When Robert Mitchum First Met Marilyn

Today’s Irish Times includes a fascinating article about Robert Mitchum’s time in Dingle while filming Ryan’s Daughter in 1969. One of the many tales he shared with locals was of his meeting the teenage Norma Jeane, who would later be his leading lady in River Of No Return (1954.)

“Mitchum told them about his time working on the aircraft production line at Lockheed during the second World War, when he became fast friends with a red-headed Irishman, Jim Dougherty, who used to share the lunch box prepared for him by his teenage wife, Norma Jean Baker, later to become Marilyn Monroe.”

Thanks to Megan McGuirk

Actually, Jim was a native Californian of proudly Irish descent. He worked at Lockheed from 1941 until mid-1943, when he joined the Merchant Navy. Mitchum’s meeting with Norma Jeane most likely occurred during the first year of her marriage to Jim. While Jim has acknowledged meeting Mitchum at Lockheed, he denied introducing him to his wife. Many years later, the men were reunited for a rather awkward television interview, alongside Jane Russell (who had briefly dated Jim at Van Nuys High, before meeting him again with Norma Jeane at a school dance.)

While Jim acknowledged meeting Mitchum at Lockheed in his own memoirs, he denied introducing him to Norma Jeane. But whatever the truth of his story, Mitchum was one of Marilyn’s favourite co-stars and she considered him a friend.