55th Anniversary Memorial Week: August 1-5, 2017

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The countdown is on to the 2017 Memorial Week in Los Angeles, marking 55 years since Marilyn Monroe left us and honouring her memory.  Immortal Marilyn is working hard to bring fans several memorable events, and this is the page to visit to keep up on the latest!

Memorial Week takes place from August 1-5, 2017 and is a gathering of Marilyn fans from around the world.  Immortal Marilyn is proud to plan and sponsor a number of special events during this week once again!  Check out all the details and check back regularly for updates and news!

Accommodations

As it has been for many years, Immortal Marilyn’s “home base” will be the Hollywood Orchid Suites Hotel.  Walking distance from Hollywood Boulevard and attractions such as the Walk of Fame, Kodak Theatre, and Graumann’s Chinese Theatre, the Orchid is ideally located for a visit to Hollywood!  The hotel is taking reservations from IM members already – book soon, as it fills up fast.

There are a number of other hotels in the are fans can consider for their accommodations, especially as the Orchid fills up, including the famed Roosevelt Hotel, the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel which is in close proximity to the Orchid Suites, and the Magic Castle.

If you would like assistance with finding a roommate to share the costs of a hotel room, please feel free to contact us at immortalmarilyn@gmail.com.

Memorial Week Events List

Immortal Marilyn is in the process of planning all of our events for Memorial Week.  Other events will be hosted by Marilyn Remembered, which has a schedule and details here.  Here is a schedule of events as they currently stand.

August 1, 2017

Marilyn’s Hollywood:  A Fact-Based Tour of Cinema’s Greatest Icon

In conjunction with the Marilyn Remembered Fan Club, join us for a guided tour of Los Angeles and Hollywood, lead by Elisa Jordan of LA Woman Tours.  You’ll learn about the people who helped shape Marilyn’s life and the places that inspired her. What you’ll see:

  • The orphanage where she dreamed of becoming a star
  • The former beauty salon where she first became a blonde
  • The restaurant where she met Yankee Slugger Joe DiMaggio on a blind date
  • The house (well, the gate anyway) where she passed into eternity.

The tour will start at 10:00 AM.  Marilyn’s Hollywood takes place in a comfortable mini coach. We will be getting out at various stops for photo opportunities, so remember to bring a camera.  Note:  Seating is limited, we recommend you purchase tickets as soon as possible.

To learn more about the tour and to reserve your seat, click here.

August 2, 2017

Immortal Marilyn Pool Party

Location: Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills (formerly the Beverly Carlton).

Time:

RED CARPET ARRIVAL: 2:30pm

POOL PARTY: 3-6pm

VIEWING OF MARILYN’S ROOM: 6-7 pm in small groups

Cost: $80 per person.

Details: The kick-off event for Memorial Week is IM’s traditional pool party!  This year we will gather around the pool at the Avalon Hotel where Marilyn herself lived in her starlet years and was frequently photographed.  This event will include a buffet-style meal and drink credit in the ticket price.  To make this day extra-special, attendees will have the opportunity to visit and take photographs inside Marilyn’s suite at the hotel, where her famous 1952 Life magazine cover was shot!  Although it’s not required, it’s traditional to attend the pool party in 1950s attire, and feel free to come in your 50s swimsuit for a dip in the hourglass shaped pool where Marilyn was photographed!  SOLD OUT, NO TICKETS AVAILABLE

A variety of fantastic raffle prizes are being gathered, and each attendee will receive ten raffle tickets as part of the ticket price.  Additional raffle tickets are available for purchase, priced as follows:

$1 each

7 for $5

15 for $10

30 for $20

Tickets will be sold at the pool party.  Cash only please.  Must be present to win!

August 3, 2017

Marilyn’s Hollywood Tour.  Hosted by Elisa Jordan of LA Woman Tours, a second tour will take place based on demand (tour requires minimum of 10 guests.  (See above for full information)  To learn more about the tour and to reserve your seat, click here.  SOLD OUT FOR THIS DATE.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes On The Big Screen.  Marilyn Remembered is hosting Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on the big screen at the famous TCL (Graumann’s) Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  Details and ticket pricing as follows, ticket can be purchased at Fandango.

6:00 PM – VIP Package Tour
7:00 PM – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
9:00 PM Private Reception

Pricing:

$39.00: VIP Package
– Movie ticket, a large popcorn, a large drink
– Tour ticket
– Private reception with a glass of champagne
– A Marilyn souvenir

$10.00: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Showing Only

August 4, 2017

Santa Monica Beach Dinner and Sunset Toast.

