a Delorean in your garage!

  7. Diana May 4, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    Well-researched!Now I want to go there!

  8. aumkleem May 16, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    Excellent blog! Wonderful information

  9. aumkleem May 16, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    Absolutely wonderfully well written travelogue…Great job!!!

  10. Dianna Bevevino May 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that i have really enjoyed reading your posts.

  11. Barnes Thomas May 21, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Loved the hotel when I stayed there. A magnificent place!

  12. Paul DeGollais August 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    For me the main disappointed was the historic Babcock and Story bar. When it opened the San Diego Tribune described it as “undoubtedly the largest and most elegantly appointed saloon on the coast.” Oh how times do change. The bar is still there, sadly competing with a fast food counter. The bar was famous for two signature cocktails – Klondike Bar and the Singapore Sling. The bartender told me he had never heard of the first and he didn’t have the ingredients for the second. ( a Singapore Sling!!!!!) This is the only bar I have visited in one of America’s historic hotels where they have not been able to serve a signature cocktail. I settled for a dry martini which was dreadful. Cheap vodka, insufficiently chilled and served in a greasy glass. One olive, no snacks offered.
    The setting of the hotel is magnificent and it looks great. It is just no longer a class act.

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