The Truth About Marilyn Monroe And Joe DiMaggio's Romance

In "The Seven Year Itch," Marilyn Monroe stands above a subway grate as a warm gust sends the white skirt of her dress swirling around her like smoke. It was an iconic moment that not only intensified Monroe's star power, but also transmuted a common and otherwise embarrassing collision of meteorological and sartorial elements into the more glamorous "Marilyn moment." Even so, the moment reportedly destroyed Monroe's marriage to baseball center fielder Joe DiMaggio.

According to Biography, tension had marked their marriage since it began in 1954, as Monroe traveled for work, while DiMaggio wanted a demure, domestic housewife. DiMaggio had insisted Monroe must remain fully clothed at all times and break out of her "dumb blonde" typecasting, per the New York Post. As early as their honeymoon, he felt he was losing control of her and reportedly took to beating her. Monroe later said that "exposing my legs and thighs, even my crotch [in 'The Seven-Year Itch'] — that was the last straw." Nine months into their marriage, Monroe tearfully announced her divorce from DiMaggio.

Based on recovered letters shared between them, it seems that DiMaggio resented Monroe when she was sexually or professionally empowered, but he warmed to her when she was in pain.

Marilyn Monroe said Joe DiMaggio treated her 'special'

After retiring from baseball in 1951, Joe DiMaggio was ready to start a new life. The following year, the former Yankee asked a friend to set up a date with a rising movie star named Marilyn Monroe. She'd reportedly caught his eye after appearing in a photo shoot with Chicago White Sox player Gus Zernial. 

The pair had a quiet first date at The Villa Nova. Monroe reportedly arrived two hours late and was unsure if she'd hit it off with the Yankee slugger. "I expected a flashy New York sports type, and instead, I met this reserved guy who didn't make a pass at me right away," she said in her biography. "I had dinner with him almost every night for two weeks. He treated me like something special." When their dinner was over, Monroe drove him home and confessed she knew nothing about baseball. According to Maury Allen's book "Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?", the former player's witty response was, "That's all right. I don't know much about movies" (via PBS).

They couldn't get married in a church

In 1954, after dating for nearly two years, news broke that Hollywood's most famous couple, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were getting married. Fans and paparazzi flocked outside San Francisco City Hall for a glimpse of the newlyweds. Due to previously being married and divorced, the two couldn't tie the knot in a church. According to the book "Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe," DiMaggio's civil marriage to Monroe resulted in him being excommunicated by the Catholic Church. After their eventual divorce, DiMaggio was scolded by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. 

In the book "Dinner with DiMaggio," he recounted the story of Sheen reprimanding him for marrying Monroe. "You should have never married her in the first place. This isn't the type of woman who gives people moral values," Sheen told him. DiMaggio stormed out of his office but not before declaring, "No one is going to tell me who to love and who to marry." 

After their wedding ceremony, the couple told the press they were hoping to have kids. "I'd like to have six," Monroe said. "I'm going to continue my career but I'm looking forward to being a housewife too."

Trouble started brewing on their honeymoon

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio's honeymoon included a trip around the world. The two newlyweds went to Japan and were welcomed like royalty. DiMaggio was there to promote the sport of baseball in the country, and Monroe tagged along as a supportive wife. Even though this trip was supposed to be about DiMaggio, his new wife stole the show.

During the trip, Monroe was asked to perform for the troops in South Korea. She agreed to do so, but it meant leaving DiMaggio behind. When the press asked him how the trip was going, DiMaggio revealed that he hadn't spent much time with his new bride. "Everything has been fine and we've enjoyed our trip, the only thing that I have to complain about is that I haven't seen very much of Marilyn," he said.

The attention Monroe received from fans and the press in Japan seemed to anger DiMaggio. In the book "Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe," Monroe's hairstylist, Gladys Whitten, recalled Monroe telling her that DiMaggio threatened to divorce her during their honeymoon.

Marilyn Monroe's iconic subway grate scene was 'the last straw'

As Marilyn Monroe's career continued to soar, Joe DiMaggio struggled to accept her popularity and bombshell image. It all came to a head as the movie star filmed the iconic subway grate scene for "The Seven Year Itch." The infamous "flying skirt scene" was filmed in New York City in front of fans, the paparazzi, and her husband. 

He was left irate as she reshot the scene over and over in front of the crowd that was cat-calling her. According to Monroe, this scene that cemented her in Hollywood history would cause the demise of her marriage. Director Billy Wilder recalled seeing an upset DiMaggio on set. "He didn't like what he saw, or what everyone else was seeing," he described in his biography "Nobody's Perfect" (via Yahoo!). 

The scene caused a vicious argument between the couple and Monroe was allegedly seen with bruises on her body the following day. She later said, "... exposing my legs and thighs, even my crotch — that was the last straw."

DiMaggio was reportedly very controlling

As the husband of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio had trouble adjusting to her level of fame. Despite their careers, DiMaggio wanted a traditional marriage and more importantly, a traditional wife. Once they got married, his controlling nature became more apparent. According to the New York Post, DiMaggio took control over her career. 

He began controlling how Monroe dressed and even turned down movie roles on her behalf. DiMaggio did not like when his wife outshined him and would lose his temper with her when she did. DiMaggio's only son, Joe Jr., admitted to seeing his father beat Monroe. In the book "Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love," he recalled one night hearing the couple argue. "After a few minutes, I heard Marilyn race down the stairs and out the front door, and my father running after her. He caught up to her and grabbed her by the hair and sort of half-dragged her back to the house. She was trying to fight him off but couldn't."