Location: Mariasol Restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier

Time: 5:30 – 8:30 PM

Cost: $40

Details:  Join us for a private dinner in the Del Sol Room at Mariasol Restaurant, located over the water on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier with unparalleled views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean .  Ticket includes a buffet dinner, non-alcoholic beverages (a bar with private bartender will be available on an individual tab basis), and a sparkling wine toast at sunset, all hosted by the fabulous staff at Mariasol.  After dinner, join us as we go out to the beach put our feet in the sand where Marilyn once walked and raise a second glass to her memory on the eve of her passing.

Tickets can be purchased via Paypal at lkasperowicz@gmail.com.  Please email for information on purchasing by mail. TICKET SALES ARE CLOSED.

August 5th, 2017  

Memorial Service at Westwood Memorial Park.  The annual memorial service for Marilyn Monroe, held by Marilyn Remembered, will take place at 11 am in the chapel at Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park. Inside seating for the service is fully reserved at this time, but attendees can still listen to the service from outside.

An Evening With Marilyn: A Special Charity Event at Hollygrove.  A charity event at Hollygrove, formerly the Los Angeles Orphan’s Home, hosted by Marilyn Remembered.  Details can be found here.  SOLD OUT.

 

LOVE OUR LOGOS???  Check out IM’s Memorial Week store at Red Bubble featuring all of Melody Lockard’s incredible designs and get your souvenir gear!

To keep up on the news, join the discussion, and enjoy the excitement of planning this amazing week of Marilyn events, please join us in our Memorial plans Facebook Group!

 

 

The 55th Memorial For Marilyn Monroe – Thanks to Our Sponsors and Donors!!!

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The 55th Memorial for Marilyn Monroe is in the books, and we here at IM have a lot of thanks to give.  IM hosted two fun events that we could not have managed on our own.  Many people gave of their time, money, and Marilyn collections to make our raffles, door prizes, and general atmosphere a success.

 

We’d like to specifically thank:

Melody Lockard for her astonishingly beautiful logos created just for our events.  Buy our logo merchandise here.

Tracie Finite for her graphic design help creating the Pool Party Beverly Carlton key tags, check out her website here.

Holly Beavon for her help with arranging prizes, providing an audio system to the Pool Party, singing our Happy Birthday tribute, and generally being awesome!  Visit Holly’s website here.

Jill Adams for allowing us to store mountains of items at her home and delivering them to us at the Avalon for our events!

Gary and Oscar Vitacco-Robles (buy Gary’s books here) for their invaluable assistance in setting up for the pool party, and everyone else who pitched in to get us ready!

 

Cash Donations were offered by:

David Marshall

Shaney Evans

American Icon/American Rehab Campuses

 

Raffle and Door Prizes were gratefully received from:

Gary and Oscar Vitacco-Robles

Carolien Krijnen

Michelle Morgan

The Shaw Family

Tom Kelley, Jr.

Douglas Kirkland

Boze Hadleigh

Flatiron Books

David Wills

Eric Woodard

Richard Hanna

Tina Garland

Susan Bernard

Nathalie Terhorst-Lensink

Joshua Greene

Heather and Sean Williams

Melinda Mason

Debra Holden

Colin Glassborow

Emily Finch

Jill Adams

Marcelline Block

Eiji Aoki

Suzanne Sumner-Ferry

Mary Sims

Leslie Kasperowicz

 

More special thanks to our awesome venues and their staff:

The Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills

Mariasol Restaurant

The Orchid Suites Hotel

 

THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS!

Marilyn’s Contemporaries: Judy Garland

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Frances Ethel Gumm, born in Minnesota on June 10, 1922, was the youngest of three girls by married couple Frank and Ethel Gumm. The family of five was settled in the city of Grand Rapids, where the former vaudeville parents had purchased a movie house. Little Frances was known only as “Baby,” and at just three years old began singing with her sisters in between shows at their theater.

 

Judy as a child

Searching for better business opportunities, the Gumms bid farewell to Grand Rapids and migrated across the country to California, where Frank purchased a new theater in Lancaster. There, Judy lived an average childhood for a little girl with a mother pushing her children to make it in show business. The Gumm sisters sang and danced their hearts out for performances both in California and across the country. But as time went on, it became clear that Baby Gumm was destined to become the star. She stood out among her siblings, and the audiences melted at the child’s impressive, mature vocals and poignant performances.

