1954: Wrong Door Raid
In November 1954, Marilyn Monroe was living along the Sunset Strip in the Brandon Arms Apartments at 8338 DeLongpre Ave. [map], recovering from her tumultuous divorce from baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. The marriage ended because DiMaggio had been physically abusive–the worst instance had happened earlier that year in New York after Marilyn filmed the iconic scene in “Seven Year Itch,” in which her skirt billowed up while she stood on a subway grate. After they divorced in October, DiMaggio remained so jealous that he hired Sunset Strip private detective Barney Ruditsky to keep tabs on her.
On the evening of Friday, Nov. 5, Marilyn drove her white Cadillac convertible to visit a friend who lived about eight blocks south in a three-unit apartment building in the southeast corner of Waring Avenue and Kilkea Drive. A little later, one of Ruditsky’s men spotted Marilyn’s Caddy parked on Waring and phoned it in. Ruditsky contacted DiMaggio who happened to be out drinking with Frank Sinatra. It seemed obvious to DiMaggio that his ex-wife was visiting one of her many lovers. He and Sinatra quickly hatched a cockamamie scheme to catch Marilyn in the arms of her paramour. Within the hour, they met Ruditsky and his men, one of whom was armed with a camera equipped with a large spotlight, at Waring and Kilkea.
On a signal, a half dozen or so of the men stormed the ground floor apartment, crashing through the kitchen door, stomping through the dark house to a back bedroom where they surrounded the bed. Ruditsky’s man with the camera turned on his spotlight and exposed–Florence Kotz, a 39-year-old secretary, awakened in her curlers from a deep sleep and now screaming bloody murder. The men realized that they had entered the wrong apartment and hastily retreated, breaking more of Kotz’s belongings on the way out. Kotz had been blinded by the spotlight and couldn’t identify her assailants, so the police report she filed that night was vague on details. The incident was filed as an attempted home-invasion robbery.
The story went dark for nearly a year, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, it exploded into a firestorm of unwanted publicity in the form of a cover story in the September 1955 edition of Confidential Magazine depicting DiMaggio and Sinatra as bungling fools. Over the next two years, the “Wrong Door Raid” became one of many stories reported by Confidential that Hollywood stars found objectionable. In August 1957, California Attorney General Pat Brown, a future governor and father of Gov. Jerry Brown, took Confidential to trial in Los Angeles based on allegations made in the “Wrong Door Raid” articles, among many other salacious stories in the popular magazine. The trial, which the public followed with rapt attention, was one of the 20th century’s many “trials of the century,” and like many of them, it ended in a whimper not a bang. The jury was hung on whether Confidential had committed libel, but rather than face a retrial, the magazine’s publisher opted to stop reporting on the personal lives of Hollywood stars.
(Read the complete story here: “Wrong Door Raid: The Celebrity Scandal That Irked Sinatra, Made a Fool of DiMaggio – All at Marilyn Monroe’s Expense.”)