Inside Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s Insanely Brief Marriage
There is perhaps no actress more iconic than Marilyn Monroe.
She defined an entire generation of Hollywood glamor in the middle of the 20th century, starring in classic movies like Some Like it Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She was both an all-American girl and a sex symbol. To this day, her face adorns countless posters, T-shirts, mugs, and all other kinds of merchandise. Monroe’s place as a timeless legend is truly solidified.
One of the most memorable aspects of Monroe’s time in the spotlight was her rocky love life.
Monroe was married to three men throughout her life: James Dougherty, Joe DiMaggio, and Arthur Miller. The shortest of those marriages was the one to DiMaggio; it lasted only nine months. But during those nine months, the couple packed in more drama than could be contained in any of Monroe’s films. Some might say that the issue was their vastly different personalities. Others might say their relationship was just too passionate to last. But no matter what the reason was, it’s undeniable that their relationship was filled with ups and downs to the point of even being toxic.
Here’s everything you need to know about Monroe and DiMaggio’s tabloid-worthy marriage.
Monroe and DiMaggio seemed like they could be the perfect superstar couple.
In 1952, Monroe was a rising movie star and DiMaggio was a world-class baseball player.
DiMaggio played baseball for the New York Yankees and Monroe was becoming more and more popular thanks to her roles in movies like Monkey Business (1952). They were two of the most high profile celebrities, and so they’d make perfect sense together.
DiMaggio was intrigued by Monroe’s beauty and he asked her agent to set him up with Monroe.
But even though DiMaggio was very excited to meet Monroe, she almost called the night off.
Monroe thought that DiMaggio would be very full of himself because he was such a famous athlete. But, she kept the date and was pleasantly surprised. DiMaggio was pretty reserved around her, and she wasn’t used to men being quiet around her. He sparked her interest, and that sparked the beginning of their relationship.
The press picked up on Monroe and DiMaggio’s relationship and started covering it right away.
Even though the press wanted to write about their relationship, Monroe and DiMaggio tried to keep a low profile.
They spent a lot of their time at home or in the back of DiMaggio’s restaurant at the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. That wasn’t enough to keep the couple out of the headlines, though.
Even before they made things official, Monroe knew their relationship wouldn’t be easy.
“We knew it wouldn’t be an easy marriage,” Monroe said at the time.
For their first two years together, Monroe and DiMaggio lived across the country, so they maintained a long-distance relationship. They decided to get married mostly so they wouldn’t have to continue traveling to see each other. They scheduled their elopement around an already-planned business trip to Japan that they could use for their honeymoon.
Monroe and DiMaggio were married on January 14, 1954.
Monroe and DiMaggio had hoped for a private wedding, but the press hounded them after the ceremony.
They were married at San Francisco City Hall, and afterwards, they were surrounded by both reporters and fans. Monroe had mentioned her plans for the event to someone at her film studio, who leaked the info to the public.
Right from the start, it was not smooth sailing for the newlyweds.
Monroe and DiMaggio fought while on their honeymoon in Japan.
While they were in Japan, Monroe was asked to entertain troops in Korea. DiMaggio was upset about her leaving him, but Monroe went anyway. She left DiMaggio in Japan, unhappy and resentful of his new wife’s career. It seemed to provide foreshadowing for the rest of their time together.
DiMaggio tried to control Monroe’s career.
He took an active role in influencing the roles that Monroe would take (or not).
DiMaggio was a big part of Monroe’s contract negotiations, making sure that she was paid what she was worth. But, he also restricted the roles she could accept and asked that she never appear more than half-naked in any films.
DiMaggio didn’t like the fact that his wife was a sex object.
When Monroe filmed The Seven Year Itch, the famous scene of her white dress blowing atop a subway grate immediately took the world by storm.
However, DiMaggio was in the minority of people who didn’t like the scene. He was on set while it was being filmed, and he reportedly became enraged when he saw how sexy his wife was being on camera.
Monroe and DiMaggio had little to bond over.
DiMaggio was interested in baseball and not much else, while Monroe wanted to expand her cultural knowledge.
Monroe would spend her nights out meeting new people while DiMaggio would stay at home and wait for her. This just made jealousy and distance grow between them.
Their marriage lasted less than a year.
Monroe and DiMaggio got divorced in October 1954, after only 274 days of marriage.
Monroe accused DiMaggio of “mental cruelty,” which she cited in her divorce filing. She told Fox Studios publicist Harry Brand about the divorce, and he released a statement to the press on her behalf. After he did, reporters once again descended upon the couple.
DiMaggio spied on Monroe after their divorce.
Even though the marriage didn’t work out, DiMaggio had trouble letting go of Monroe.
After their marriage ended, Monroe moved into the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. DiMaggio would sit in the lobby and wait to spot her.
He would do it while wearing a fake beard and holding The New York Times over his face so that he was partially disguised.
At least the rouse allowed him a glimpse of his lost love.
They remained friends even after their divorce.
Monroe remarried, but she still confided in DiMaggio and considered him a close friend.
She married playwright Arthur Miller in 1956, but that marriage ended in divorce in 1961.
After her third divorce, Monroe was in a fragile state. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, but DiMaggio helped her to get released and took her to Florida to recover.
DiMaggio always hoped that they would rekindle their romance.
Monroe and DiMaggio remained close, so there was always a possibility that their romance could be rekindled.
Monroe began to spiral downward with drugs and alcohol, and she had affairs with both John and Bobby Kennedy.
But still, DiMaggio supported her. Monroe told a friend, “If it weren’t for Joe, I’d probably have killed myself years ago.”
DiMaggio loved Monroe even after she died.
On Aug. 5, 1962, Monroe died of a drug overdose at the age of 36.
At the time of her death, DiMaggio was Monroe’s only real family. He organized her funeral arrangements, and he remembered something that Monroe told them while they were still together.
Monroe had said that after she died, she wanted fresh flowers delivered to her grave every week, just like William Powell did for Jean Harlow.
DiMaggio made sure Monroe’s grave was always covered in fresh flowers until his death in 1999.