 

It would be close to ten years before Judy finally got her chance at becoming a star. After a successful booking in Chicago in 1934, Judy returned to Los Angeles with a newfound confidence. In fact, it was during this trip that George Jessel gave the sisters the stage name Garland. Judy had chosen the name Judy after the song of the same name by Hoagy Carmichael. She continued perform at significant venues such as Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Cal-Neva Lodge. It was at the Lodge that Judy privately put on a chance performance for four important men from Hollywood. One of these men was agent Al Rosen, who finally convinced Ida Koverman of MGM to give Judy an audition. After vocal auditions, she was signed to the studio without a screen test. However, just as this beacon of light from MGM was shining her direction, she suffered a traumatic loss. Frank Gumm passed away just one month later as a result of fluid from an ear infection reaching his brain and spinal chord. This was a devastating loss, as Judy adored her father and was closer with him than her mother.

 

With the untimely passing of her father weighing heavily on her heart, Judy continued to pursue her work as an actress. She eventually landed her first role in a full-length film titled Pigskin Parade. She was disappointed in the final product, and in how she looked on screen. It was around this time that MGM began the deadly routine put upon many of its stars: taking prescription medication to control weight. At just fifteen years old, Judy was regularly consuming Benzedrine, Phenobarbital, and Seconal tablets.

 

At the premiere of Broadway Melody of 1938

By February of 1937, Judy’s vocal coach, Roger Edens, saw an opportunity to utilize a studio event to showcase her vocal talent to her superiors: Clark Gable’s birthday party. Using an original story and music by Carmel Myers, Edens rewrote material specifically for Judy to perform at Gable’s party. That song was called “Dear Mr. Gable.” She received an incredible reception from the crowd, especially from Gable himself. As a result of this event, Judy received just the boost she needed to become cast in a big feature film to be titled Broadway Melody of 1938, in which she performed the song she made famous at Gable’s party that day.

 

Not long after, songwriter Arthur Freed was determined to find a vehicle specifically for Judy. That project became the timeless musical The Wizard of Oz. Several years prior, Mayer had bought the property where it remained in his studio’s possession for years before it was decided that this would be the perfect film to center on a young, doe-eyed Judy Garland, who the public was vastly coming to adore.

 

Not long after Oz, Mayer awarded Judy a seven year contract at MGM. She was having a difficult time at home; her mother had recently eloped with a neighbor of the family who Ethel had been seeing even during her marriage to Frank Gumm. This was traumatizing for Judy, and distanced her even further from Ethel, who was already trying to control Judy’s finances.  Her next film would be her first real adult role: For Me And My Gal. Judy campaigned for newcomer Gene Kelly to play opposite her in what would become his first picture.

 

It wasn’t long before Judy met musical arranger David Rose. There was a large age difference; Judy was only nineteen years of age while David was thirty-one. Ethel made it known that she was against their union, but the two eventually married in the summer of 1941, a marriage that would last only a year and a half. They grew farther apart as time went on, each becoming too busy in both of their careers.

 

Judy with daughter Liza

Judy then began a romance with director Vincente Minnelli beginning on the set of Meet Me In St. Louis. The two married in 1945. The first of Judy’s children, daughter Liza Minnelli, was born the following March. It wasn’t long before Judy was back to work at MGM, reunited with her former co-star, Gene Kelly, for The Pirate. By this time, she and Minnelli were already having difficulties in their marriage. They would remain together for only six years.

 

Her heavy reliance on pills made it difficult for her to appear at the sets on time. There were frequent changes in her behavior, and MGM was already putting her under enough pressure. In 1949, she was replaced by Ginger Rogers for the film The Barkleys of Broadway, and after that, Betty Hutton for the musical Annie Get Your Gun. These events would lead to her suspension from the studio, a suspension she was relieved of after just a few months of rest, to return to film Summer Stock. By 1950, she was officially fired from MGM.

 

Penniless with no job, Judy soon ran into manager and producer Sid Luft, who she had previously met several years before in Hollywood. They began to see each other while Judy’s divorce from Minnelli was being finalized. She soon signed with the William Morris Agency, where she was thrust into the world of radio shows with big names such as Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

 

In April of 1951, Judy received a tremendous reception for her stage comeback at London’s Palladium, a performance that inspired a European tour. Judy became Mrs. Sid Luft in 1952, and she gave birth to second daughter Lorna that same year in November. After Lorna’s birth, Judy dove straight into filming the musical remake of A Star Is Born (1954), after which her third and last child, son Joey Luft, was born.

