Marilyn's Spirit Returns to New York

08/05/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

What better way to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of screen legend Marilyn Monroe (she died at age 36 on Aug. 5, 1962) than with a lookalike contest and seance? More than a dozen Marilyns of all sizes, shapes, sexes and races turned out for the event on Friday at one of her favorite old New York hangouts, the Upper East Side restaurant Serendipity, prompting psychic Judi Hoffman, noticing the advanced age of some of the participants, to remark, "I hate to say it, but I don't think we'll have to raise the dead." When it came time to channel Marilyn, Hoffman, 42 and a regular on the "Jenny Jones" show, fielded a question from the crowd as to whether the screen icon was ever happy. "She doesn't understand the word 'happy,' from what I'm feeling," said Hoffman, who later gleaned from the other side that the great love of Marilyn's life was her mother. The lookalike winner was Holly Flattmann, 23, a Louisiana native who told PEOPLE.com that she had been in New York for two years and was now trying to make the change from dancer to actress. The runner-up, Helen Sorokina, 30, wore a turquoise dress so tight that she couldn't sit down and had a Russian accent so thick that she had to lip-synch "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." But her smile was beguiling.

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