Marilyn Goes From Catalina Island to Wrigley Field

Norma Jeane’s stay in Avalon is commemorated at the Catalina Island Museum

An article about the Catalina Country Club for Atlas Obscura mentions Marilyn’s time living on Catalina Island from 1943-44, when the idyllic spot in the Los Angeles bay was being used as a wartime naval base, and her first husband, Jim Dougherty, was in training as a Merchant Marine.

The article states that Norma Jeane Dougherty, as she was then known, was living with Jim near naval HQ in the Avalon area of the island. It also states that she worked in a candy store, which I have not heard before.

As far as I know, Norma Jeane was a housewife until Jim was sent to serve abroad in 1944, and she returned to the mainland where she took her first job at the Radioplane munitions plant – soon to be discovered by army photographer David Conover, who helped her to launch a modelling career.

However, the article also mentions another aspect of Catalina Island history which would later bring Marilyn to the East Coast during her promotional tour for Love Happy. On July 9, 1949, she attended a pro-celebrities baseball match at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. But was she aware of the Chicago Cubs’ long-standing links to faraway Catalina?

“Wrigley Field is known the world over as the home of the Cubs but it wasn’t the first Wrigley field that players called home. That’s an honor reserved for a field on an island just off the coast of Southern California in Los Angeles County: Catalina Island. And the field isn’t the only Cubs connection the island can boast.

At what is now the Catalina Country Club in the town of Avalon, an extensive collection of black-and-white photos help record the Cubs connection to Catalina Island. It began in 1919, when chewing gum tycoon William Wrigley Jr. acquired the majority interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company.

In 1921, Wrigley became majority owner of the Chicago Cubs and created Wrigley Field in Avalon Canyon as the location for the Cubs’ spring training. From 1921 to 1951 (excepting the World War II years) the Chicago Cubs eschewed popular states like Florida and Arizona and instead trekked to what was then known as Santa Catalina Island for the spring training season. Enthusiastic locals welcomed the players and looked forward to the renown the Cubs-in-residence brought … Ronald ‘Dutch’ Reagan’s time on Catalina also coincided with the Cubs years as he was a radio sportscaster covering the team.”

Marilyn plays team mascot at Wrigley Field, Chicago in 1949. (Photo by Art Meyers)

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