 

******* With another marriage on the rocks, she struggled to pay off her debts with theater engagements after settling in London during another comeback at the Palladium. Her divorce from Luft, who had become her manager, wouldn’t become final until 1965, after which she immediately began a romance with little-known actor Mark Herron, who she married that same year.

 

In the 1960s

One of the highlights of her stage career came in April of 1961, when she put on a historic performance at Carnegie Hall. Still relentlessly adored by the public, she was able to reach audiences at home when CBS picked up “The Judy Garland Show,” which ran for four years before it was dropped in 1964.

 

She divorced Herron in 1967, and in 1969, just months before her death, married night club businessman Mickey Deans. Tragically, at just forty-seven years old, Judy passed away suddenly as the result of an overdose of Seconal tablets.

 

“What it amounts to, really, is that I’ve been a little girl who hasn’t quite known where she is going. But now, at least, I know. Finished? Why, I’m right at the beginning of something.” –Judy Garland, 1967

Personal Connections

Judy was introduced to dangerous prescription drugs as a teenager at MGM to help her sleep, keep her awake, and control her weight. Marilyn also battled prescription drug addiction, frequently consuming large amounts of sleeping pills for her insomnia. Both women relied heavily on their therapists, and would both die from an accidental barbiturate overdose.

 

Both women were distant from their mother; Marilyn never saw her mother after the 1940’s due to her mental illness and in Judy’s case, the two only grew more apart as time went on. Ethel was overly controlling of her daughter’s finances and personal life, and allowed her to be mistreated by MGM.

 

Judy was introduced to psychoanalysis early on in her career.. Marilyn began psychotherapy in 1952, but delved into it deeper beginning in 1955 at the suggestion of Lee Strasberg, and continued to see a therapist often throughout the rest of her life.

 

Judy and Marilyn at the 1962 Golden Globes

Judy and Marilyn even met on a few occasions. Two of which were the 1959 dinner to welcome Nikita Khrushchev to Hollywood, and the 1962 Golden Globes ceremony. In 1967, Judy spoke about Marilyn in an article for Ladies Home Journal:

 

“That beautiful girl was frightened of aloneness – the same thing I’ve been afraid of. Like me, she was just trying to do her job. To garnish some delightful whipped cream onto some people’s lives. But Marilyn and I never got a chance to talk [about our struggles]. I had to leave for England, and I never saw that sweet, dear girl again. I wish I had been able to talk to her the night she died.”

 

Marilyn and Judy had a lot in common in their personal lives, both negatively and positively. But, one thing can be said for sure about them both: neither will be forgotten. Their contributions to movies, television, and the tremendous light they gave to the world during their brief but beautiful time on this earth will live on forever.

 

-Ky Monroe for Immortal Marilyn

Book Review: Cursum Perficio: Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood Hacienda

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Cursum Perficio: Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood Hacienda

By Gary Vitacco-Robles

1999 iUniverse

ISBN 0595010822

 

For anyone who might be planning on going down to Los Angeles this August, one of the major highlights will be the annual trek to 5th Helena, the small cul-de-sac that ends with the gates leading to Marilyn Monroe’s final home. To be able to actually walk up to these gates is an experience no member of the Marilyn Community will ever be able to forget. The one drawback however is the frustration that you can’t go any further. You can stand in front of the gates, you can jump up as high as you can for a micro-second glimpse, but you can’t do what literally every MM fan dreams of—stepping onto the property and going inside.

 

Of course, even if by some miracle the folks who live there decided to invite you in, it wouldn’t be the same. The house has changed since 1962; the images you hold in your mind of her furnishings, her wall hangings, her presence, are long gone. But, thank God for Gary Vitacco-Robles because due to this one man’s dream and persistent research, you can go inside. Better yet, you can go inside in 1962. His book Cursum Perficio pushes those gates wide open and says Come on in, let me show you around.

