For as long as celebrities have existed, they’ve loved coming to Niagara Falls. Can you blame them? The region’s attractions, from the mighty falls to the lush vineyards, are suitably cinematic and larger-than-life. It’s no wonder the region has hosted everyone from A-list movie stars to teen heartthrobs and even international dignitaries.
Perhaps the most iconic and enduring example of this love affair between the Falls and the stars is Marilyn Monroe. The actress was shooting a film, the 1953 noir thriller Niagara, in the area; the Horseshoe Falls feature prominently on the film’s poster and, naturally, play a pivotal role in the film’s dramatic climax. (But no spoilers here!)
Monroe spent two weeks in Niagara in June 1952 while filming. Along with the rest of the cast, she stayed at what’s now known as the Crowne Plaza Hotel, just a few steps away from the Falls. Back then, the hotel was called the General Brock, in honour of the British major general who defended Canada in the War of 1812. She stayed in room 807; today, a lucky guest can still snag this suite for their stay.
Monroe wasn’t the only 20th century screen star to visit. Ginger Rogers touched down in 1974, as well as Superman stars Cristopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in 1979. Elvis played shows in the area in ’74 and ’75.
Skip ahead a few decades for another notable visit: Princess Diana.
The beloved royal made a stop in Niagara during her 1991 tour of Ontario. William and Harry were in tow; the meet-and-greet at Table Rock became Prince Harry’s first official royal walkabout. The visit was quick – Diana and the boys boarded a helicopter bound for Toronto that same day. But the trio made time for one of Niagara’s must-do attractions: a Niagara Falls boat tour.
It was October, and by then most of the boats were already in storage for the upcoming winter. But one had been set aside for this special ride. The photos of Diana, William and Harry aboard the little white boat in their blue plastic ponchos – the same ones donned by hundreds of thousands before and after them – are simply iconic.
Today’s biggest names continue to be drawn to the area: John Legend once stayed at the Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Ryan Gosling took his wife Eva Mendes on a cheesy-yet-romantic ride on the Niagara Skywheel in bustling Clifton Hill. And teen star Dylan Sprouse was joined by his model girlfriend Barbara Palvin in 2021 as the duo goofed around along the fallsview trail and capped off their trip by sharing a bottle of Riesling among the vines at Peller Estates Winery.
There is one common thread that weaves these celebrity visits together: the rich and famous experience Niagara in the same ways we all do. There are no private yachts, no red-velvet-rope-exclusive sightseeing reserved for a special class of tourist. The Falls, and their surrounding charm, are open for all to see.
In this case, the stars really are just like us.