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Joe DiMaggio Couldn't Stand Being Married To Marilyn Monroe

Entertainment | January 14, 2020

June 2, 1955: Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio appear in public, together though estranged. Source: Bettmann/Getty

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe had the All-American romance that wasn't. It was a marriage between a handsome hero of the baseball diamond and a blonde bombshell who set hearts racing. On paper, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were the perfect pair but when they were together they were like oil and water. DiMaggio’s jealousy over Monroe’s fame and the way other men looked at her fed his insecurity which lead to nine months of horrible fighting and mental anguish. Cracks in their relationship were apparent from the onset, but even though DiMaggio couldn’t stand being married to Monroe he loved her until the day he died.

Marilyn Didn't Want To Meet Joe

source: Getty Images

In 1952, Joe DiMaggio started his lifelong obsession with Marilyn Monroe. After seeing her in Monkey Business and Don’t Bother to Knock the slugger reached out to Monroe through a mutual fan. She was less than enthused about going on a date with someone famous for being a playboy, telling a friend:

I don’t care to meet him. I don’t like men in loud clothes, with checkered suits and big muscles and pink ties. I get nervous.

Nervous or not, Monroe went on the date and from then on, the two were inseparable. The press hounded the gorgeous couple in spite of the fact that DiMaggio and Monroe rarely went out in public together. When they married on January 14, 1954, the press showed up in droves for the San Francisco courthouse nuptials.  

These Crazy Kids Had Nothing In Common

source: itsblossom

Aside from being super hot, Monroe and DiMaggio didn’t share anything in common and they didn’t have mutual interests outside of sex. While that’s all well and good for a couple of weeks, getting married is a whole different ball of wax. Monroe grew up in the foster system with a series of abusive guardians, so she dropped out of school and got married in order to escape. Because of that, much of her adult life was spent reading, studying, and trying to play catch-up with everything she missed in her youth.

While Monroe tried to find culture in every aspect of life, DiMaggio really didn’t care about anything but baseball. Most nights he stayed home drinking and smoking while Monroe went out - if he let her go out. He was incredibly protective of her and tried his hardest to control what she wore and how she acted, but she was too strong-willed for him to really change her.

Their Honeymoon Was The Beginning Of The End

source: mashable

After getting married in January 1954, the happy-ish couple took off for their honeymoon in Japan. When they arrived overseas Monroe was asked to take a trip to Korea so she could entertain troops on a whirlwind USO tour. DiMaggio couldn’t really complain, she was doing her duty for America after all, but inside he was boiling. She performed 10 shows in four days across the country, and instead of traveling with her DiMaggio opted to go through a series of baseball clinics in Tokyo, and the whole time he couldn’t stop thinking about all of those military men who hadn’t seen a woman, let alone a woman like Marilyn Monroe in months.

Dimaggio Flipped Out When Monroe Filmed The Seven Year Itch

source: 20th Century Fox

There’s no question that DiMaggio loved Monroe, but he couldn’t handle being married to a sexual icon. He wanted her to quit the business and be a housewife, but when he married her she was at the precipice of major stardom. She wasn’t about to give all of that up to stay home and make lasagna for 2.5 kids. DiMaggio was obsessive about the way Monroe looked, he wanted her to stop dressing provocatively and cover up. When he stopped by the set of The Seven Year Itch he lost his mind.

The night that DiMaggio came to the New York City set for the beloved Monroe film it was on the night that Monroe was shooting the famous scene where she stands over a subway grate and hot air blows up her skirt. Supposedly Monroe didn’t know anything about it, but when DiMaggio saw his wife being objectified by onlookers he blew a gasket. He and Monroe got into a massive dust up on set which not only embarrassed the actress but made her realize that the two couldn’t be together.

Dimaggio’s Son Remembers The Couple Fighting Constantly

source: PBS

DiMaggio and Monroe put on a brave face in public but in private the couple were falling apart. The slugger made rules for his wife: she had to run by all of her roles by him, she had to dress conservatively, and she wasn’t supposed to outshine him in the press. If she disobeyed he’d ignore her for days, or he might get physical. Joe DiMaggio Jr. remembers waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of his dad and stepmother having a knock-down, drag-out fight, which is the last thing we think of when we think of Marilyn and Joe. DiMaggio Jr. said:

I was asleep downstairs and I woke up to the sound of my father and Marilyn screaming… 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.

Less Than A Year After Their Marriage The Couple Called It Quits

source: pinterest

After all the violence, the emotional abuse, and the non-stop fighting Monroe finally filed for divorce in October 1954, nine months after her marriage to DiMaggio. She appeared in the Santa Monica Superior Court where she gave 15 minutes of testimony to Judge Orlando Rhodes. Monroe said:

I voluntarily offered to give up my work in hopes that it would solve our problems… but it didn't change his attitude. I hoped to have out of my marriage love, warmth, affection and understand, but the relationship was one of coldness and indifference.

After Monroe was awarded a divorce, DiMaggio lost it. He started stalking his ex-wife; he followed her while wearing fake beards, he had Frank Sinatra bug her phone, and one night while he was rip roaring drunk with Ol’ Blue Eyes he suggested going to her place and wrecking things. DiMaggio thought that Monroe was having an affair with her vocal coach - which was none of his business at this point - and he got so enraged that when he and Sinatra got to West Hollywood around 11:30 pm he smashed down the door of Florence Katz, a 50 year old woman who was decidedly not Marilyn Monroe. Katz called the cops when she woke up to DiMaggio and Sinatra standing over her. When the cops arrived they made sure the stars were left out of the official report.

They Continued Seeing Each Other On And Off Until Monroe's Death

source: flickr

Even though they had one of the most tumultuous relationships of the Golden Age of Hollywood, these two star-crossed lovers continued seeing each other off and on until Monroe passed away in 1962. DiMaggio may have been a horrible husband who actively hated his wife’s career and clothing choices, but Monroe felt that he was the only person she could trust.

After divorcing playwright Arthur Miller, Monroe was checked into a psychiatric hospital and it was DiMaggio who was able to have her released. He brought her to Florida to stay out of the spotlight. Unfortunately, their friendship never had a chance to blossom. Monroe died of a drug overdose on August 5, 1962, and DiMaggio arranged her funeral. He may not have enjoyed being her husband, but he clearly loved her.

Tags: Joe DiMaggio | Marilyn Monroe

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Jacob Shelton

Writer

Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.