People learned to not mess with “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, especially when his ex-wife Marilyn Monroe was involved. Six years after they split, and following her 1960 divorce from playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn’s psychiatrist urged the “emotionally shattered” star to “rest” at the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in New York, biographer Charles Casillo tells Closer.
Locked in a ward for the severely disturbed, Marilyn managed to contact Joe. “He went to the front desk and said, ‘I want my wife. And if I don’t get her, I’m going to take this hospital down brick by brick,’” says Casillo. “She was out the next day.”
Marilyn inspired that kind of devotion. The fragile star, who grappled with addiction, fell deeply in love with Joe, Arthur and Frank Sinatra, and they tried to rescue her from bad influences — and herself. “She brought out the protective nature in the men she became involved with,” explains Casillo, author of Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon. “But it was never enough.” Perhaps none of them truly understood her. “Maybe I’m too demanding,” Marilyn once said. “Maybe there’s no man who could put up with all of me.”
What was Marilyn seeking? “She was always trying to be looked at for more than her body,” says Casillo. She thought she found that with the 36-year-old retired Yankee baseball hero, whom she met in 1952. “I expected a flashy New York sports type, and instead I met this reserved guy who didn’t make a pass at me right away,” she said. “He treated me like something special.”
But after they married, Joe’s passion turned into jealousy. When he witnessed her filming the famous flying dress scene in The Seven Year Itch, “that was the last straw,” Marilyn said. Their marriage lasted just nine months.
Her 1956 union with Arthur Miller, whom she first likened to “a cool drink when you’ve had a fever,” lasted nearly five years, but also ended in tears. She thought Arthur — who “talked to her about serious things,” says Casillo — appreciated her brains and beauty. Sadly, miscarriages and Arthur’s waning desire for her took a toll. Arthur wrote in his diary “what a disappointment she was.” Marilyn saw the entry and was devastated. Their divorce helped drive her to the psych ward.
Marilyn recovered and began dating Frank Sinatra in 1962. He “really, really loved her,” Casillo says. When her troubles began hurting her career, Frank announced that they would make two movies together. But his lawyer advised, “‘Don’t marry her. She’s gonna kill herself,’” Casillo says. “’If she’s married to you, you will go down in history as the person who killed Marilyn Monroe.’”
Sadly, he was right. On Aug. 4, 1962, Marilyn tragically died of an overdose of barbiturates at 36. The men who loved her remained haunted by the woman they couldn’t save. “Years after she died,” Casillo says, “Sammy Davis Jr. said that Marilyn, ‘still she hangs like a bat in the heads of the men who met her, and none of us will ever forget her.’”