DiMaggio's controlling behavior made Monroe miserable, with actor Brad Dexter recalling her saying, "I've discovered that the man is absolutely obsessed with jealousy and possessiveness," she told him. "He doesn't want to know about my business. He doesn't want to know about my work as an actress. He doesn't want me to associate with any of my friends. He wants to cut me off completely from my whole world of motion pictures, friends, and creative people that I know" (via PBS).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Marilyn Monroe filed for divorce

The marriage between Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio quickly turned ​​tumultuous with alleged abuse, affairs, and jealousy. After nine months, Monroe filed for divorce in California and cited mental cruelty as the cause. Her attorney announced it publicly and the movie star looked distraught as he spoke on her behalf. When DiMaggio saw the news clip, he reportedly wrote his wife a letter hoping to reconcile. "My heart split even wider seeing you cry in front of all those people," he wrote in the letter later auctioned. 

According to the NY Daily News, Monroe broke down in tears during her court testimony. She described DiMaggio as cold and moody during their marriage. "I expected to find love, warmth, affection, and understanding in my marriage," she told the court. "Instead I found complete indifference and coldness." She stated DiMaggio would go days without speaking to her without telling her why and would prevent her from having visitors at the house. 

She also claimed the dysfunctional marriage affected her health, something her business manager also testified. Despite his alleged indifference, DiMaggio reportedly never got over his ex-wife. Following their divorce, according to the book "Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love," he began dating women that looked similar to Monroe and even spent $10,000 on a life-size doll that looked like her.

DiMaggio came to her rescue

After Marilyn Monroe filed for divorce from playwright Arthur Miller in 1961, she reportedly fell into a deep depression. The star was even forcefully admitted to a psychiatric facility in New York and diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. According to the book "Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love," when she unable to leave on her own, Monroe called one person for help –- her ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio. He immediately made his way to the hospital to rescue her. He reportedly demanded to see his ex-wife and didn't take no as an answer from the staff. 

"I'll give you five minutes to get her out here," he was reported as saying. "Or I'll tear this f***ing place apart brick by brick." After securing her release, he quietly took her to Florida, where he was working at the Yankees' training camp. Away from the public eye and the invasive New York press, Monroe was able to relax as she recovered from the traumatizing experience.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

There were rumors that they'd marry again

Despite rumors of Marilyn Monroe dating Frank Sinatra in 1962 and rumored affairs with Robert and John F. Kennedy, Joe DiMaggio never stopped believing in a future with her. Years following their divorce, DiMaggio did everything he could to win her back. The two reportedly rekindled their relationship, and according to PBS, he told friends that he would eventually remarry his ex-wife. Former Yankee teammate Jerry Coleman recalled seeing them walking around New York City during that time, looking as blissful as ever.

Morris Engelberg, DiMaggio's former lawyer, detailed his plans to remarry Monroe in the book "DiMaggio: Setting the Record Straight." "The date of their second marriage was set: August 8, 1962," Engelberg writes. "But the kiss he gave her that day was far different from the one he had hoped for" (per News24). In a tragic twist of fate, that would be the day Monroe was buried.

Joe DiMaggio mourned Marilyn Monroe's death

On August 5, 1962, Joe DiMaggio, along with the rest of the world, received the tragic news of Marilyn Monroe's death. She was found dead in her home of an apparent drug overdose. Authorities at the scene called DiMaggio to break the news due to Monroe not having any known relatives to inform. According to Biography, he was the one to claim her body and arranged a private, small funeral. A devastated DiMaggio had his own thoughts about what caused Monroe's untimely death. He not only blamed the Kennedys for her death, but also banned them from the funeral, along with Frank Sinatra, who introduced her to them. DiMaggio never forgave his former friend for that. 

"The whole lot of Kennedys were lady-killers," DiMaggio told John Pistano in the book "Dinner with DiMaggio." "And they always got away with it. They'll be getting away with it a hundred years from now." Later in the book, the heartbroken baseball star even suggested knowing who killed Monroe. "I always knew who killed her, but I didn't want to start a revolution in this country," he said. "She told me someone would do her in, but I kept quiet."

 He never stopped caring for and honoring his ex-wife. Up until his death in 1999, he had fresh roses sent to her crypt every week.

Joe DiMaggio mentioned Marilyn Monroe in his last words

Joe DiMaggio apparently loved Marilyn Monroe until the very end. After their divorce and her death, he never remarried. He never truly got over her death or came to terms with how she died. "I'll go to my grave regretting and blaming myself for what happened to her," DiMaggio said in "Dinner With DiMaggio" (via People). "Sinatra told me later that 'Marilyn loved me anyway, to the end.'" 

In 1999, the slugger died at the age of 89 from lung cancer and there was one thing on his mind. It was reported that while on his death bed he whispered, "I'll finally get to see Marilyn" (per ABC News). Throughout the years, it seemed he held onto the good memories with his ex-wife. One item he treasured was a handwritten apology note from Monroe. 

"Please accept my apology and don't, don't, don't, don't be angry with your baby — she loves you. Lovingly, your wife (for life) Mrs. J.P. DiMaggio," the note read. Page Six reported that the note was tucked in his wallet for years. In 2020, the note, now ripped into four pieces, was available for auction by Christie's. This love story didn't end as the two would've wanted, but it's clear they loved each other until the very end.