On This Day

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Associated Press
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio

On This Day: Joe DiMaggio Marries Marilyn Monroe

January 14, 2011 06:00 AM
by Haley A. Lovett
On Jan. 14, 1954, former Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio and Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe married at the San Francisco City Hall. The couple divorced only nine months later.

DiMaggio and Monroe Marry in San Francisco

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He was a baseball legend at the end of his career. She was an up-and-coming actress soon to become a national icon of feminine sexuality.

DiMaggio arranged their first meeting after seeing a picture of Monroe with another ballplayer. Monroe arrived to dinner late and showed little interest in DiMaggio until actor Mickey Rooney arrived and began listing off DiMaggio’s on-field accomplishments. “Rooney’s fawning,” writes PBS, “is said to have piqued Marilyn’s interest.”

After a two-year courtship, the two married on Jan. 14, 1954 in San Francisco City Hall. Their early afternoon wedding, attended by only a few friends and Judge Charles S. Perry, was a surprise to many. Wanting to maintain their privacy after the ceremony, the couple spent their first night as husband and wife in an inconspicuous $6-a-night California hotel.

Their marriage had problems from the start. DiMaggio was looking to settle down and wanted a stay-at-home wife; Monroe wanted to continue with her career, which took her all over the world. “He wants to cut me off completely from my whole world of motion pictures, friends, and creative people that I know,” Monroe wrote to a friend.
Furthermore, DiMaggio didn’t approve of Monroe’s public sexuality. During a famous scene in the “The Seven Year Itch” in which Monroe stood over New York subway grate with her dress billowing up, DiMaggio “was reported to have said angrily: ‘What the hell's going on here?’” according to Time.

Monroe filed for divorce in October 1954, citing “mental cruelty.” Though their marriage lasted only nine months, the two remained friends until Monroe’s tragic death in 1962. DiMaggio organized her funeral and reportedly knelt down at her grave and said, “I love you. I love you.”

DiMaggio had roses sent to Monroe’s crypt three times a week for the next 20 years. He died in 1999 having never remarried.

Key Players: DiMaggio and Monroe

Joe DiMaggio
Born on Nov. 25, 1914, Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio was the eighth child in his family. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1945, and married his first wife, Dorothy Arnold, in 1941. They were divorced five years later.

DiMaggio spent his entire Major League career with the New York Yankees, playing from 1934 to 1951. With the Yankees, DiMaggio won nine World Series championships, three American League MVPs, and went a Major League-record 56 consecutive games with a hit in 1941.

Marilyn Monroe
Born on June 1, 1926, as Norma Jeane Baker, Monroe was bounced between foster homes and orphanages during her childhood. At 16, she married neighbor Jimmy Dougherty; the two divorced four years later.

Monroe had very little education and worked as a paint sprayer in a defense plant while trying to break into show business. She began modeling and attending a charm school in Hollywood; she was signed to a film studio, but was eventually fired because of her chronic tardiness. She decided to pose in the nude for $50 because she was short on money.

After a small role in “Asphalt Jungle,” she was hired back to her old studio where she starred in a series of hit films. She soon demanded better parts, actually walking off the set of one film. Monroe later moved to New York City to study acting at the Actors Studio.

After her marriage to Joe DiMaggio, Monroe began looking for more serious acting roles. In 1956, she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy for her role in “Some Like It Hot.”

Following her divorce with DiMaggio, she married American playwright Arthur Miller on June 29, 1956. The two were divorced in 1961. Monroe died in her sleep on Aug. 5, 1962, at the age of 36.

Related Topics: DiMaggio’s journals

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