On January 14, 1954, buxom blonde Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe married New York Yankees hero Joe DiMaggio. The two American sweethearts seemed like the perfect match at first, but their married life proved to be rocky and fleeting.
Monroe and DiMaggio’s relationship started in 1952 after DiMaggio saw a picture of Monroe with two Chicago White Sox players, and arranged a dinner date with her. Monroe, who’s Hollywood popularity was rising after her roles in Monkey Business and Don’t Bother to Knock, was uneasy about meeting the baseball legend at first, thinking he would be a stereotypical jock. She showed up for their date two hours late, but was surprisingly wooed by the ex-Yankee.
It wasn’t long before the press caught wind of the blossoming romance and media outlets began following their relationship extensively. The couple managed to keep a low profile despite their tremendous fame, often spending time together at home or in the dark corners of DiMaggio’s restaurant. The love struck pair eloped on January 14, 1954, and were married at San Francisco City Hall. Monroe had let the news of her planned marriage slip to someone at her film studio, so the two were mobbed by press and fans upon exiting the hall.
While taking their honeymoon in Tokyo, Japan, Monroe was asked to perform for U.S. troops stationed in Korea. Happy to comply, Monroe left her unhappy new husband alone in Japan for four days while she performed 10 shows for over 100,000 soldiers. DiMaggio was already uneasy about Monroe’s sex symbol status and appeal, and this initial incident in their marriage was the first blow of many.
The most memorable and public example of the continuous discontent in their relationship happened on September 14, 1954. Monroe was filming probably the most famous scene in her movie career – the skirt blowing scene in The Seven Year Itch. Director Billy Wilder reportedly informed news outlets to turn the shoot into a media circus. When the crowd went wild every time Monroe’s skirt was blown up from wind coming from the subway grates, a sensitive DiMaggio became enraged. The two then had a “yelling match” in the lobby of the Trans-Lux theater where the scene was being filmed.
Just nine months, a mere 274 days, after their wedding, Monroe filed for divorce on the grounds of “mental cruelty,” claiming DiMaggio was “cold and indifferent.” She married playwright Arthur Miller four years later in 1958, but was divorced from him as well in 1961.
Monroe was now emotionally exhausted and was admitted into the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in February 1961. Coming to her rescue despite their volatile relationshiop was DiMaggio, who helped secure her release from the clinic. To get some rest and relaxation after her release, Monroe traveled with DiMaggio to Florida where the Yankees spring training camp was taking place. Rumors began to fly that the two were rekindling their romance, however they maintained that they were simply “good friends.”
On August 1, 1962, DiMaggio quit his then job and planned to ask Monroe to remarry him. A few days later, on August 5, Monroe was found dead from a drug overdose. DiMaggio was the first person called after Monroe’s body was found. Devastated, DiMaggio claimed the late actress’s body and single-handedly orchestrated her entire funeral. DiMaggio never remarried, and for the next 20 years until his death, he had a dozen red roses delivered to her crypt several times a week.
Though their marriage didn’t work out, DiMaggio’s love for Monroe was eternal.