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Marilyn Monroe Talks About Joe And Babies

“I’d hate to think that marriage was Joe’s only interest,” said Marilyn Monroe. “There are twenty-four hours in each day. How many hours can you give to being a husband or a wife? You must have other interests, too, to make for a full, happy life.” This is “The Monroe Doctrine.”

Marilyn was giving me the frankest interview of her life, revealing her most secret thoughts oy marriage and babies—and she threw in the famous calendar for fascinating good measure. She’s a trifle old-fashioned. She believes a wife should not be separated from her husband and she believes a mother should not be separated from her children. She has definite ideas about child care—having been a neglected child herself. She discussed all of this with the honesty that has always existed between this reporter and the blonde, beautiful and most exciting movie star of our generation.

Some of the women reporters in this town have given Marilyn a bad time. They’ve called her cheap, tawdry, a bad actress. She has always been grateful to me because way back, even before the bit in Asphalt Jungle, in the days when only the late diminutive agent, Johnny Hyde, believed she would one day be a great actress, I regarded her as a nice girl, caught in the Hollywood jungle. I must confess I didn’t think she had much chance of breaking out of the overgrown forest into the bright sunlight of stardom. I like her even more now, because success has loosened the tight bonds of an inferiority complex that used to bind her tongue when you asked her the simplest question. But now?

“Joe,” said Marilyn, “will always come first with me. He is the human being closest to my heart. He’s the most important person in my life. Everything else is second. But he understands that my career is very important to me. I fought hard to get it. Sometimes starved. And the same goes for his career with me. We both had our jobs before we were married. And we expect to continue them in the same way. But with one big difference. If we can help it, and we can, we’ll never let our work separate us. It’s no fun to be married and parted all the time.”

This is why Joe DiMaggio told his TV sponsors in New York that he would not renew his contract with them. “It meant,” said Marilyn, “that Joe would be away for weeks at a time. And he had to travel backwards and forwards and every which way for us to be together. I was always making a picture and I couldn’t leave Hollywood. We decided that when we married Joe would work from San Francisco or Hollywood so we never would be away from each other by more than an hour’s plane trip.”

I had heard from a usually reliable source that the famous Yankee ballplayer was so infatuated with his wife that he was giving up his own line of work to be a coproducer in the pictures Marilyn plans to make independently (allowed in her new contract, eventually).

There was another story that Joe was planning to turn actor. When I asked about it, Marilyn yelled, “God forbid! I couldn’t take that. And I’m sure he doesn’t want to be an actor. I hope not, anyway. And as far as I know, he wouldn’t want to be a producer. Of course he could do anything he wanted to do. He’s the most intelligent man I ever met in my life. And if he were an actor, he’d be good. But he loves his own profession. I just can’t see him in mine.”

“How about the previews and parties, now that you’re married?” I asked Mrs. Joe. To my knowledge (and Marilyn confirmed it) Joe, who is shy and unhappy outside his own crowd, has never escorted the blonde he loves to any party, nightclub or premiere. Rumors have a way of starting when a star attends functions without her husband. “If you won an Academy Award or something like that, wouldn’t you like to go with Joe?” I wondered.

“It wouldn’t matter what I won or whether I’d want him to come with me or not. He never would,” Marilyn replied. “At least Joe’s very consistent,” she continued. “He hates premieres and parties. So do I. But it’s my business to go. It makes no difference that we’re married. Joe has always been like this. I knew what he was like before we married. He wouldn’t come then, and I don’t think it’s fair to him to try to change him now. I married him for what he was when I fell in love with him.”

I think she has something. How many women fall in love with a man because of what he is, then immediately after the wedding try to make him over into their preconceived dreams of what a husband should be. But not our Marilyn. She doesn’t want Joe to change her, so why should she change him?

Yet the fact that Marilyn will always have to attend certain “career must” functions, and apparently without Joe, will present some possibly irritating situations. “Because,” Marilyn told me, “Joe doesn’t mind my working in the day time. But he wants me home at night.” I think that if the situation ever became really difficult, Joe would swallow his antipathy to Marilyn’s world. Or Marilyn would sacrifice her movie stardom. I believe her when she says Joe will always come first. And I believe they are going to stay married. Forever? That’s a long word. But, yes, forever. They’re so intelligent about each other. Especially Marilyn about Joe.

“I’m not too interested in baseball,” she told me. “I’ve been around Joe long enough to pick up a few rules and expressions. But I wouldn’t break my neck to go to a game with him. I’m not crazy about watching television either. But Joe loves it. That’s his idea of real fun, staying home and watching television. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t care for watching television too much. I like to read and I have to study my scripts.”

A wire story from Korea reported that Marilyn had announced that she and Joe wanted to have six children. “That isn’t true,” she told me candidly. “It’s too many. Joe already has a child (with his first wife, Dorothy Arnold). Of course I’d like to have a baby with Joe very much. Maybe two. But when you have children you must give them a great deal of your time. With my own unhappy childhood, I know this too well. Joe comes from a big family and they’re all so devoted to each other. Right now our work is important to us both, and it wouldn’t be fair to raise a big family. But whatever Joe wants will be all right with me.”

“How does Joe feel about the calendar?” I asked. And perhaps I shouldn’t have asked. Because even though Marilyn smiled, she said quietly, “Will you please pretend you didn’t ask me that question?” So I assume that Joe isn’t crazy about the calendar. And you can’t blame him. But it never has visibly embarrassed Marilyn, even though she is one of the few people in the world who does not own a copy.

