Friday, January 14, 2005

January 14th, 1954

Joe DiMaggio Marries Marilyn Monroe

This isn't really baseball history per se, but it is an interesting event to remember and reflect on. These days people tend to look back at this with the distance of fifty years and view it as nothing special. Athletes marrying celebrities isn't that unusual, the most recent being the Are-They-or-Aren't-They? couple of Enrique Iglesias and Anna Kournikova. I think this beguiles the scale of the marriage in the popular consensus at the time. An approximate modern-day equivalent would be if Michael Jordan married Cameron Diaz. DiMaggio had been retired from the Yankees for three years but had been very popular during his time with them, making the All-Star team each of his thirteen seasons and won three MVPs. Monroe was coming off the release of How to Marry a Millionaire and Gentleman Prefer Blondes. One of America's most popular athletes marrying one its most popular actresses was seen as genuine news, the New York Times dedicated a full page of their main section to a photo and story about the marriage--something I don't think Anna and Enrique got.

DiMaggio probably did not enjoy the publicity, he would later say that he "never thought [the marriage] was anybody's business " but his own. Although the couple divorced by October--although due to the vagaries of
California divorce law they would stay legally married until October 1955--DiMaggio clearly still cared for Monroe. After her death, he claimed the body, arranged the funeral and paid for the casket and crypt. Furthermore until his own death in 1999, DiMaggio had red roses placed on her grave three times a week. Like many celebrity couples, they may not have lasted long, but it is a shame that the magnitude of the marriage is now mostly forgotten.

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