Gus Zernial 1923-2011

Gus Zernial, the left-fielder and right-hand batter who played in baseball’s Major League during the 1950s, has died aged 87. Along with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, Zernial hit the most home runs during the decade.

Zernial is also known to MM fans because of the publicity photo he posed for with a young Marilyn in March 1951, while he was with the Chicago White Sox at spring training camp in Pasadena. (He is standing next to her in the picture above.)

‘I was really attracted to her beauty, but more than that,’ Zernial told author Michelle Morgan, as quoted in her 2007 book, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. ‘She was attractive both inside and out – a beautiful person to talk to, and I also believe she had a lot more to offer than the way she was shown by Hollywood.’

The stunt was organised by press agent David March. After the pictures were published, none other than Joe DiMaggio asked, ‘Who’s the blonde?’

The story goes that in early 1952, when DiMaggio was visiting Los Angeles, March arranged a date with Marilyn. And the rest, as they say, is history…

Honeymooners in Paso Robles

“As the story goes, after a quick wedding in San Francisco, the newlyweds made a dash down the coast to Paso Robles, where they spent their first night as husband and wife at the Clifton Motel, now the Clifton Apartments, still located at 125 Spring St. in downtown Paso Robles.

The pair also enjoyed a quiet dinner at the nearby Hot Springs Hotel, then situated at the corner of 13th and Spring streets. The building burned down in the 1960’s and a small realty building now occupies the location.

The Paso Robles Press announced the juicy news with gusto. The Jan. 15, 1954 edition front page headline stated in bold typeface, “Marilyn and Joe Honeymoon Here.” After their excursion through Paso, the couple hopped into a dark blue Cadillac and motored to a mountain lodge near Palm Springs, where they spent two secluded weeks together.”

Paso Robles Press

More information available from Paso Robles Historical Society

Remembering Ryne Duren, 1929-2011

Ryne Duren, former pitcher for the New York Yankees, died on January 6 aged 81. In memory of this great American sportsman, Cecilia Tan has shared a 2003 interview with Mr Duren on her ‘Why I Like Baseball’ blog, where he fondly recalled meeting Marilyn Monroe at team practice with his friend, Joe DiMaggio.

“Highlight of my career was meeting Marilyn Monroe.

CT: Not on the golf course…?

No, she came to spring training with Joe. There she is, sitting outside the clubhouse on the bench, I walk up the first day and it’s Marilyn Monroe. And I don’t know why but I guess it’s just me, I sat down and made small talk with Marilyn Monroe. Joe and I always had a good relationship. We always talked, especially in later life when after she had died and everybody knew I had gotten on top of the problem and was running a hospital and I had been quoted in the papers a lot, a lot of people had done stories on me, Joe wanted to spend some time talking with me and we did about the mixtures of different drugs and alcohol and so forth. I don’t care what anybody else says, she died from Valium mixed with alcohol. I truly believe that.

CT: But people always want to make a conspiracy theory out of it when it’s an American icon who dies.

Oh yeah.

CT: So tell me some more about Joe DiMaggio. A lot of the guys don’t really say much about him.

Well, everybody sees him differently. I went down to the batting cage one day, and he had been down there helping guys hit. We were in St. Petersburg at the old Miller Huggins Field, way down in the corner we had a batting cage with a pitching machine. So I went down there and Joe was down there just kind of hanging around, and the last honest batter came out and got through, so now I say, hey Joe, can you help me some? And he kind of laughed and said why? You can’t hit. You’ve got to have good eyesight and coordination. So I said aw, c’mon Joe, at least help me with my stance or something. And he says Ryne, it’s a waste of time! Please, why would you want me to do that. So I said, you know, Joe, if I could at least look good striking out, that’d be a help, right? And it just cracked him up. But he did finally tell me how to stand and swing and so forth. So now, I’m down there hitting balls and he went back to the bench. So evidently he was proud of the fact that he had me with a pretty good looking swing, so they’re sitting up in the dugout and he’s playing a game with someone down there. He’d make a little bet with you and so on. So he says, who is that guy hitting down there? He looks pretty good. They can’t see my number from there. Joe then says, well, that looks like Ryne Duren to me. And they laughed at him. No, I think it really is. So then they made a little bet, and sure enough I finally turned around to pick up the balls and it’s me. So he did make me look good anyway, and he always got a kick out of that.”

Zolotow’s Marilyn: Life With the Greenes

With business partner Milton Greene, 1955

These latest extracts from Zolotow’s 1960 biography, first published in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror, recounts Marilyn’s split from husband Joe DiMaggio, and her decision to leave Hollywood; her business partnership with photographer Milton Greene and her personal relationship with his wife, Amy (Marilyn stayed at their Connecticut home in the winter of 1954-55, before moving to New York.)

