Men and women across the world adored Marilyn Monroe throughout her lifetime, but there were only three men the iconic star loved enough to return the sentiment.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Monroe was thrust into the spotlight for her talent, sense of style and ability to capture anyone’s attention. Known for playing the blonde bombshell in a number of movies, the Hollywood legend’s film credits include Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Prince and the Showgirl, The Misfits, Some Like It Hot and All About Eve.
However, as much as Monroe is known for her work in entertainment, her personal life garnered an equal amount of fascination. Many of her relationships were highly documented — as were her rumored affairs, like the one she allegedly had with former President John F. Kennedy.
The JFK speculation may never be confirmed, but Monroe did have several romantic relationships that changed her life. The Monkey Business actress was married three times: first to James Dougherty, then to Joe DiMaggio and finally to Arthur Miller.
Keep scrolling for more details about Monroe’s marriages.
1. James Dougherty
Dougherty married Monroe in 1942 when she was 16 and he was 21. The Bus Stop star was in danger of being sent to an orphanage after her foster parents decided to move back to West Virginia. (Her relationship with her birth mother was famously troubled, in part due to her mother’s experiences with paranoid schizophrenia.)
Monroe’s marriage to Dougherty allowed her to escape the orphanage, but she was forced to drop out of school to become a housewife. By 1944, Monroe’s career had started to pick up after she was noticed by a photographer and began modeling. Two years later, Monroe and Dougherty divorced.
In his 2000 book, To Norma Jeane With Love, Jimmie, Dougherty claimed that he could not cope with the person Monroe became once she started attracting fame. He said he was in love with Norma Jeane, but “Marilyn Monroe” was a person that he didn’t know. Dougherty married twice more after Monroe and had three children before he died in 2005.
2. Joe DiMaggio
The movie star’s second marriage was to New York Yankees outfielder DiMaggio. Their relationship was short-lived, but it made major waves in Hollywood. The duo connected in 1952 and tied the knot two years later at San Francisco City Hall. Monroe shocked the world by wearing a black suit to the occasion, as opposed to a traditional white wedding dress.
In October 1954, however, Monroe filed for divorce after less than nine months, citing “mental cruelty.” The iconic image of Monroe posing over a subway grate for The Seven Year Itch caused one of the couple’s biggest disagreements. The photo is now a cornerstone of American pop culture, but it infuriated DiMaggio. Their fight about the scene snowballed into a host of other problems, and their divorce was finalized shortly after the film’s release. The indelible image of Monroe, however, lives on.
3. Arthur Miller
Monroe’s third and final marriage was to Arthur Miller, a playwright and screenwriter whose play Death of a Salesman won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Though Miller and Monroe officially connected in 1955, some observers think they met in 1951 after Elia Kazan introduced them — and that they had a brief fling before Monroe met DiMaggio.
After Monroe finalized her divorce from the baseball star, Miller left his first wife and married the actress in 1956. The couple had some trouble with their contrasting lifestyles: Miller was a writer, while Monroe was a superstar. They also experienced plenty of hardship throughout their romance. Monroe had several miscarriages during their relationship, and Miller was accused of being a communist sympathizer during the height of Cold War paranoia.
In November 1960, the couple announced their split, and they divorced the following year.
Monroe never married again after Miller, and just over one year after their divorce, the actress died of a barbiturate overdose on August 4, 1962. Her funeral was held at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
Even decades after her death, however, Monroe’s status as a beloved American icon has only grown larger. In May 2022, Kim Kardashian made headlines for wearing Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress to the Met Gala, further securing the Golden Globe winner’s place in fashion history.
Monroe has also been the subject of several movies, including 2011’s My Week With Marilyn (starring Michelle Williams as the titular character) and 2022’s Blonde (starring Ana de Armas). Before Blonde‘s release, some critics denounced it for portraying a fictionalized version of Monroe’s life, as it’s based on a novel rather than a biography.
The controversy only proves how deeply the world still loves Marilyn Monroe, even 60 years after her death.
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