Roger Kahn, considered America’s greatest baseball writer, has died aged 92, the Los Angeles Times reports. His most famous book was The Boys of Summer (1972), in which he recalled his early days as a Dodgers fan. He also published Joe and Marilyn: A Memory of Love in 1986. The first stand-alone book on the explosive DiMaggio romance, it was a bestseller – although his portrayal of Marilyn was considered sleazy by some readers and critics, and her renewed friendship with Joe in her final years is omitted entirely.
“The problem with Joe & Marilyn is basically a problem with Joe and a problem with Marilyn. She slipped away, leaving friends who still protect her and others who gossip about her, and he has declined to speak from his heart.
As a young reporter, Mr. Kahn had an entire clubhouse of athletes, sitting in front of their lockers, day after day, telling their stories. In this book, subtitled ‘A Memory of Love,’ Mr. Kahn had to rely too often on second-hand stuff – the cottage industry of books about Miss Monroe as well as ‘people in DiMaggio’s close circle’ and ‘persistent reports’ and ‘stories’ and ‘legends.’
Roger Kahn did meet her once, at an impressionable age, during a publicity party for one of her movies. When he mumbled something about having covered the Yankees for a newspaper, she looked right through him, he recounts. That brief encounter inspired Mr. Kahn to describe her frequently as a sexually compelling woman, ‘that phenomenon of innocence and lust, blond hair and parted lips, the squirming nude on the calendar who aspired to play a Dostoevski heroine.’
He traces her path through the seamy casting calls, repeating the gossip that Marilyn did this or that for certain Hollywood figures, and repeating the saucy lines that Marilyn may or may not have said … Mr. Kahn also finds an ‘attractive, dark-haired New York lady who had dated Joe’ to tell this story: ‘Before we went out, mutual friends gave me a little list of things I was never to bring up. Marilyn, of course. Sinatra. The Kennedys. Johnny Carson.’
Toward the end, Mr. Kahn writes: ‘What went so wrong so quickly? He was neat. She was sloppy. He was repressed. She was hyperactive. Each was willful. Each had a temper. Each was a star. Stars in collision.’
At another point, Mr. Kahn defines the problem in rather turgid prose: ‘Exactly what happened to the abandoned child called Norma Jeane in the casual way stations where she had to live carries us onto the turf of novelists.’ The critic and observer in Mr. Kahn may sense that it is time to leave Miss Monroe and Mr. DiMaggio to the novelists and the poets.”
Goodman Basil Espy III, M.D. loved purchasing sports and Hollywood memorabilia, so it’s not surprising that Marilyn’s romance with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio – and especially, their tour of Japan and Korea – would be at the heart of his Monroe archive, as we discover in this third post about the November 14 auction at Julien’s, A Southern Gentleman’s Collection. And first up, this ‘Official American League Ball‘ is signed in blue ballpoint ink ‘Marilyn Monroe’ – but not in the sweet spot! (You can read all posts about this sale here.)
“A set of two travel alarm clocks; the first beige metal with a ribbed plastic retractable cover by Westclox; the second brass with a red face by Tiffany & Co., engraved on the bottom ‘Marilyn Monroe;’ interestingly, MM was shot in a series of black and white photographs by Bob Beerman circa 1953 where the Westclox piece can be seen on her bedside table.”
SOLD for $7,500
Following a two-year courtship, Marilyn and Joe were married in January 1954. Weeks later, they went on a ‘honeymoon‘ of sorts, as Joe promoted baseball in Japan. These four photos show the couple en route, and after their arrival in Tokyo. And sold separately, “a traditional Japanese fan likely made of bamboo and painted black with a natural wood handle … according to a catalogue description from Christie’s where it was originally sold, ‘…Joe immediately purchased this small memento for his one true love’ apparently on ‘February 2, 1954.'”
Photos SOLD for $896; fan SOLD for $2,560
“A standard United States Department of Defense identification card issued to Marilyn, featuring a small black and white photograph of her in the upper left corner, text reads in part ‘DiMaggio, Norma Jeane,’ photograph is dated ‘4 Feb 54,’ card is dated ‘8 Feb. 1954,’ signed by Monroe in blue ballpoint ink on the lower margin ‘Norma Jeane DiMaggio,’ further black fountain pen ink annotations of the issuing officer appear below, verso displays Monroe’s finger prints next to her typed statistics reading ‘Height 5′ 5 1/2″ / Weight 118 / Color of Hair Blonde / Color of Eyes Blue / Religion None / Blood Type UNK / Date of Birth 1 June 26,’ laminated. Monroe visited Japan and then Korea while on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in February of 1954, and she was given this ‘Noncombatant’s Certificate of Identity’ so she could perform for the American troops while there.”
