January 14th - 1954. On this day 74 year ago glamorous Marilyn Monroe marries baseball great Joe DiMaggio. At least they say he’s great. I dunno, I’m leaning the other way.
Look, I fully recognize times were different and that’s cool. There are so many (so so many) things I’d like to see make a come back. Family values, telephones with cords, 1956 baby blue Thunder Birds with white rim tires and white removable tops you can pull off and let your hair fly in the breeze while cruising the strip like the goddess that you are. Controlling, abusive and entitled men? Meh. Not so much.
Now before you come at me, I also agree that Marilyn (or, Norma Jean Baker at birth) wasn’t the picture perfect image of a domesticated woman as was expected at that time. She was combative, determined, rebellious and the ultimate no-no, successful. She was also desperate for attention, love, admiration and recognition. Now, listen very closely because I’m going to say this in my inside voice… aren’t we all seeking those things to some degree?
Joe was Marilyn’s second husband, preceded by the 21 year old James Dougherty, whom she married at just 16 years old for reasons some say were out of necessity as she had no real care giver at that time, given her mother’s on again off again addiction issues. No one really knows anyone else’s truth, but rumor has it she was never really in love with James. In fact, the same is said about Joe. She married James for security, loved the fame and attention she got from Joe, but neither man truly had her heart. That only belonged to her third husband, Arthur Miller, she said years later.
While she claimed years after her and Joe’s marriage ended there was little love, no one can argue that their relationship started off with a great deal of passion. America’s sweethearts, if you will. Smiling for the camera in each shot later to be plastered in every magazine and newspaper.
While it seemed like all rainbows and butterflies in the court of public opinion, the truth is the relationship between Marilyn and Joe took a swift left turn to a real bad place in a quick hurry. Something her close friends had been warning her about long before they were married. They’d all expressed concerns at the early signs of Joe’s controlling behavior, and he certainly wasn’t hiding the fact he believed all women belonged in the kitchen, urging her to quit her career. Well, after they wed, the more notoriety and recognition Marilyn got, the more hostile and angry Joe got. This leading to Marilyn’s final straw when he beat her up in their hotel room after her photo shoot we now know as her in her white dress, blowing up over the air duct. The photo that quite possibly gained her more notoriety and fame than any other. The one that made her a household name. You see, Joe asked her not to do that shoot but she insisted. Marilyn was good at playing dumb to appease the audience needed to catapult her career in the time that she lived, but that girl was no idiot.
A year after their divorce in 1955, Marilyn married her 3rd and final husband, writer Arthur Miller. She was married to Arthur for about 6 years (1955-1961) until that relationship also ended, just one year before her untimely death.
While the end of Joe and Marilyn’s marriage wasn’t unicorns and glitter like it appeared to be in the beginning, Joe showed the world and Marilyn he truly did love her by placing flowers at her gravesite twice a week for two decades after her death. While some attribute this to feelings of guilt and less about his love for her, I choose to be the optimist. What about you?