The Private Life Of Marilyn Monroe And Joe DiMaggio
Ask a dozen people who see them regularly whether Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe are married, and you’ll have six people answering yes and half a dozen saying no. They will all have authoritative inside information, these dozen people, but six of them have to be wrong!
Walter Winchell, as close a friend as Joe can have, thinks the two are married. Others say that Marilyn and Joe are as close to saying “I do” as a couple holding hands and staring at a spot on the preacher’s tie.
All we can do is let the facts speak for themselves.
Shortly before Marilyn left for Canada and the location of “River of No Return” some weeks ago, she was strolling down a studio street at Twentieth Century-Fox with a friend. The day had been fully occupied with getting ready for the trip and Marilyn’s mind was filled with the details of the journey.
“Is Joe going along?” asked the friend.
“I don’t know,” said Marilyn. “I don’t think so.”
“I’m not sure,” said the friend, “that it would be a good idea. He doesn’t like picture people very much. And he couldn’t miss them, what with the company all being off in the wilds together.”
“Yes, that’s the trouble,” said Marilyn. “Joe doesn’t like very many people. I suppose it is just as well.”
Married or not, if anything breaks up the longtime association between Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, Joe’s reticence, and his anti-social attitude will more than likely be the cause. And if they’re not married, these same reservations will most likely keep him from marching to the altar with the most luscious blonde of the Twentieth Century.
Very few people have ever broken through the DiMaggio layer of reserve or fractured the wall of silence that surrounds him to get any kind of comment on his relationship with Marilyn. But a reporter for Photoplay did. He got Joe to talk for the first time. Then he checked the details of the conversation with one of Joe’s closest pals and with a sports writer who has been observing the ball player’s conduct and inclinations since he first came to New York for the Yankees.
Our reporter got to the point fast and asked Joe outright if he was married to Marilyn.
“All I can say,” Joe stammered, “is that we’re not married yet—as some of the magazines and columns have been saying.”
“Well, will you be?” he was asked.
“I don’t know,” said Joe. “There are so many factors to consider.”
The conversation took place in front of the Yankee dugout at the Stadium during the recent Old-timers’ Day celebration in Manhattan. Joe had gone there after visiting Marilyn at Banff National Park in Canada. Although he was vague as usual in his answers, Joe, on this day, was a magpie in comparison to other occasions when he’d been asked about Marilyn.
He admitted—between waves to fellow players and fans in the stands—that he had gone up to Canada to visit Marilyn. But on the other hand he couldn’t quite say when he’d see her again. He might, he agreed, go to California to see her when she got home. (He did.) And he mum- bled again about the “complicating factors” that were involved in any future he might wish to share with Marilyn.
The old friend was more speculative than informative when he discussed this.
“I’m not saying the marriage would be a bad thing for the big guy,” he said. “I think Marilyn could be very happy with Joe provided she kept him out of the spotlight. But is such a thing possible, since she’s the hottest thing in pictures, what with ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ and ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’?”
Another opinion Joe’s pal expressed had to do with the evils of a wife working away from home base. “If she continues to work and has to go on locations the way she’s had to before,” he said, “Joe’s not going to get to see her very often. That’s hardly an ideal set-up for marriage.”
On the other hand, the sports writer didn’t think Joe’s personality could stand the rigors of being married to a famous movie star. And he based his conclusion on Joe’s reaction to the spotlight when he himself had to bask in it.
“For most of the thirteen years he was in the big leagues,” the sports writer said, “Joe was the biggest thing in baseball. He couldn’t hail a cab, go around the corner to mail a letter or even go to the movies without being recognized.
“But even after all those years, Joe never got used to it. He was still a quiet, shy guy. When he quit baseball he still had two or three years to go at close to $100,000 a year—but he gave it up, mainly so he could get away from the crowds. If he marries this girl now he’s going to go right back to where he was in 1936. You can’t tell me he’s not going to consider this when he thinks of marrying Marilyn.”
But another fellow, who is equally close to the slugger’s feelings, had a different point of view on the matter of marriage.
“Look,” this man said, “the simple fact is that Joe is gone—head over heels—for this girl. He’s in Flipsville! And I never saw him that way before. He’ll do anything to keep that romance going.”
“Do you think she’ll be good for him?” he was asked.
“The guy’s nuts about her!” said the fellow. “Who’s to say what’s good when it’s a condition like that?”
These conversations with Joe DiMaggio and his friends and observers probe one side of the story—but they don’t prove anything. Even those on the inside are guessing. So are Marilyn’s intimates.
“I can’t tell you,” a columnist friend of Marilyn said recently, “I know her better than anybody in Hollywood. I see her every few days. I talk with her on the phone several times a week. I know most of her secrets. I know who she likes and who she doesn’t like. I know her ambitions and her disappointments. But if my life depended on it right now I couldn’t tell you if she is married to DiMaggio, or ever intends to marry him.”
