After the excitement of the Marilyn musical, we had nothing planned for the next day, so spent it wandering around the Americana and Glendale Galleria. Unfortunately, our jetlag was extreme that day, so instead of looking like something out of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, we looked like characters from the Walking Dead! Never mind, we still had a lovely time, and enjoyed a long visit to Barnes and Noble, spying on some very familiar books!
The next day (Sunday 31st July), we were heading to Vegas, to meet with Marilyn’s early boyfriend, Bill Pursel, and his beautiful wife and family. We started the day in Foxy’s, which was our favourite place to have breakfast. I’ve now been home for three weeks and I’m still craving their pancakes!!
We were driven to Las Vegas by a lovely lady called Kim, who works for the production company who produced the musical. We arrived later than planned because of a bit of car trouble, but finally we were there, and I was able to meet Bill, after being friends with him for the past eleven years!
Before I go on, let me tell you a little more about Bill Pursel. In 1946, he met Marilyn (Norma Jeane) while she was in Vegas. The two were extremely close and remained in touch long after Norma Jeane became Marilyn Monroe. When Norma Jeane returned to Los Angeles from Vegas, Bill drove with her for a while, with the plan that he would then return to Nevada on the bus, while she continued to Los Angeles. There then followed something of an adventure, involving border control and a broken down car! The story is too long to write here, but you can read all about it in my book, should you want to. 🙂
The moment she arrived home from Vegas, Norma Jeane wrote a long letter to Bill, thanking him for his kindness and sharing all manner of news with him. This letter is very important, because if not for that, I’d never have found Bill Pursel!
Many years later, Bill sold the letter at auction, and my friend Eric bought the catalogue. He sent it to me while I was researching the hardback of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. I read the letter, and my first thought was, “I really want to find out who Bill Pursel is!” I then wrote to everyone I could find who shared his name, and a few weeks later I received a lovely email from Bill’s wife. Yes, I had found Norma Jeane’s former boyfriend, and even better – he was prepared to speak to me!
Bill had never, ever, spoken publicly about his relationship with Marilyn, until I showed up, so I was extremely thankful and honoured to include his stories in the first biography, and later in the revised paperback. He shared some wonderful memories and photos with me and we became fast friends. Incidentally, while it took me eleven years to meet Bill, my parents met him and Mac way back in 2006! They all spent a lovely day together while visiting Vegas and I have envied that meeting ever since!
But now it was my turn to meet them, and it was a really wonderful experience. You can see from these photographs, just how much it meant to me. Bill and I spent a long time exchanging notes and catching up on eleven years of friendship. I then received a guided tour of Bill’s den, where he spends his time emailing all of the fans who write to him on a regular basis. If you’re lucky enough to have an email from Bill, please treasure it! He is a wonderful man, who was there for Norma Jeane at a time when she was reaching for the stars and grabbing her career in both hands.
Before long it was time for us to leave, which was sad because I could have chatted on for many more hours. However, I hope very much to be able to go back to Vegas at some point in the future, to spend a lot more time with Bill, Mac and their lovely family. I just need to save up some pennies first!
For now though, it was off to Planet Hollywood, to spend the night. I only got to see the car park, the elevator and my room, however, because we needed to get up at 4.30 am, so it was straight to bed. It is strange to tell people I’ve been to Vegas but only for eleven hours, and didn’t see any of the sites, but that’s just the way it turned out. Next time I’m in Vegas, I will have time to see the hotel and everything else that goes on, on the famous Strip! I can’t wait!