“If I had one,” she told me with a grin, “Yd save it for my grandchildren.” She meant it seriously and I knew what she meant. It’s the most beautiful body ever exposed to the not-so-casual scrutiny of the world, including Manet’s Olympia, Goya’s Duchess of Alba, all of Renoir’s nudes put together. And Venus de Milo.

“You mean that when you’re an old woman, you’d like your grandchildren to know what you looked like once upon a time, and they’d be proud of such a body.” She flashed me a thoughtful look and said, “You really do understand, don’t you?” Understand! All I know is I’d give my eye teeth to have a figure like the Monroe’s.

“People are sometimes so embarrassed for me about the calendar,” she continued. “In Korea, for instance. I arrived at one place and they weren’t expecting me. In the middle of the hall, there was a huge blow-up of the calendar. There was complete silence when I came in, and everyone seemed to be looking down. Well, I couldn’t hide my head in the sand. I had posed for it. So I went to the mike and told them all, ‘Gentlemen, I’m deeply honored that you have put my picture in the place of honor.’ Everyone laughed and we were all friends. But you know, Sheilah, I really was honored.” Today, I’m sure that Marilyn would give ten years of her life not to have posed, but she has never been a girl to cry over the past or even look forward to the future too much. This so-called dumb blonde has learned the happy knack of living in the present.

She was reading my thoughts. “I’ve often been asked,” she revealed, “does it bother you when someone refers to you as a dumb blonde? It never has, Sheilah. You see, I’ve always known I wasn’t. Things go on in my mind that no one knows about. I’ve always figured things out and done them according to plan. Oh no, I’m not calculating or tricky. But I know what I want.” And she certainly knows how to get it.

Marilyn insists to this day that her refusal to do Pink Tights had nothing to do with wanting a new contract. It was the story she didn’t like. At the time, the hottest property in Hollywood was earning $750 a week. It could have jumped to $1,250, but on advice of agents she didn’t accept. When she went on strike, Darryl Zanuck who has never professed to like Marilyn (she has kept him waiting too many times) was ready to forgive her any time. But she took her time, made the boss sweat it out, even after he signed Sheree North to take her place. Marilyn knew he was bluffing. She didn’t have to be told that no one can take her place. Today she is paid by the picture—$100,000 each, and she’ll do at least two a year.

She was just as unhurried and determined about Mr. DiMaggio. “When I started going with Joe, people said, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t get married.’ That my career would be ruined and my appeal would be all gone. They said all men liked to dream they had a chance with me. All that so-called friendly advice. But when I went to Korea it didn’t make any difference. No one asked me there if I felt different because I was married. And they didn’t care. All they knew was that I was there and they were happy about it. And I’m so happy I went. All those men—it was the biggest thrill of my life. They didn’t care if I was hot or cold, married or single—just so long as they could see me.”

According to studio count, Marilyn’s fan mail has not decreased since her marriage to Joe. But I remember passing a shop window in Hollywood just after the sudden San Francisco wedding of Joe and Marilyn, and the famous calendar had a line through the price of $1.50, and underneath, “$1—due to marriage.” And a friend of mine in the locker room at UCLA reported a general tearing down of her pin-up pictures. But I don’t think marriage with Joe will hurt Marilyn’s career. She never professed to be a saint when she was single. There’s no real difference now. Marriage merely gave her a partner as glamorous as she is—but in the world of sports. And fans who did not care for her before, now love her because DiMaggio is her husband. Ask any small boy.

“We’re going to build our own house in Hollywood,’ Marilyn told me happily. “Nothing large or flashy. Neither of us wants the bother of a huge home.” So I asked what kind of home. “Maybe a two-bedroom house somewhere in Beverly or Brentwood. Not in the valley. We looked there and it’s too hot. We’ll probably have a pool, but that’s not essential. I’m not very much the outdoor type. But maybe Joe’s son would like to swim. How will I furnish it? I know how I won’t. I hate early American. Let’s say modern rustic. I don’t really care what, as long as it’s warm and cozy.” Meanwhile Joe and Marilyn have rented decorator Barbara Barondess McClean’s fancy two-bedroom-with-pool home in Palm Drive. And if you want to know which house it is, look for two new Cadillacs, one all black (Marilyn’s) and one pale blue (Joe’s).

“What about the report that you and Joe bought a house in an expensive San Francisco suburb?” I asked Mrs. Joe. “Honestly,” she exclaimed, “there’ve been more wrong stories about us than anyone else. Joe owns the family house in San Francisco. He bought it for his parents, but now they have both passed away. And we live in the house when we are there. That’s where we’ll live mostly, when we don’t have to work in Hollywood.”

You’d be stretching a point if you called Marilyn the domestic type. But she can cook. “Nothing fancy though. But Joe is terrific.” He learned in his father’s restaurant, which is now operated by his brother. “He’s teaching me to make spaghetti the way he likes it,” said Marilyn. Joe is teaching his beautiful bride something else—and that’s even better for a busy reporter. Marilyn was actually on time for our lunch. In fact, she was waiting for me! For a girl who took seven hours to prepare for the Millionaire premiere, it’s a revolution.

But more important than anything, Marilyn’s marriage is giving her emotional security. She’s still keyed up before the camera. This makes her break out in a rash sometimes. But her contentment shines clear through her lovely blue eyes. She’s singing, “I’ve got my man.” And she doesn’t ask for very much more.



(Marilyn Monroe’s next picture is 20th Century-Fox’s There’s No Business Like Show Business.)



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