67 Years Ago: Marilyn Calls Time On Joe

On October 6, 1954 – 67 years ago this week – a tearful Marilyn, with Hollywood’s top divorce lawyer at her side, announced her separation from husband Joe DiMaggio in a hastily-arranged press conference outside the couple’s marital home on North Palm Drive in Beverly Hills. Here’s how the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported it.

“HOLLYWOOD — Marilyn Monroe, red-eyed from weeping, said through her attorney today ‘there is no chance of reconciliation’ with Joe DiMaggio. She ordered her divorce suit filed immediately. Friends of the couple tried to get the nine-month-old marriage back on its feet by urging them to reconcile. But the weeping actress, near hysteria, told Jerry Giesler, her attorney, that any patch-up ‘is out of the question.’ ‘I discussed the possibility of a reconciliation with her,’ Giesler said, ‘but she said no. There is a conflict of careers and a general incompatibility. Yes, Joe has struck out.’ The former Yankee slugger remained in the couple’s rented Beverly Hills home, but Giesler said he assumed the ex-ball player planned to move to an apartment soon. The divorce suit, to be filed in nearby Santa Monica, will charge DiMaggio with the usual mental cruelty. Marilyn will not seek alimony from the currently jobless sports figure, and the couple accumulated no community property during their brief union. Michael Chekhov, Marilyn’s vocal coach, said the famous star had become ‘morose’ recently over her wedded life. He said long before their recent gay whirl of New York she confided to him that ‘Joe is a wonderful guy but we don’t have enough in common.’”

With lawyer Jerry Giesler

A selection of photos taken that day by George Silk, plus a write-up from LIFE magazine, is posted here.

“Even for Hollywood, where unhappy endings for the real love stories come with almost unseemly haste, this ending seemed abrupt. It was only last January that the press was mobbing the San Francisco city hall, waiting for Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe to emerge as newlywed man and wife. Now the press was gathered again in front of the DiMaggio home in Beverly Hills, waiting for Joe and Marilyn to come out as newly-separated man and wife.

Nobody had been surprised when they got married—they had been going with each other for two years. Nobody doubted their love they had smiled happily through their married life. And almost nobody professed surprised when they broke up. The conflict in their two careers seemed inevitable.”

Of course, Marilyn and Joe remained close even when their divorce was finalised in 1955, and would resume their friendship after she parted from third husband Arthur Miller in 1960. Rumours of a reconciliation were rife (although denied by Marilyn), and when she died, it was Joe who claimed her body and arranged her funeral.

Understandably, their relationship is still remembered fondly by many fans. However, it must also be acknowledged that the marriage was brief and turbulent, and that Marilyn walked away by her own choice and apparently never regretted it. An excellent article about the darker side of their celebrated romance is posted on the Irish Marilyn Monroe Fan Club website.