Bing Crosby’s Palm Springs Estate – Linked to Marilyn and JFK – for Sale

The Southern California estate formerly owned by singer Bing Crosby – in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs – is back on the market for $4.5 million, Yahoo reports. It was previously listed for sale in 2013, and again in 2018.

Predictably, the realtors have highlighted the property’s connection to Marilyn and President John F. Kennedy, who stayed there during the Democratic National Convention in March 1962. A framed photo of Marilyn in a revealing negligee (taken in New York during filming of The Seven Year Itch, eight years before) can be glimpsed in one of the bedrooms.

“While there are several ensuite guest spaces to enjoy, loved ones can enjoy a juicy piece of pop culture history by staying in the infamous ‘JFK Wing’ on the opposite side of the residence where he and Marilyn Monroe stayed on several occasions,” the article states. This is incorrect, as they only visited once. In fact, this weekend was perhaps the sole occasion when we can be reasonably certain that the alleged lovers both stayed in the same place.

Author Gary Vitacco Robles gave a detailed account of the trip in the second volume of his excellent  biography, Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe.

“Before reaching the tranquil desert atmosphere of Palm Springs, Air Force One touched down in California on March 23. President Kennedy met with bio-defence scientists at the Radiation Lab at the University of California at Berkeley. He also visited Vandenberg Air Base … The following morning, Marilyn arrived at the Greenson home [in Los Angeles] to wash her hair in their guest bath. She explained that plumbers were installing a new water heater in her hacienda, and she needed to be ready for Peter Lawford to take her to Palm Springs to meet the President. Greenson [her psychiatrist] worried about his patient setting herself up for being hurt and exploited by another selfish man. It is also possible that Marilyn’s arrival at Greenson’s home may have served as an excuse to flaunt her recklessness and solicit his protection.

In Palm Springs, the president spent fifty minutes visiting with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Crosby estate … According to Eunice Murray [Marilyn’s housekeeper], while the current and former presidents discussed world affairs, Peter Lawford arrived at Marilyn’s hacienda to escort her to Crosby’s estate where, after Eisenhower’s departure, she would be sequestered in a secluded detached guest cottage…

In the early evening, the president hosted an exclusive formal dinner in Crosby’s sprawling 6,700-square-foot estate in Thunderbird Heights, a private community in Rancho Mirage. Philip Watson, former Los Angeles county assessor, told [Monroe biographer] Anthony Summers the president and Marilyn appeared together in public as a couple during the less formal reception at the cottage and outside on the terrace … ‘There were a lot of people poolside, and some people were wandering in and out …’ Watson recalled. ‘Marilyn was there and the president was there and they were obviously together. There was no doubt in my mind that they were having a good time …’

‘[Marilyn] was delightful, a little bit nervous perhaps,’ recalled Peter Summers, a Kennedy political strategist who handled relations with the television networks, ‘but I think her nervousness was because she was in a new territory with people who were political animals. She wasn’t totally at ease. I did feel that she was impressed by Kennedy’s charm and charisma, that she was almost starry-eyed … But she was totally able to hold her own conversationally; she was very bright.’

Later that night, Ralph Roberts [her masseur] received a phone call from Marilyn. He alleged she called directly from the bedroom she shared with the president in Palm Springs. Without disclosing a name, Marilyn told Roberts that a companion in her presence was suffering from back pain … Allegedly, the president took the phone from Marilyn’s hand and, in his Bostonian accent, personally thanked Roberts for his time. ‘Of course, I didn’t reveal that I knew who he was,’ Roberts would say, ‘and he didn’t say.’

After returning home on Sunday, Marilyn called Roberts and confirmed that her Bostonian companion was indeed the leader of the free world … Marilyn told Roberts this was the only time she had an affair with the president and gave an impression that it had not been a significant episode for either of them. ‘Of course she was titillated beyond belief, because for a year he had been trying, through Lawford, to have an evening with her,’ Roberts would tell [Monroe biographer] Donald Spoto. ‘A great many people thought, after that weekend, that there was more to it … it happened once, that weekend, and that was it …’

Bing Crosby later named his 1400 square foot master bedroom the Kennedy Suite in honour of the president’s visit. The estate is now a rental property boasting as the site of likely the only tryst between the president and the actress.”