UNSOLD – reserve not met
A group of three snapshots, all taken in February 1954 when Marilyn was performing for the US troops in Korea; the first shows MM from the back as she walks by; the other two show a cake the soldiers presented to her (though she’s not in the shots). And sold separately, a strip of paper with a soldier’s name and other information on it, signed in blue ballpoint ink ‘Marilyn Monroe.'”
Photos SOLD for $320; autograph SOLD for $2,240
“A single sheet of paper, typed with notes about Marilyn’s Korean tour that appears to be for photo captions or perhaps an interview, heavily annotated in pencil in Monroe’s hand where she revises or edits the typed text, ending with ‘I knew it was raining – but I somehow didn’t / feel it – all I could think was I hoped / they weren’t getting too wet / Korea – / an experience I’ll never forget.'”
SOLD for $3,200
“A standard issue military jacket made of olive green wool, long sleeves, two front flap pockets, six button front closure, stamped on inside lining in part ‘Medium,’ adorned with countless Army-related patches, insignia, and lapel pins, further patch sewn above left pocket with white stitching reads ‘Monroe;’ presented to the star by a VIP soldier when she famously visited the troops in February 1954 while on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio; the jacket is displayed within a shadow box along with two black and white images [sold separately, here]: one shows MM receiving the folded-up jacket from a soldier named McGarr; the other shows MM with McGarr and Jean O’Doul [wife of baseball great, Lefty O’Doul] wearing the jacket.
Jacket SOLD for $44,800; photos SOLD for $768
“A single page of stationery printed with an ‘M,’ penned in blue ballpoint ink, no date, to ‘Jimmy,’ reading in part ‘I was so happy you met us / at the airport and I got to see you / again – your [sic] one of my favorite / people you know,’ ending with ‘Have a Happy Birthday and a / wonderful time / Marilyn’ — Jimmy being James ‘Lefty’ O’Doul, professional baseball player and later a manager and mentor to Joe DiMaggio; included with its original envelope addressed to ‘Mr. Jimmy Gold O’doul [sic] / Personal.’ And sold separately, four photos taken in Korea; three depict Marilyn with others as she wears her fitted checkered dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953); one depicts Jean O’Doul [wife of baseball great Lefty O’Doul] and a soldier; versos of all display various handwritten annotations in pencil and fountain pen ink including the date of ’27/2/54.'”
Letter SOLD for $6,400; photos SOLD for $1,250
Original photo, though now creased and wrinkled, depicting Marilyn in a living room with four other females circa 1954, a black ballpoint ink annotation handwritten on the verso reads ‘This is the interior / of the house in / Beverly Hills. It was / rented by Joe;’ also included are three other snapshots from the same day but printed decades later.”
SOLD for $768
“A small clutch-style purse, made of beige raw silk, gold-tone metal frame with rhinestone closure, zipper on bottom opens to reveal another compartment, inside lined in tan-colored silk, label reads ‘Saks Fifth Avenue,’ additional studio label reads ‘1-6-3-1667 M. Monroe A-729; used by Marilyn as ‘Vicky Parker’ in an extended sequence with Donald O’Connor as ‘Tim Donahue’ in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954.)”
SOLD for $15,625
“A standard playbill for The Teahouse of the August Moonsigned in blue fountain pen ink on the top margin of the cover by Marilyn and in turquoise fountain pen ink on the side margin of the cover by Joe DiMaggio.” [The play starred David Wayne, who had appeared with Marilyn in four films, including How to Marry a Millionaire. She would see the play again after moving to New York, when her Actors’ Studio buddy Eli Wallach joined the cast.]
SOLD for $5,670
“A group of four telegrams, variously dated in December 1954, to the star and her lawyer [Frank Delaney] from an executive at 20th Century Fox, outlining how Marilyn needs to fulfill her obligation to The Seven Year Itch even though she’s sick; funny documents showing how Marilyn was being Marilyn and the studio had to acquiesce because she was…Marilyn. And sold separately, a contact sheet depicting 12 images of Marilyn wearing a white fur stole as she stands next to Itch director Billy Wilder in 1954, mounted to cardboard, signed in black felt-tip ink in the lower right corner ‘for Billy Wilder from Dick Avedon / 67.'”
Telegrams SOLD for $1,024; contact sheet SOLD for $3,200
“A small piece of paper with the top and bottom portions torn off, one side has penciled questions written in another hand, likely that of Ben Hecht or Sidney Skolsky [as both men who helped Marilyn to write her 1954 memoir, My Story, which wasn’t published until 1974], reading in full ‘Think about / 1) anecdote about pics / working on / 2) about Johnny Hyde – / how helped you – gave courage,’ rest of page and other side have Monroe’s blue fountain pen ink responses, with one compelling part reading ‘for those who want to / judge – I’ve traded my (paper purposely torn off here but evidently ‘body’) / more than once / for shelter and small quantities / of understanding and / warmth. I never traded for money / or a job directly or anything (one) could see / with the naked eye / except from one man / who was also deeply lonely…’ and it ends there on that cliffhanger!”
