Photographs by Larry Harnisch Los Angeles Times
The "Wrong Door Raid" apartments at Waring Avenue and Kilkea Drive, May 27, 2007
Let’s suppose you are an American baseball legend being divorced by
your beautiful Hollywood actress wife. Let’s further suppose that you
see her car parked outside a small apartment house near Melrose and Crescent Heights
late one night in 1954.
Naturally, you decide to break down the door and catch her in the act
with another man, even though you have a less than 50-50 chance of
breaking into the right apartment.
Of course, you call some private detectives. And being an American
baseball legend, an Italian American baseball legend, your chums
include a well-known Italian American singer.
Out comes the ax and down goes the door at 8122 Waring Ave.
Instead of catching Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and various companions (including Frank Sinatra) terrified Florence Kotz Ross.
Who was asleep.
"Mrs. Ross was fast asleep about 11 p.m. when five or six
men suddenly battered down the back door to her apartment, tearing it
from its hinges and leaving glass strewn on the floor," The Times said.
"Immediately … a bright flash of light was shone in her eyes and she
was confronted with a number of men, some of whom seemed to be carrying
an instrument which at first sight she believed to be an ax."
The men fled and Ross reported the incident to police as a burglary.
Then Confidential magazine published a story about the raid in its
February 1957 issue, touching off the Legislature’s investigation of
scandal magazines and private detectives. Ross learned the identities
of the raiders when one of the private detectives, Philip Irwin, told
the story to the investigative committee and the grand jury.
Sinatra received similar treatment when he was served with a subpoena
in Palm Springs at 4 a.m. on Feb. 16, 1957, and he filed a complaint
with the LAPD about the incident. Although his testimony was
contradicted by others, Sinatra was adamant that he remained in a
Cadillac parked outside the complex during the raid.
Private detective Barney Ruditsky, Irwin’s boss, testified before the
grand jury that Sinatra and DiMaggio remained outside while he and
Irwin broke down the door. During the investigation, Irwin testified
that he had been beaten up by six men after he told an official of the
State’s Bureau of Private Investigators and Adjusters his version of
the raid. He also testified that he hadn’t sold the details to Confidential
In September 1958, the "wrong door" lawsuit against DiMaggio, Sinatra,
Irwin, Ruditsky, Patsy D’Amore and John Seminola was settled for $7,500
($53,739.63 USD 2006).
And where was Monroe during all of this? Next door, visiting girlfriend Sheila Stewart Renour at 8120 Waring.
My great grandfather built this apartment and my father and his mother lived at 8120 waring. His mother virginia testified in court about the incident. marilyn was actually upstairs at 754 n. kilkea dr. visiting her friend, not at 8120. I grew up in 754 n. kilkea dr.. My father used to see her come and go.
–No kidding. Thanks for sharing… If you have any other recollections please write!
–And keep checking back.
I was just talking with a friend about Marilyn Monroe so I decided to look up the day she died. I know about her more than the average person, and remember seeing her riding a pink elephant at the Ringling Bros in NY. For some I’ve felt this strong connection with her since I was very young. People in the public eye often have their stories blown out of what the truth is, The wrong door raid kind of cracks me up. It’s a great big “Oops!, and luckily nobody was hurt. I’m related to Dennis Day, and he was very close to her. He told me some fun stories about how she really was. Great laugh, very smart, and very Irish. Let me put it this way….have you ever seen a Kennedy on a t-shirt? Signed……..a Marilyn admirer.