"YOU ARE an evil bastard! I should have stayed with Joe!"
One of the more colorful quotes that erupted from Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits, as her marriage to Arthur Miller turned to dry dust on the Nevada desert.
This comes from the latest MM tome, Marilyn and Joe -- Legends in Love. It was written, at least partially, by the late C. David Heymann. He had a string of sizzling celebrity bestsellers behind him, before his death in 2012.
•THIS is a problematic book. Many factual inaccuracies, interviews that give no hint where or when they were conducted or conducted at all -- many just picked up from other sources? The book relies heavily on known fabricators in the Monroe canon.
Still, push this aside, and there seems some fresh material, mostly from one of DiMaggio (and Monroe's) good friends, George Solotaire. And also from the late Joe DiMaggio, Jr. Most interesting is the news that Monroe and DiMaggio resumed their relationship not in 1961, after he removed her from confinement in a psychiatric clinic ("I want my wife!" he shouted at terrified staff.) Rather, the former spouses began secretly seeing each other in 1958, after MM's third miscarriage with Arthur Miller. By then she was through with love. For Miller, anyway.
There were other men, of course -- Sinatra, Yves Montand, ("If Joe could sing and dance, he'd be Yves," remarked MM of Montand's resemblance to DiMaggio), one Kennedy or another, even, most unhappily, one of her doctors. But it was DiMaggio to whom she turned time and again for assurance and comfort. Theirs was certainly an atypical, but intense and ongoing relationship, one that neither could fully understand or control. Monroe endured some physical abuse during the nine-month marriage, but after their divorce MM suggested Joe enter therapy for his "issues." He did, and later credited Marilyn's advice for a calmer temperament -- though his relationship with his son would always be strained. (MM remained close to the younger DiMaggio. He was one of the last people to speak to her on the phone, the night of her death.)
One amusing and characteristic story has DiMaggio, prior to their marriage, unhappy when somebody brings up one of MM's past boyfriends. Joe exploded: "Do we have to talk about all her fucking past lovers -- anyway, Johnny Hyde was just a little creep who used her."
Monroe, who deeply loved -- but was not in love with famed agent Hyde -- corrected DiMaggio, furiously. But she did more. She nailed him to the spot and gave him, "without malice or regret," a blow by blow of her entire sexual history. She wanted it out of the way, a future non-subject. "He just sat there and took it -- well, what else could he do?" recalled George Solotaire.
•THE LATTER chapters of the book -- like all latter chapters in all Marilyn books--are deeply depressing. One can never know the truth -- especially in this particular biography. But even if half the tales and assumptions and speculations are true, Marilyn was close to madness. (After one week of treating MM in 1956, Anna Freud diagnosed the star as a "paranoid schizophrenic.")
But, do we take all the tales of vindictive rages against the Kennedys and threats of tell-all press conferences seriously? She might have been "crazy," but she wasn't crazy enough to destroy her career. I don't think so, anyway. Her drug addiction, enabled by her doctors -- too bedazzled to refuse her -- was her true foe. (DiMaggio wanted to take Monroe's doctors to court, and for good reason.) Heymann appears to dismiss the Byzantine conspiracy murder theories, believing her death was an accident or an "impulsive" un-planned suicide. I tend toward that theory myself, knowing a good deal about MM's final days. As for Joe, he blamed both Kennedy brothers, Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack and Monroe's two final doctors for her death. But he did not believe she was murdered.
In any case, Joe DiMaggio was the one man, practically the one human being, Marilyn ever knew, who only gave, never took, and never talked. His face of grief at her funeral was all we needed to know about his love for her and her worth as a human being. Her charm, zest, intelligence, humor and super-sensitivity come through even in the most dire re-tellings of her life.
Joe's very last words, on his deathbed, were, "Well, now I'll get to see Marilyn again."
•P.S. A new book coming by the esteemed photographer Elliott Erwitt, titled Regarding Women. Erwitt took photographs of hundreds of the most fascinating and famous women in the world. The cover shot of this book -- Marilyn! (He shot her on the set of The Seven Year Itch and later The Misfits.)
He once said of MM: "She was bright, surprisingly bright. An instinctive type -- especially when the situation seemed right. Rarely does one meet a truly witty woman. Marilyn Monroe was one. Above all she was funny, an amusing, witty person."