Marilyn is featured twice in the latest issue of UK nostalgia magazine Yours Retro (with Elizabeth Taylor gracing the cover.) Firstly, a portrait of the young Norma Jeane (signed ‘to my dear sister,’ Berniece Miracle), in a feature about autograph hunters; this article also mentions the sale of a baseball signed by Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio for almost $60,000 in 2011 (see here.) Secondly, Marilyn’s so-called ‘snake costume’, designed by Travilla for Bus Stop and seen again on Leslie Caron in The Man Who Understood Women (1959), in the regular Film Buff column.
All About Eve features in a spread about ‘Oscar’s First Ladies.’ And the rise to fame of Diana Dors, labelled ‘Britain’s answer to MM’, is also profiled in this issue – but the comparison is unfair to both women, whose talents were on a par yet very different.
As many fans will know, Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio remained close long after their brief, stormy marriage came to an abrupt end. However, as David Mikkelson points out in an article for myth-busting website Snopes, even museums get their facts wrong sometimes.
“Several years ago I finally undertook a long-awaited pilgrimage to that mecca of sportsdom, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum founded in Cooperstown, N.Y., by Stephen Carlton Clark. Like so many fans before me, I spent a couple of days scrutinizing every exhibit, photograph, document, and other pieces of memorabilia on display at the museum, and then … wondered what the heck else there was to do in Cooperstown. And again like so many fans before me, I ended up at the second-best-known attraction in town, the nearby Farmers’ Museum.
The proprietor’s spiel was to recount a brief history of Stephen Carlton Clark’s role in the establishment of the Hall of Fame and the Farmers’ Museum, and to note that after founding the former, Clark lived in New York City and didn’t return to Cooperstown for the yearly induction ceremonies — save for one exception. That exception was the year Joe Dimaggio was inducted to the Hall, an occasion for which, the proprietor declared, Clark returned to Cooperstown ‘in order to meet Dimaggio’s wife, Marilyn Monroe.’
I immediately recognized a chronological problem with that account: Joe Dimaggio was inducted into the Hall of Fame on 22 July 1955, but he and Marilyn Monroe had separated, with the former filing for divorce, in October 1954. Although the pair remained on relatively friendly terms afterwards, Monroe wasn’t present at the July 1955 induction that welcomed the Yankee Clipper into baseball’s hallowed halls.
On that day Joltin’ Joe was accompanied not by a glamorous starlet, but by a Yankees official … Photographs and newsreel footage of the event also reveal no evidence of the Blonde Bombshell’s presence in Cooperstown that day … For the record, no contemporaneous accounts of the ceremonies mentioned the presence of Clark in Cooperstown that day, either.”
A baseball painted with Marilyn’s image, and signed by Joe DiMaggio, has sold at auction for nearly $500,000 – wildly exceeding the original estimate of $6,000, reports the Miami Herald. ‘Marilyn on the Ball’ was sold via Heritage Auctions by collector Charles McCabe, to whom it was inscribed.
Sports artist LeRoy Neiman created a series of one-off baseballs painted with athletic legends. “A special piece is a 1992 ball of Marilyn Monroe that is signed ‘To Charlie, Best Wishes, Joe DiMaggio,'” the Wichita Eagle noted. “‘What makes it rare is that DiMaggio, who was briefly married to the actress, famously refused to sign anything related to her,’ the auction house said.”
A small print of Neiman’s portrait, also inscribed to McCabe, was also included in the sale.
The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, a new book by Tom Clavin, explores the family dynamic of Joe, Dom, and Vince DiMaggio, all legends in the world of baseball. It’s available to order now in hardback, and published on May 14 via Kindle.
“Paul Simon famously asked: ‘Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?’ Clavin — author of bios on Roger Maris and Gil Hodges — also wonders about Joe’s older brother, Vince, and younger brother, Dominic. Vince, a two-time all-star, paved the way by going against their fisherman father’s wishes by ‘wasting time’ playing ball. He had difficulty making ends meet after baseball. Superstar Joe, who had difficulty adjusting to his ill-fated marriage to Marilyn Monroe, was famously private. Dom, a seven-time all-star center fielder for the Red Sox, became a successful businessman and family man, and was the best adjusted of the brothers — whom Sox teammate and friend Ted Williams always said belonged in the Hall of Fame.”