Marilyn’s Thanksgiving Recipe

Among other writings, Fragments includes several recipes, and the New York Times suggests Marilyn’s stuffing may be perfect for Thanksgiving:

The image of a bombshell cooking her way to nirvana may seem old-hat now, thanks to Nigella, Giada, Padma and the like. But back in the 1950s, a Hollywood starlet was not expected to squander her talents (or risk her manicure) chopping onions.

A new book, however, includes a recipe in Marilyn Monroe’s handwriting that suggests that she not only cooked, but cooked confidently and with flair.”

Although the editors of Fragments date this recipe to the late 1950s, these culinary experts suggest that Marilyn may have learned to cook this Italian-style stuffing during her marriage to Joe DiMaggio. (Marilyn and Joe spent time with his sister, Marie, in San Francisco, and she may have shared secrets of Italian cuisine with her famous sister-in-law.)

DiMaggio Lawyer Criticises Author

Morris Engelberg, former attorney to Joe DiMaggio and executor of his estate, has criticised Yale University Press for using a photo of DiMaggio with Marilyn Monroe on the cover of a forthcoming biography, Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil.

“It’s in poor taste with anybody who knows anything about Joe DiMaggio,” Engelberg said in a phone interview from his home in Florida last Monday. “It’s a cheap shot to sell books. I have no objection to what they use inside the book, but a cover of Joe and Marilyn is a cheap shot,” Engelberg said. “There’s no class. It’s a lack of respect and just shows that the author really has no knowledge of the real Joe DiMaggio.”

The photograph was taken while Monroe was filming River of No Return in Canada, a few months before her wedding to DiMaggio. It is part of a series by photographer John Vachon, published in another new book, August 1953: The Lost ‘Look’ Photos.

Yale University Press Director John Donatich said in an e-mail to the Yale Daily News that the YUP “intend[s] to use the photograph as planned in accordance with our First Amendment rights.”

Daniel J. Kevles, a history professor who teaches a course on intellectual property rights at the Law School and is a member of the content-focused YUP Publications Committee, which approves books for publication, said that the YUP’s use of the photograph was “a matter of academic freedom.”

However, Kevles said that he could see why Engelberg objects to the photo.

“I can understand [his] point because inside the book, the photo is simply Joe and Marilyn as just another feature or element in Joe’s life,” Kevles said. “One among many. To put it on the cover is to imply that Joe’s life was defined by his marriage to Marilyn.”

Engelberg, who met DiMaggio in 1983, became the baseball star’s executor after he died in 1999. In 2003, he published a memoir of his friend, DiMaggio: Setting the Record Straight.

However, Engelberg is himself a contentious figure, particularly since he allowed DiMaggio’s diaries to be auctioned in 2007, according to New York Daily News.

Jerome Charyn has published over fifty books, including a brief, but erudite life of Marilyn Monroe, The Last Goddess. Here is a synopsis of Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, to be published in February 2011.

As the New York Yankees’ star centerfielder from 1936 to 1951, Joe DiMaggio is enshrined in America’s memory as the epitome in sports of grace, dignity, and that ineffable quality called “class.” But his career after retirement, starting with his nine-month marriage to Marilyn Monroe, was far less auspicious. Writers like Gay Talese and Richard Ben Cramer have painted the private DiMaggio as cruel or self-centered. Now, Jerome Charyn restores the image of this American icon, looking at DiMaggio’s life in a more sympathetic light.

DiMaggio was a man of extremes, superbly talented on the field but privately insecure, passive, and dysfunctional. He never understood that for Monroe, on her own complex and tragic journey, marriage was a career move; he remained passionately committed to her throughout his life. He allowed himself to be turned into a sports memorabilia money machine. In the end, unable to define any role for himself other than “Greatest Living Ballplayer,” he became trapped in “a horrible kind of minutia.” But where others have seen little that was human behind that minutia, Charyn in Joe DiMaggio presents the tragedy of one of American sports’ greatest figures.


Marilyn at Carnegie Hall

Carl Perutz, 1958

Bill Cunningham, best known as the ‘on-the-street’ photojournalist at the New York Times, has lived at Carnegie Hall for sixty years. This week, Cunningham and Carnegie’s four other remaining tenants are moving out as the legendary concert venue is set to become a music school.

In his latest slideshow, Cunningham talks about his bohemian home and the many famous names who have visited him there. During the 1950s, when Cunningham designed hats, Marilyn Monroe would pass through on her way home from the Actor’s Studio.

The image of Marilyn trying on hats in Cunningham’s studio apartment reminded me of some beautiful photographs of her taken by Carl Perutz, used by illustrator Jon Whitcomb for artwork in American Weekly. (Whitcomb’s painting was kept by her ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio, until his death.)

Painting by Jon Whitcomb

Although Cunningham was then a hatmaker – and not yet a photographer – at this time, I wonder if he might know the story behind these pictures?