 

For those of you new to Marilyn lore, the first thing you are probably asking is just what the heck is Cursum Perficio? The Latin phrase appears on a group of four tiles forming a coat of arms at Marilyn’s front door. The loose translation comes to “End of My Journey.” Although the original owners of the home obviously meant the phrase to mean that they have found their small haven at the end of a long journey, a cozy place of respite, after Marilyn’s death the tiles took on a more prophetic feel, one several biographers have focused on with a kind of doomsday music playing in the background. I seriously doubt Marilyn herself ever thought of those little tiles in that way. I’d rather believe that she found them charming and hoped that she really had found a tiny haven at the end of a strenuous journey. But there is so much more to those words once they graced the door of one of the most fascinating women of the 20th century. Gary’s book will fill you in on nearly everything having to do with the modest hacienda style house at the end of 5th Helena Drive.

 

Like any Marilyn Monroe fan, you’ve seen dozens and dozens of pictures of Marilyn’s house—the forecourt, the pool, her bedroom, her kitchen, her bathroom. You’ve pored through the auction catalogs to see much that was once in this house, everything from her glassware to ashtrays, from wall hangings to her stereo. But where did everything go? Which room led into which? You can study the pictures but it’s still difficult to get a good idea of how the house was laid out, what one would see when the front door was opened. Here again, Gary provides his readers with everything you need and want.

 

The book is lushly illustrated with drawings and photos, (among the illustrators is one Eric Monroe Woodard of Hometown Girl), floor plans, layouts of the home and property as well as the furnishings. Items that had appeared in the Christie’s auction return to their natural setting, arranged as Marilyn had placed them while decorating and planning her small nest in Brentwood.

 

But there’s a lot more here than just “and this is where she had her coffee table.” Following Marilyn’s last year from her return to Los Angeles, her initial sessions with Dr. Greenson and her introduction to Eunice Murray, the reader is allowed to follow Marilyn through her final months from house searching to the purchase of 12305 5th Helena, from her trip to Mexico and her furniture buying spree to the careful placing of each object. Much has been written about the house’s “barren” aspect without any mention that the house was a project “in progress”, that Marilyn was a busy woman who was taking her time and doing it right. Cursum Perficio allows the reader to visualize Marilyn’s overall decorating plans as well as showing just how far she had come in realizing her dream of the perfect home.

 

It doesn’t end there — the book also covers such items as Marilyn’s daily schedule before and after the Something’s Got To Give filming, where she shopped, what her daily routine was while renegotiating her contract. We see Joe DiMaggio reenter her life, her friendships with Frank and the boys, her plans for upcoming projects such as “I Love Louisa,” (later made as What A Way To Go! with Shirley MacLaine). Add the coming together of her final photo sessions with Stern and Barris as well as her last interview with LIFE magazine writer Richard Meryman, and you’ve a wonderful book capturing her final summer.

 

Although the book does cover Marilyn’s passing, there is no investigation or speculation here. And that’s as it should be. The book is about Marilyn’s last months of life, the planning and decorating of her home, her plans for the future. And that is what should appeal most to those interested in Marilyn’s final abode. This is not a book about where Marilyn Monroe died. Cursum Perficio is a book about where she lived.

 

David Marshall

 

 

 

In Memorium: David Gainsborough-Roberts

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David Gainsborough-Roberts was a legend in the world of Marilyn collecting, in fact, collecting full stop. He will be known to every Marilyn fan as the owner of one of the biggest collections of personal/film worn memorabilia in the world.

And yet, we knew him. He was not one of those anonymous collectors who scoops up a precious item and never allows it to be seen again. He was extremely kind and generous with his pieces, displaying them all over the world, giving accompanying talks on Marilyn and interacting with her fans. Always friendly, always charming.

His passion for collecting began when he was nine and an elderly aunt gave him a fragment of HMS Victory.

Born in Buxton, Derbyshire in 1943, His early aspirations to become an actor soon waned and he became a promoter for of all things, professional wrestling. This was followed by a period working for his father’s merchant bank, Hardy Roberts & Sons. In true David style, he then entered the world of music promotion (his clients included The Kinks).

However, his life changed forever when he purchased Marilyn’s dress from ‘There’s no Business Like Showbusiness’ at Christie’s in 1991.

“I was buying certain stuff, not with any idea of buying Marilyn, when, in 1991, I bought her dress from There’s No Business Like Show Business. The sale became such a big smash hit. It got in the papers and everybody seemed to be talking about it. There was a near riot in Christie’s when I bought it. That was how it all started: April 29th 1991. It was a day that changed my life – and goodness knows I had no intention of it doing so. When I got back to Jersey, my mother said: I don’t know what you’ve been doing, but the phone won’t stop ringing!”

