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Van Nuys High Gets Original Photo Print of Famous Alumnus

March 21, 1991|AARON CURTISS

It's been almost 50 years since Norma Jean Baker made her brief appearance at Van Nuys High School, but now she has a monument of sorts there.

Norma Jean, who attended the school as a 15-year-old between the fall of 1941 and the spring of 1942, later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and became a Hollywood legend.

Wednesday night, an original 30-by-40-inch print of a photograph of the star was hung in the school's library, a gift from Robert Slatzer, a Los Angeles writer and photographer who claims he was married to Monroe for five days in 1952.

The claim has not been substantiated. Slatzer, who published a biography of Monroe in 1975, has also claimed that she was killed in a conspiracy because of her romantic involvement with the late Sen. Robert Kennedy. His charges drew widespread media attention but have not been proven.

The picture, which Slatzer said was one of Monroe's favorites, was snapped shortly before her death but has only recently been printed.

It is the only such memorial to the school's many alumni who went on to celebrity, including Robert Redford, Natalie Wood and Jane Russell, a classmate of Monroe's.

Administrators and students at the school, which has a performing arts magnet program, said Wednesday that despite her tragic life, Monroe was an inspiration to young people.

"She was a common person like most of the young women here," said Sylvia Arreseigor, a 16-year-old junior who collects Monroe memorabilia. "She aimed her goals high and I think people should learn from her that you don't have to quit, no matter what anybody says about you."

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