An apology note written by Marilyn Monroe to her second husband Joe DiMaggio, which was discovered in the late baseball icon’s wallet, is up for auction.
Written on a dry-cleaning ticket, the note is signed “your wife (for life)”; in the end, the couple’s marriage only lasted nine months.
“Dear Joe, I know I was wrong! I acted the way I did and said the things I did because I was hurt – not because I meant them-and it was stupid of me to be hurt because actually there wasn’t enough reason-in fact no reason at all,” Monroe writes.
“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.”
As auction house Christie’s notes in its listing, the letter reflects the “loving and yet challenging relationship” between the two American cultural icons. Read on to learn more about how their marriage began and ended — and why divorce didn’t spell an end to their story.
At surface level, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s romance sounds like it could have been plucked from the pages of a Hollywood script.
She was a star of the big screen, riding a dizzying career trajectory; he was a star of the field, counted among the best baseballers his country had ever seen. It was almost laughably perfect.
“The greatest woman in the world and the greatest guy in the world … I don’t think it was a surprise at all,” fellow New York Yankee Jerry Coleman told PBS of the couple’s union.
It may have been the ultimate ‘all-American’ coupling, but Monroe and DiMaggio’s romance was anything but perfect. Marrying in 1954, the couple split just nine months later. However, their story didn’t end there.
In 1952, DiMaggio and Monroe were introduced on a blind date. At the time, DiMaggio — 12 years Monroe’s senior — was six months into his retirement from the Yankees. At 26, she was steadily rising through the ranks in Hollywood.
In her autobiography My Story, Monroe admitted she had been reluctant to meet the athlete because she expected him to be a “flashy New York sports type”.
However, Dimaggio treated her “like something special” and she was surprised by her feelings towards him, writing: “[I]nstead I met this reserved guy who didn’t make a pass at me right away. I had dinner with him almost every night for two weeks.”
One complication in those early months was distance; the pair’s work kept them on opposites sides of the US — Monroe on the west coast, DiMaggio on the east.
In My Story, Monroe explains the arrangement, and society’s view of it, was a major factor in their discussions about marriage.
“We knew it wouldn’t be an easy marriage. On the other hand we couldn’t keep going forever as a pair of Cross-country lovers. It might begin to hurt both our careers,” she wrote.
“After much talk Joe and I decided that since we couldn’t give each other up, marriage was the only solution to the problem.”
She also noted that she and DiMaggio were “very much alike”, despite their differences. “What Joe is to me is a man whose looks, and character, I love with all my heart.”
Following an engagement on New Year’s Eve 1953, Monroe and DiMaggio married days later in a civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall on January 14, 1954. They were mobbed by reporters.
It was the second wedding for both. Before her acting career began, Monroe was married to Jim Dougherty, a family friend, from 1942 to 1946. DiMaggio had been in a five-year marriage with actress Dorothy Arnold, with whom he had a son, Joe Jr.
They spent their honeymoon in Japan, as DiMaggio was already heading to the country for a business trip.
During the holiday, Monroe was asked by the United States Army to entertain the troops in Korea. She went ahead with the trip, dazzling the soldiers with live musical performances in a four-day tour.
On her return to Japan, according to Richard Ben Cramer’s Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, Monroe told her husband of the rapturous response she’d received, declaring: “Joe, you never heard such cheering.” In response, he said, “Yes, I have.”
It’s believed the Korea trip sparked fights between the couple for the rest of their honeymoon.
The nine months the couple were married were reportedly teeming with tension. Their issues largely stemmed from contrasting expectations of one another’s role in the relationship.
As Vanity Fair reports, DiMaggio was believed to have wanted a stay-at-home wife, while Monroe had hoped for a “fun and spontaneous” husband — roles they were respectively unsuited for.
There are also plenty of claims of jealousy and possessiveness on DiMaggio’s part over Monroe’s skyrocketing fame, and discomfort with her bombshell Hollywood image. He reportedly wanted her to get out of acting altogether.
The classic scene in The Seven Year Itch in which Monroe’s white dress flutters over a New York subway grate was reportedly the final straw for DiMaggio, who was “livid” by the image.
“They had a terrible fight, and the marriage was over after nine months,” Vanity Fair reported. There are also claims DiMaggio had become physical in their altercations.
A friend of the late baseballer has since claimed the marriage ended because the couple wanted children but Monroe was unable to bear them.
“From Joe’s point of view, they didn’t stay married because Marilyn was not able to have children … It was not about the published reports of jealousy and not wanting to take a back seat to her fame,” Dr. Rock Positano, author of Dinner With DiMaggio, told People.
On October 6, 1954, Monroe — her attorney standing by her side — announced to reporters that she intended to divorce DiMaggio on the grounds of ‘mental cruelty’.
LIFE magazine reported at the time: “Almost nobody professed surprised when they broke up. The conflict in their two careers seemed inevitable.”
DiMaggio never wed again, while Monroe went on to marry playwright Arthur Miller.
Following Monroe’s separation from Miller in 1960, she and DiMaggio reconnected. On Christmas Eve 1960, the actress noted in a letter that her ex-husband had sent her “a forest-full of poinsettias” along with a card reading “Best, Joe”.
LIFE magazine reports: “DiMaggio came back into her life and, by all accounts, desperately tried to bring some stability and calm to an existence that was veering dangerously out of control.”
At the time, the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes star was struggling with drug and alcohol addition and health issues.
In early 1961 she was admitted to a psychiatric ward in New York, an experience that took a harrowing turn and left the actress begging to be released.
“It was Joe DiMaggio who rescued her, swooping in against the objections of the doctors and nurses and removing her from the ward,” Vanity Fair reports.
There are claims DiMaggio hoped to rekindle their romance, even asking Monroe to marry him again.
He was also ‘protective’ of her, and was said to be furious with mutual friend Frank Sinatra for introducing her to John F. and Bobby Kennedy — both of whom she is believed to have had affairs with. “He didn’t think they were good people for her to be around,” Positano claimed.
Marilyn Monroe was found ԁеаԁ in her Los Angeles home on August 4, 1962, at the age of 36. Her cause of ԁеаtһ was determined to be an overdose of barbiturates.
As PBS reports, DiMaggio directed his ex-wife’s funeral, inviting only a small number of her family and friends to attend the service — barring the public and most of Hollywood.
When questioned by studio executives as to why ‘their people’ shouldn’t be present for the funeral, DiMaggio reportedly replied: “Tell them if it wasn’t for them, she’d still be here.”
During the funeral at Los Angeles’ Westwood Memorial Park, DiMaggio was reported to have bent over the coffin, kissed it and said, “I love you. I love you.”
For 20 years after her ԁеаtһ, the sporting icon had two red roses roses delivered to Monroe’s crypt three times a week. According to the New York Times, DiMaggio’s standing order with Parisian Florist ended in 1982 — and he had offered no explanation.
According to one biographer, Monroe had made DiMaggio promise to place flowers on her grave every week if she were to die before him.
The final words
Joe DiMaggio ԁıеԁ of lung cancer on March 7, 1999.
More than three decades after Monroe’s ԁеаtһ, it seems she was on his mind in his final minutes.
According to DiMaggio’s lawyer and confidant Morris Engelberg, who was at his bedside when he ԁıеԁ, the icon’s final whispered words were: “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.”