However, a close dissection of the Hollywood behavior of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, while it may not bring one to a proven conclusion as to their possible marriage, will at least show the pattern of their lives and bring you, for the first time, a clear view of the true picture.
The first thing to take into consideration is the residences of Marilyn and Joe. They both live in Hollywood, despite the belief of some writers that Joe actually resides in New York. Marilyn lives in a modernistic apartment close by the Sunset Strip, a building occupied in the main by middleclass, average-salaried folks like you and me. The Pinkertons themselves couldn’t tell you where Joe lives. We asked a dozen people who should know and not one of them could give us an address. But that isn’t terribly important, because Joe is where Marilyn is except when she’s working or sleeping.
They act like married people, or at least like a couple going real steady. That means that they don’t make dates. When she gets off work at the end of the day she heads like a pigeon for Joe.
Once home, she slips into an apron and begins opening cans and getting things ready for the big fellow’s dinner, which she cooks with her own hands. The evenings they spend are as ordinary as a couple’s in Oklahoma City. They sit and read, watch television or talk. When she’s working Marilyn has to get to bed early, so Joe lets himself out and disappears.
This private, intimate part of their lives they share. But that’s all. And difficult as the truth may be, it’s all they can share. During the hours Marilyn has to spend at the studio she never sees Joe. No one can ever recall seeing him at her studio. And in the evening, on those occasions she has to attend premieres or parties or other public affairs, you’d think she never had a boy friend. She is escorted every time by a studio press agent or a columnist who is happily married and couldn’t possibly be talked about. No eligible man ever takes her out—and studio press agents are forbidden to link her name with any other man in the gossip columns. Joe didn’t even accompany Marilyn to a private party given Walter Winchell by the Los Angeles Press Club last summer—and Winchell is Joe’s buddy.
Now this is a strange state of affairs, to be sure. But there are sound reasons for Marilyn’s behavior, and Joe’s reluctance to be seen with her in public. And these reasons exist in spite of the fact they’re very much in love.
In the first place, Joe is jealous, which is only natural. There is a row if Marilyn even looks at another man. A flow of hot words if a columnist even intimates she enjoyed being with another man. Marilyn changes her phone number so often that her own studio seldom knows it; and she does this not because she wants to hide from the world, but because she doesn’t want any men friends calling.
Joe’s jealousy, Marilyn’s friends fear, may be the thing that will finally wreck their romance. Because, they say, he is now jealous of the leading men she works with. That is indeed a disastrous state of affairs in a business in which a girl has to spend a lot of hours in an actor’s arms.
The other reason for Joe DiMaggio’s reluctance to make a public display of his feelings for Marilyn Monroe is two-pronged. He is afraid of the publicity—and afraid, very afraid, of the attitude and actions of his former wife, Dorothy. You may recall that Joe dived into his shell the day Dorothy filed an action against him in the Los Angeles Superior Court a couple of years ago, charging him with allowing their son to cavort around a swimming pool with a fancy blonde while liquor was being served. At the same time, the former Mrs. DiMaggio asked for an increase in support money and alimony being paid her. Joe was vindicated, of course, and Dorothy was denied the increase, but Joe never got over the terror of having to appear in court and the resulting publicity from that appearance. He will give the girl up, most people say, before he’ll go through it again.
Then there is Marilyn Monroe’s side to the story. She is shy. There’s no question about that. She likes the position of a movie star, although she is a little afraid of what it demands in the way of public demonstrations. But above everything else in the world Marilyn Monroe wants to be the biggest movie star the films ever had. Her career as an actress is the most important thing there ever has been or ever will be in her life. It is held by those who know her best that she would give up everything, up to and including Joe DiMaggio, if it interfered with her ambition to be these things.
Observers who have seen Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio together recently report that the greater regard is in Marilyn. That it is she who is the most desperately in love, and shows it in the way she looks at her man and treats him in public. They are poor observers. The only times they are seen together are the rare nights they eat out in some hide-away Italian cafe or a photographer-forbidden Hollywood restaurant. At these times Marilyn is “on” as they say in the profession. She’s smiling and putting on a show. Joe isn’t able to do that.
Marilyn is, of course, more than fond of Joe. But actually, if her feeling for him isn’t static it may soon take the downgrade. And the complications we’ve told you about are solely responsible. She’s a one-man woman, who would be very happy in a comfortable marriage if she didn’t have to live like a character in a cloak-and-dagger opera. If and when she breaks with Joe DiMaggio it will be this charade that strikes the final blow. Her confidants know this to be true—and for some time have been waiting for that final blow to fall.
Looking at it from the outside, it doesn’t seem to be a happy life for either Joe or Marilyn. But, as someone said a long time ago, things are seldom what they seem. And if Joe and Marilyn didn’t like the status quo, they’d do something about it. They’ve both proved separately that they’re strong enough to crack the whip and make life jump through hoops. So why not together?
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE DECEMBER 1953