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Peeking In On Marilyn Monroe As A Housewife

When Marilyn Monroe announced “Marriage is my main career from now on,” she pointed up the fact that the girl behind all the ballyhoo is a wonderful human being. Being top box-office means far less to Marilyn than being a wife to Joe DiMaggio. Now that they’re back from their extended honeymoon to Japan and Korea, where Marilyn visited the troops, the DiMaggios are settling down to blissful domesticity.

It’s typical of Marilyn that she isn’t moving to a swanky estate in Beverly Hills to try to become a social leader. Though she and Joe have a new house in the Hollywood environs they’ve decided to make their real home four hundred miles away from the lavish whirl of movietown. The moment Marilyn is through with work she will head north. Her husband has his roots in San Francisco beside the Golden Gate, so that’s where she is building her life as a wife. By plane the trip takes less than two hours, and once she reaches her destination Marilyn is in another world. The steep hills, brisk air, and cosmopolitan atmosphere of San Francisco enchant her as much as she fascinates her new friends. Actresses have held a special place in this gay city from its Gold Rush days, and with her genuine personality undisguised Marilyn has been adored since her first visit with Joe’s big family.

The Marilyn the DiMaggios know, however, is not the movie queen. They have no doubt about her ability as an actress, nor has anyone who knows Marilyn in person, for her convincing portrayal of a blonde bombshell is proof. She dolls up in those attention-stealing clothes designed and lent her by her studio for official personal appearances. But she doesn’t cling to that movie glitter the minute she can relax; she leaves it entirely behind her like any girl coming away from a job. 

Marilyn is Domestic with a capital D. Even the room boy in the Japanese hotel where Marilyn and Joe spent part of their honeymoon said, “This is the first time I came across a guest who does not dirty the room. She never fails to empty the ash trays.”

Marilyn took enormous pride in furnishing the apartment where Joe courted her. After being farmed out as a ward of the county to a dozen families as she grew up, and then worrying about whether she could pay her room rent as she began in pictures, her progress to this apartment was one of her chief goals as a bachelor girl. She didn’t lease it until she could afford it. Then, with some decorating advice from Jane Russell, she collected the pieces she really wanted. The French Provincial dressers, the rose divan and chairs upholstered in linen blended with the prevailing shade of ivory. She had a fireplace, but not a single picture of herself except for a portrait director Jean Negulesco painted of her.

During Marilyn’s and Joe’s “disappearance” act right after their marriage, they went house-hunting in Beverly Hills and will soon move Marilyn’s precious possessions to their new home. A stove is a source of infinite delight to Marilyn. She can’t conceive of a woman not wanting to become a good cook, and she’s well on the road, herself.

Her wedding was anything but the impulsive step the headlines implied. She didn’t giggle at it, as one newspaper absurdly said. It was the family gathering she and Joe intended. And it was exactly what you’d have predicted from their dating.

There was nothing “Hollywood” about their courtship. Neither ever made a game of love. Marilyn’s name had never been mentioned in any gossip column linked with any actor. She and Joe had none of the stormy weather most film stars encounter, because they’re so much alike. If they hadn’t clicked so superbly, if they’d fought, they would have called the whole thing off at the moment of disagreeing. Each had matured enough emotionally to know the responsibilities of marriage, as well as to count on real companionship as a necessity.

They discussed marrying soon after they met, for neither of them ever had a date with anyone else from the night they were introduced. Marilyn waited a year and a half, though, to be positive she was ready. During that time she never gave one interview about Joe. They never kissed in public. They fell more and more in love with the real selves they discovered in each other. Marilyn had never seen a baseball game when Joe finally came along, and the sports hero had never been impressed by movie princesses.

Marilyn devotes a lot of effort to getting fixed up for a stunning stellar appearance. She’s never found the gilding process a breeze, but she doesn’t want to let down people who gape at the Monroe Legend. Yet it’s equally true that Marilyn prefers to wear no make-up at all, usually uses only lipstick. Her complexion is so fresh she doesn’t need to coat it, thanks to the pains she takes to eat correctly, and to the long walks and regular sleep she prefers to dissipation.

She doesn’t deck herself with gorgeous jewelry. She’s fond of the handsome wrist watch Joe gave her during their engagement, but proudest of her plain gold wedding band.

She isn’t clothes-crazy. Joe will never have to wait impatiently while Marilyn putters from one elaborate ensemble into another. She has acquired smart taste in her off-screen wardrobe by watching what the famous designers of her studio prescribe. She went through high school owning only two middies and two skirts. The monotony appalled her. But though she appreciates each luxury she has now and is bad at bargaining, she’ll never throw money around foolishly.

In Hollywood she’s getting along very nicely without a personal secretary, cook, or retinue of any sort. One of her thrills is driving Joe’s Cadillac convertible. She knows he’s earned it. Someday a swimming pool of their own would be fun, but there’s no rush.

Joe admits he was a gawky kid when he first joined the Yankees, as Marilyn confesses she felt a million miles from movie stardom when she first saw the outside of a studio. The Yankees stressed dignity, which suited Joe fine. The team spirit enthralled him. He never got into any beefs. During his thirteen years with them he earned $704,620. He’d finished running bases in the World Series with his unusual, gazelle-like lope, shortly before he met Marilyn, and he’d become the television commentator on the Yankees’ home games.

Some columnists have predicted that Joe won’t understand Marilyn’s situation as a star. That is ridiculous! She’s always been most grateful to her fans, and always will be, and Joe has the identical sense of appreciation. He’ll never be irked by her legitimate duties as a star. He has written several books on baseball and declares that it depends on its fans, that there is an essential bond between the ball players and their fans in their desire for the inside facts about every phase of the sport. He sees the parallel now in Marilyn’s case.

Marilyn took a suspension from 20th Century-Fox when she balked at acting in “Pink Tights.” Some snide rumors claimed she was attempting to maneuver a huge pay boost. Her rise to the top has been so quick she still wasn’t making much over a thousand a week. It wasn’t more money she wanted, she explained. She’s anxious to be in good pictures, and she felt that being cast in a rewrite of “Coney Island,” the old Betty Grable hit, was not the story to please today’s moviegoers.

“I’ve read the script and I don’t like it. I don’t think my part is good for me,” she says. While Marilyn admits she’d like a “salary adjustment” she’s more interested in getting a good script so she can make a good picture. Just before she took off on her trip to Japan and Korea, Marilyn suggested that “maybe with a few changes the script could be fixed.”

She will accompany Joe to New York for his television program during the World Series, and having an apartment there in addition to their California homes will keep her in seventh heaven as a real housewife. Their new home near San Francisco is where the children they hope to have will grow up in the future. Joe’s twelve-year-old son, Joe Jr., will spend half his holidays from his military school in Los Angeles with them because he and Marilyn are genuine friends. She stayed with Joe’s sister Marie when she visited San Francisco before her marriage, and his sister Betty was her matron-of-honor at the wedding. At last she has the warmhearted family circle she’s dreamed about all her past life.

Marilyn has done a remarkable job of educating herself since graduating from high school. She’s bought good books, good records, has studied art as inconspicuously as she’s kept on taking dramatic coaching. Albert Schweitzer is the man she’d most like to meet now. He’s giving his medical skill to the lepers in a French colony in Africa. If you’ve read his philosophy, you know why Marilyn considers him so important. And if you have any of Emerson’s Essays around within easy reach, you’ll be able to share the philosophy that helped get her where she is today as Joe’s loving—and loved—wife.





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