Even though you could say Marilyn was the biggest part of his collection, it was a mere fragment in an unbelievable time capsule. Other items included keys and coats from the Titanic, Winston Churchill’s hat, John Lennon’s cufflinks, Elvis’ ring, guns owned by Billy the Kid and John Dillinger, and even, Queen Victoria’s underpants. There were hundreds of items, and he was content to share them all. He once described his passion for collecting as ‘turning the pages of a history book’. However, it was Marilyn that people wanted to know about ‘she kind of took over’ he said. People from all over the world would contact him and he was always happy to respond.

He made his home in Jersey, and was a huge part of island life. The Jersey Museum commissioned a portrait of him in 2016 to thank him for their most successful exhibition ever, on, of course, Marilyn.

In November 2016 David sold his collection, raising £1.5m for charities on his beloved Jersey. On selling, he said “I hope my insatiable appetite for the curious, the famous and the infamous will inspire a new generation of custodians”.

His brother described him as someone who had a zest for life whom everyone loved, a character. And it was true.

Thank you, David, on behalf of Marilyn fans everywhere.

Book Review: Dinner With DiMaggio

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Dr Rock Positano was thirty-two, with his own practice in Manhattan specialising in non-surgical treatments for foot and ankle problems, when he met Joe DiMaggio in 1990. At seventy-six, DiMaggio still suffered from the effects of a botched foot operation which had brought his baseball career to an abrupt end in 1951. Over the next decade, until Joe’s death in 1999, Positano became his New York  companion and confidant. A notoriously difficult man to know, DiMaggio was both deeply private and intensely concerned with his reputation. First announced back in 2015, Dinner With DiMaggio: Memories of an American Hero promises a rare glimpse into the private life of a frequently misunderstood man, and although occasionally prone to sensationalism, for the most part it delivers.

Joe was a fisherman’s son, and his father – a Sicilian immigrant to San Francisco – had wanted him to follow the family trade. Having disappointed him at an early age, Joe grew closer to his mother. Throughout his life, he strove to avoid any hint of scandal. This perfectionism made him fiercely self-critical, and equally intolerant of others who failed to meet his high standard. He came face to face with one of his own idols when President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who guided America through the Great Depression, saw him play in the 1936 World Series. After the game, the president got into a big limousine parked on the infield. “Joe, great catch!” he said, his hands cupped. “FDR was my hero,” Joe marvelled, “and he was admiring me!”

During World War II, his parents (like many other Italian Americans) were declared ‘enemy aliens’. It’s no surprise that Joe resented his military service. President Roosevelt barred him from overseas combat, and he was assigned to the USO entertainment division. But his patriotism was proved beyond doubt when he helped the FBI to track down a suspect in a 1959 narcotics case.

Joe met his first wife, showgirl Dorothy Arnold, on a film set. Their son, Joe DiMaggio Jr., was born in 1941, but the couple were soon embroiled in a bitter divorce. “Dorothy was always trying to get between my little guy and me,” Joe told Positano; nonetheless, even when she sued him for more money, Joe refused to disclose her infidelities (not to mention his own.)

Although he was a lifelong movie fan, Joe’s brushes with Hollywood left him unimpressed. In the late 1940s, he was dining at the Stork Club with some of the biggest names in the movie industry, including Marlene Dietrich and the Bogarts. “Those Hollywood big-shots were all baseball fans,” he recalled, “but they liked to talk about themselves more.” Charlie Chaplin came to the table and introduced himself to Joe, while pointedly ignoring the others. “I didn’t know that he was being blackballed by the entertainment industry and not welcome in Tinseltown,” Joe explained. “My companions and their huge egos were flabbergasted.”

From the New York Post to The Times, media coverage of Dinner With DiMaggio has mainly focused on his ill-fated second marriage to Marilyn Monroe, although it comprises only a small part of the book. “I knew better than to pry,” Positano says, claiming that Joe gradually opened up. “He also spoke with [lawyer] Morris Engelberg about Marilyn,” he adds, “but I never knew what he told each of us, and Morris and I never compared notes.”

