Towards the end of her life, they had gotten extremely close. Joe DiMaggio wanted to marry her again but his wish could not be fulfilled due to Marilyn's untimely death at the age of 36.
Like most couples in Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio too had a turbulent relationship right from the start. When the two began dating, they were at the height of their respective careers, and naturally, this garnered a lot of attention. While Marilyn was a dreamy, sought-after actress, Joe was a former centerfielder of the New York Yankees. When she first met him, the star thought he would be a "stereotypical arrogant athlete," as per The Vintage News. However, after she got to know him better, they ended up exchanging marital vows in January 1954. But as fate would have it, the power couple parted ways less than nine months after their union. And this was just the beginning of their iconic love story.
The rebel stars began their relationship by eloping and tying the knot at the San Francisco City Hall. "I don’t think it was a surprise at all," shared Jerry Coleman, one of Joe DiMaggio’s Yankee teammates," according to PBS. "The greatest woman in the world and the greatest guy in the world. It was a perfect match." But the marriage didn't last due to Joe's possessiveness. According to Marilyn's biographer, Donald Spoto, he didn't even want her to shoot the iconic scene where she stands on a subway grate in the white dress for The Seven Year Itch. The scene was a publicity stunt and people began gathering to see her in Manhattan. Due to their difference in views, the two went their separate ways soon after this.
After their divorce, Marilyn fell ill and had to be hospitalized. The person sitting next to her at that time was Joe. He rushed to be at her side in February 1961 when she was being forcibly institutionalized. After being released in his care, she called Joe "my hero." Towards the end of her life, they had gotten extremely close. He was the stable man in her life at that point who wanted to marry her again. But his wish could not be fulfilled due to Marilyn's untimely death at the age of 36. Even though the two chose to live different lives, they could not deny their unbreakable connection. They remained friends until the end, with the Some Like It Hot actress admitting that she would have died a long time ago if it wasn't for him.
"If it weren’t for Joe, I’d probably have killed myself years ago," she told a friend before her death in 1962, according to New York Post. When her lifeless body was found in her home, there was no family to call but Joe. He immediately flew from New York to LA, identified her body, and held a small, private funeral for her. He even made it a point to design a headstone for the iconic actress. According to the Independent, he was absolutely inconsolable at the funeral. He was reportedly heard saying "I love you, I love you" over and over like a sign of regret. "I’ll go to the grave regretting and blaming myself for what happened to her," he told Dr. Rock Positano, according to the book, Dinner with DiMaggio: Memories of an American Hero that he co-authored, reports PEOPLE.
"Sinatra told me later that 'Marilyn loved me anyway, to the end,'" he expressed. Joe knew he was never going to see her again but he couldn't forget her either. Maybe, he found solace in fulfilling a promise she once made him take. Years ago, she told him to send roses to her every week, and he kept the promise until the day he died in 1999. He would send fresh roses to her grave a few times a week. "Six fresh long-stemmed red roses, three times a week … forever," she had said. Even as he lay dying, Marilyn was all he could think about. "I’ll finally get to see Marilyn again," were his parting words.
Cover image source: Getty | Photo by Douglas Grundy (L) Getty | Photo by Keystone Features (R)