Actor Dale Robertson died on February 27th in San Diego, aged 89. He was suffering from lung cancer.
Best known as a television actor, Robertson starred in Tales of Wells Fargo, The Iron Horse, and as a host on Death Valley Days. In later years, he appeared in Dallas and Dynasty.
In his 2012 book, They Knew Marilyn Monroe, author Les Harding wrote that Dale had been preparing for a photo shoot with a young Marilyn when her agent, Johnny Hyde, nixed the idea. Hyde was in love with Marilyn, and did not want people to think she and the handsome actor were involved.
Dale also appeared in the episodic film, O. Henry’s Full House (1952), but in a different segment to Marilyn’s. However, they did become friends, and were photographed together on September 15th at a charity event, the Hollywood Entertainers’ Baseball Game.
Biographer Michelle Morgan interviewed Robertson for her 2007 book, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. ‘We would go to ball games together and she was very pleasant company,’ he recalled, ‘but we were never boyfriend and girlfriend because we just weren’t attracted to each other.’
Fifty years later, Robertson remembered sensing a sadness in Marilyn. ‘She had a rough time for a while,’ he said, ‘and her biggest enemy was herself.’
After hearing of Robertson’s death, Morgan wrote in her blog, ‘I won’t pretend that I was close to Dale Robertson, in fact I never spoke to him again after I had interviewed him back in 2006, but he was such a lovely person that I truly felt very blessed to have been in touch with him, no matter how short our association had been.’
Dean Chance, ‘perhaps the greatest high school pitcher ever’, was at the Dodger Stadium on Marilyn’s last birthday, when she attended a benefit match for Muscular Dystrophy, reports the Washington Examiner.
‘”In 1962, we’re playing a game in Dodger Stadium on June 1. They put up on the big scoreboard, ‘Today a special happy birthday!'” he said. “I was thinking it was mine. But who was it? Marilyn Monroe. The only time I ever met her.”‘
Albie Pearson – former centre-fielder with the Los Angeles Angels – told the San Bernardino Sunabout a strange encounter with Marilyn, possibly at Yankee Stadium where she made her final public appearance on her 36th birthday, June 1st 1962:
‘”In the summer of 1962 there was some sort of charity function at the stadium and I’m selected to escort a celebrity to home plate for a pre-game presentation,” Pearson said. “So I go out to the dugout and they tell me the person I’m going to walk to home plate is Marilyn Monroe.
“Now I am nervous. So I ask, `Where is she?’ And it turned out she was standing over in the far corner of the dugout, completely in the shadows. And she’s pale and shaking and I’m thinking this can’t be Marilyn Monroe, the famous movie star.
“Anyway, we’re called out to home plate and I thought I would have to drag her out of that corner. But once she hit that top step of the dugout she became Marilyn Monroe the movie star, smiling and waving. I was simply amazed at the transformation.
“Well, we finish the presentation and I walk her back. Now, this whole time I never said a word to her and she never spoke to me. Once we’re back in the dugout, she turns back into this shy, withdrawn person.
“And the strangest thing, all this time I have these Bible verses running through my mind. Marilyn Monroe and Bible verses. Talk about God working in mysterious ways.
“As she’s leaving, she suddenly turns to me. And she says, `What is it you are trying to tell me?’ And I was just absolutely speechless. She looked so lost and lonely and I felt I needed to say something, but what do you say to Marilyn Monroe?
“It was a haunting experience, but I went on and played that game. We finished the homestand and went on the road and, I think this was in New York, I go down to the lobby to get a morning paper and there’s the headline `Marilyn Monroe Commits Suicide.’
“And I knew right then that God had plans for my life, bigger plans than just being a ballplayer. I didn’t save Marilyn but I could save others. I had to save others. So I prayed and turned my life over to God.”‘
Meredith W. ‘Spud’ Murray, a pitcher for the New York Yankees from 1960-68, died at home in East Waterford, PA, earlier this month. Writing for theDelaware County Times, Ed Gelbhart recalled a conversation with Murray in which he spoke of meeting Marilyn (probably while Joe DiMaggio was training the Yankees in St Petersburg, Florida, in 1961.)
‘Mr. Murray had a thousand stories, like the time all the players were eating at the same hotel during spring training. The great Joe DiMaggio, by now a batting instructor, entered the dining room a little late. He surveyed the scene, noticed an empty seat at Mr. Murray’s table, and decided to eat with him that night.
Later that spring, Mr. DiMaggio introduced “Spud” to Marilyn Monroe.
“Wow, ‘Spud,’ what did you think of Marilyn?” I once asked him.
“Spud,” a master of understatement, simply replied, “She seemed like a nice girl.” ‘