Sinatra, DiMaggio and Marilyn

Writing for the New York Times, Michael Beschloss looks back at the infamous ‘Wrong Door Raid’, and the shattered friendship of Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio.

“Americans learned about what came to be called the ‘Wrong-Door Raid’ when Confidential magazine revealed it two years later. Furious and embarrassed (even though Sinatra had ostensibly been trying to help him), DiMaggio scarcely spoke to Sinatra afterward.

Maintaining the hope of reconciling with Monroe, he was later incensed by sporadic reports that his ex-wife had taken up with Sinatra. When Marilyn died in 1962, the distraught DiMaggio barred him from her funeral.

DiMaggio’s tabloid estrangement from Sinatra is painful to recall because, in retrospect, these two men of the same generation (they were born and died within roughly a year of each other) probably did more than anyone else of their time to bring Italian-Americans into the mainstream of their country’s popular culture.”

Hal Schaefer 1925-2012

Photo by John Florea (1954)

Hal Schaefer was an accomplished jazz pianist and vocal coach to Marilyn. They became close while she was unhappily married to Joe DiMaggio, and Hal was with her on the night of the infamous ‘Wrong Door Raid’. He died on December 8th, 2012.

You can read my tribute to Hal Schaefer here or at Immortal Marilyn.

Marilyn Monroe: ‘Confidential’

Over at The Believer, Anne Helen Peterson takes a look at Confidential, the notorious ‘scandal sheet’ of the 1950s which paved the way for the likes of The National Enquirer and Perez Hilton.

“The decision to put Marilyn Monroe on the cover of an early issue helped boost sales, but the magazine’s content comprised equal parts stars and general-interest celebrities: politicians, government officials, singers, and socialites. At the same time, the fan magazines, whose singular focus had been Hollywood stars, began to cover teen idols, television personalities, and Jacqueline Kennedy. The lines between fan magazine and scandal rag were blurring, but so, too, were those that had long separated the high-, middle-, and lowbrow press. A blatantly pornographic magazine like Playboy was suddenly posturing as ‘gentleman’s journalism’—and the New Yorker was profiling Marlon Brando, a major Hollywood star.”

The rise of Confidential ran parallel to Marilyn’s own reign as the uncrowned queen of Hollywood, including the disastrous ‘Wrong Door Raid’ of 1954, and a 1957 story by journalist Robert Slatzer, who claimed to have had an affair with Marilyn five years earlier, while she was filming Niagara.

Years after Marilyn’s death, Slatzer claimed to have secretly married the actress in Mexico in 1952, and he remains one of the most controversial figures in Hollywood lore.