A Brief History
On August 5th, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home of an apparent drug overdose. No definitive cause of death has ever been determined. Suicide could not be conclusively proven, and there were some indications of foul play, murder, medical negligence or perhaps even a cover-up.
Much has been written about her final days. Although neither the coroner nor the investigators could with certainty say what happened, what is certain is that her death allowed Joe DiMaggio to show to the world his undying devotion and loyalty to her.
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio married in January of 1954.
Their timing was less than perfect; Joe had recently retired from the New York Yankees as one of the greatest ballplayers of all time, and Marilyn was an up-and-coming studio starlet. Whereas Joe wanted to finally settle down, Marilyn wanted to become a full-fledged Hollywood star.
Joe was an intensely private man, and felt uncomfortable in the Hollywood scene. He wanted Marilyn to leave Hollywood and become a homemaker. He felt the studio heads exploited her and once said, “Can’t you see that those Hollywood swine are using you? You’re nothing to them but a piece of meat.”
Although Marilyn’s Playboy pictorial which had been published a month before their marriage should have been a sign of things to come, Joe could not stand the thought of other men ogling his wife and felt that the revealing outfits she wore in public made her look like a whore. He nearly lost it when she filmed the iconic skirt scene in The Seven Year Itch. The marriage became increasingly volatile as a result of Joe’s jealousy and unhappiness with Marilyn’s decisions, such as interrupting their honeymoon to entertain the troops in Korea, and Marilyn began to feel increasingly controlled and sought comfort in other men’s arms. Joe obsessively followed her around and spied on her. Marilyn could not take it anymore, and they divorced after less than a year of marriage.
Over the next few years, despite Marilyn’s marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, Joe tried to win her back, loaned her money when she needed it and even attended anger management. He did everything to prove his commitment to her. When Marilyn was forcibly institutionalized in 1961 because of her fragile emotional state and drug and alcohol use, he was the only one to come to her aid and rescue her from the clinic after he threatened to tear it down if they did not release her. To help her recover, he then took her on a vacation to Florida. His dedication to her and the stability he provided her did her good. She appreciated his efforts and said, “If it weren’t for Joe, I’d probably have killed myself years ago.” She was not ready to return to him though.
Joe continued to fear for her mental state and well being, and became especially worried when she began hanging with the wrong crowd; Marilyn was socializing with the infamous Rat Pack and had begun affairs with both President Kennedy and his brother, Robert Kennedy. Her phone was even tapped. To get her out of this mess, he asked her to marry him again; Worn out by Hollywood and scandal, she agreed. On the 2nd of August, he left his job to begin the preparations. The wedding was set for the 8th. Marilyn was found dead on the 5th. Since Marilyn did not have any other family, it was Joe who claimed her body and took over the funeral arrangements. He held the Kennedys responsible for her death and ensured that neither they nor any of Hollywood’s elite attended. At the funeral service, which took place on the day they were supposed to marry, he broke down crying. He then arranged for a bench to be placed in front of her grave for visitors to sit, and, in accordance with her wishes, made arrangements that flowers be regularly delivered to her grave. He kept this up three times a week for the next 20 years. Joe believed that no one could love her as much as he did. She was the one woman he truly loved, and he never got over her death. He grieved her until the day he died and never remarried. He also never spoke publicly or negatively of her, and his final words were, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn again.”
If a second marriage between the two would have worked out is uncertain. Marilyn obviously had insecurity issues that made her drink, take drugs and look for love with the wrong men. It is a shame, especially since Joe offered her stability. At the beginning of her career she was not ready, and then when she was, she died. This fact makes it all the more tragic.
Here is a short list of other celebrities who married more than once. Unfortunately the track record for a successful second go-around is not good:
1) Elizabeth Taylor – Richard Burton
First marriage 10 yrs.; Second marriage 1 yr.
2) Melanie Griffith – Don Johnson
First marriage 6 months; Second marriage 7 yrs.
3) Natalie Wood – Robert Wagner
First marriage 5 yrs.; Second marriage 9 yrs. (her mysterious death)
4) Colleen Dewhurst – George C. Scott
First marriage 5 yrs; Second marriage 5 yrs.
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For more information, please read…
Heymann, C. David. Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love. Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 2014.