Joe thought Marilyn was both beautiful and “highly intelligent,” as Positano revealed in a recent interview for People magazine. “He had a tremendous amount of respect for Marilyn because she was a really great actress.” Their marriage ended, Joe said, because “Marilyn was hurt by the woman thing – her inability to have children.” On their wedding day, Marilyn told reporters she hoped for six children; Joe wanted just one. She suffered from endometriosis, which made it extremely difficult for her to carry a pregnancy to term. Nonetheless, her star was rising when she married Joe, and babies seem not to have been an immediate priority. His jealousy, and her ambition, were more likely causes of the split. When crowds gathered to watch her standing over a subway grate during filming of The Seven Year Itch, columnist Walter Winchell dragged a reluctant Joe along. The couple separated shortly afterward. A few weeks later, Joe and Frank Sinatra tailed Marilyn as she drove to a dinner date, and broke into a neighbouring apartment. The resident sued, and the so-called ‘Wrong Door Raid’ was a rare public disgrace for Joe.

“Doc, Marilyn told me that no man ever satisfied her like I did,” Joe said. Although respectful in public, Joe apparently took a dim view of her third husband, Arthur Miller. Sinatra told Joe that Marilyn kept a photo of him hidden in a closet, which “drove Miller crazy and right to the divorce court.” This story was first published in Marilyn Monroe Confidential (1980), the ghost-written memoir of Lena Pepitone, her New York maid. Others, like Marilyn’s friend Amy Greene, have spoken of her sexual chemistry with Joe, although she would later write of being “attracted beyond my senses” to Arthur. Joe’s name was not cited in the Millers’ 1961 divorce, which was granted on grounds of mutual incompatibility.

In the final years of her life, Marilyn grew close to Joe again. Talk of reconciliation was rife, but she insisted they were just good friends. He allegedly blamed the Kennedys for her death. “They did in my poor Marilyn,” he lamented. “She didn’t know what hit her … my good friend, Frank Sinatra, was their pimp.” Joe had probably been hurt by Marilyn’s relationship with Frank, but by 1962, when her alleged involvement with John F. Kennedy occurred, the president had distanced himself from Sinatra. Positano repeats the tale of Joe snubbing Bobby Kennedy at Yankee Stadium in 1965.

But Marilyn had a long history of depression, and was addicted to sleeping pills. Joe told Positano that she would sometimes neglect her appearance. “Though Joe saw Marilyn’s behaviour become erratic, he was unsophisticated about mental illness,” Positano reflects. “I had the impression that Joe did not understand what happened. He was to regret it for the rest of his life.” He may have experienced a form of survivors’ guilt, which left him susceptible to the rampant gossip and conspiracy theories that have circulated ever since Marilyn’s death.

Marilyn was fond of Joe’s son, who was twenty-one when she died. Their frequent telephone conversations were apparently a cause of concern to Joe. It’s possible that the younger man could have developed a crush on Marilyn, but there is no indication that her own feelings were anything but maternal. These pitiful confessions expose Joe’s hidden insecurity, and at times feel uncomfortably intrusive. In later life Joe Jr battled alcoholism and died penniless, survivIng his father by only a few months. Although their relationship was further strained by “lies and exaggerations” in the press, Joe was devoted to his granddaughters and great-grandchildren. One of his proudest achievements was the opening of the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Florida. “Joe’s fatherly skills must have skipped a generation,” Positano concludes.

With well-chosen investments, lucrative advertising endorsements and an active role in the growing trade for sports memorabilia, Joe was a wealthy man. “All of us ballplayers have Joe to thank for a life after baseball,” said fellow legend Sandy Koufax, while Positano admitted, “I was impressed by his business savvy … Not bad for a high school dropout.” But Joe refused to consort with anyone he didn’t respect, regardless of their credentials. At the 75th anniversary gala for Time magazine, he turned down an invitation to meet the Clintons. On the other hand, he was friendly with former US diplomat Henry Kissinger, and the unlikely pair attended the 1997 World Series.

Although he never remarried Joe was still attracted to women, nursing a secret crush on supermodel Elle McPherson. Pop star Madonna would mention both Joe and Marilyn in her hit song ‘Vogue’, appearing as a Monroe clone in the video. During his final trip to New York in 1999, a frail Joe was in a nostalgic mood. “I miss Marilyn more than ever,” he confided. “Marilyn, Frank and me were all working-class kids. No one taught us this fame-and-fortune racket. In our own way, it wounded us all. But I can say I regret nothing. Well, almost nothing … Doc, we should have reached out to help each other. Marilyn, Frank and I tried to stand on our own. We didn’t do too well …”

 

-Tara Hanks