He was the one man by her side through thick and thin. He was inconsolable when she passed away and continued to love her until he died.
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio's relationship was a tumultuous one right from the beginning. They garnered too much attention when they were dating at the height of their popularity. Marilyn was a famous and sought-after actress and he was the former centerfielder with the New York Yankees. Initially, she thought he would be a "stereotypical arrogant athlete," according to The Vintage News.
They exchanged their vows in January 1954 and less than nine months later they parted ways. Their iconic love story begins much after that though. Their marriage and parting was only the beginning. The rebel stars started their relationship by eloping and marrying at the San Francisco City Hall.
"I don’t think it was a surprise at all," said Jerry Coleman, one of Joe DiMaggio’s Yankee teammates, according to PBS. "The greatest woman in the world and the greatest guy in the world. It was a perfect match."
However, what broke their marriage was because of how possessive he was. He didn't even want her to shoot the iconic scene in the white dress standing on a subway grate for The Seven Year Itch, according to her biographer Donald Spoto. The scene was a publicity stunt and crowds gathered to see her in Manhattan. They parted ways soon after because their worldviews were so different.
Soon after the divorce, when she got sick once, he was the one next to her at the hospital. He was the one who rushed to her side in February 1961 when she was forcibly institutionalized. When she was released in his care she called him "my hero." They had gotten close again towards the end of her life and he was the stable man by her side. He wanted to marry her again but she died untimely.
Despite choosing different lives, they remained friends and Marilyn had once said that she would have died a long time ago if not for him. “If it weren’t for Joe, I’d probably have killed myself years ago,” Marilyn Monroe told a friend before passing away in 1962, reported New York Post.
She was found dead in her house and there was no family to call their own but him. He flew from New York to LA, identified her body, and had a small, private funeral for her. He even designed the headstone. He was absolutely inconsolable at the funeral, according to Independent.
He was heard whispering “I love you, I love you" almost like a sigh of regret. He was never going to see her again. But he fulfilled a promise she had taken from him. Many years ago, she had told him that she wanted roses sent to her every week and he kept that promise. Until he died in 1999, he would send fresh roses to her grave a few times a week. She had said, "Six fresh long-stemmed red roses, three times a week … forever."
Her death had hit him hard. "I’ll go to the grave regretting and blaming myself for what happened to her," Joe DiMaggio told Dr. Rock Positano, according to the book, Dinner with DiMaggio: Memories of an American Hero that he co-authored, as reported by People. “Sinatra told me later that ‘Marilyn loved me anyway, to the end.’"
He was unable to get her out of his mind even as he lay dying. "I’ll finally get to see Marilyn again," were his parting words.
Love like that is rare and unseen. For him, she was the love of his life and till his dying breath, he kept her preserved in his heart. People can only hope that they find love like that at least once in their life.