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On This Date in Sports January 14, 1954: A Wedding of American Icons

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It’s a wedding of baseball and Hollywood royalty as Joe DiMaggio the retired legend from the New York Yankees weds Marilyn Monroe at City Hall in San Francisco. Monroe was one of the biggest stars of the silver screen who considered to be the beautiful woman in the world. The tumultuous marriage would last just 274 days, though DiMaggio pined for her the rest of his life.

For more than a decade, the biggest star on the diamond was Joe DiMaggio. Emerging on the Yankees after Babe Ruth retired, Joltin’ Joe became the face of the Yankees for more than a decade. DiMaggio was an All-Star in all 13 seasons he played for the Yankees from 1936-1951, losing three prime years due to military service during World War II. Joe DiMaggio’s best year was in 1941 when he posted a record 56-game hitting streak. He would win the second of three American League MVP awards that season. While with DiMaggio roamed Centerfield the Yankees won the World Series nine times in 13 seasons. At the age of 37, Joe DiMaggio retired following the 1951 season with nearly as many career home runs (361) as strikeouts (369).

Born Norma Jeane Baker on June 1, 1926, Marilyn Monroe was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood as the 1950s began. Considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world, Marilyn Monroe was one of the most bankable stars, with some of the highest grossing movies at the time. With this brought the press who constantly surrounded her trying to find out every detail of her personal life.

After retiring, Joe DiMaggio who previously been married to actress Doth Arnold asked to arraign a meeting with Marilyn Monroe. The two began dating in 1952 and were married at City Hall in San Francisco, while Monroe was involved in a contract dispute with 20th Century Fox studios. The wedding was supposed to be a secret, but the press found out and flooded the office to get a glimpse of the two icons. Like DiMaggio, Marilyn Monroe had previously been married. Her first marriage came as a teenager and ended when she began her modeling career.

The wedding faced an early test while the couple was on their honeymoon in Japan as Marilyn Monroe left her husband for a few days to perform for American Troops stationed in Korea. Upon returning home, Marylin Monroe settled her contract dispute and began working on the “Seven Year Itch” directed by Billy Wilder. While she was shooting a scene in New York in September, that had her skirt pushed up while standing on a subway grate, DiMaggio became enraged as he did not approve of the sexualization of his wife. The scene would come to define Marilyn Monroe’s career as much as the 56-game hitting streak defined DiMaggio.

The troubles could not be overcome, as Marilyn Monroe filed for divorce a month later, citing mental cruelty. Marilyn later married playwright Arthur Miller, and allegedly had an affair with President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, who was serving as Attorney General. Joe DiMaggio never remarried and always hoped to get back with his ex-wife. In 1961, when she was placed in a mental hospital, DiMaggio signed for her release, threating to tear the hospital apart.

In 1962, the tumultuous life of Marilyn Monroe came to an end under mysterious circumstance on August 5, 1962. The death was ruled a suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Though some suggest she may have been murdered due to her connection to the Kennedys. Joe DiMaggio held resentment to Hollywood and the Kennedys afterward. During a ceremony for Mickey Mantle in 1965, DiMaggio refused to acknowledge Robert Kennedy who was by then the Senator from New York.

The rest of his life, Joe DiMaggio never stopped loving Marilyn Monroe as he had roses sent to her grave twice a week every week until he died in 1999. However, he refused to ever discuss the relationship as he would end an interview that brought it up and never talk to that reporter again. Not discussing Marilyn Monroe was always a specific instruction given ahead of any interview or story involving the legend who was named the “Greatest Living Player “ in 1969.