On September 15th of 1954, Marilyn Monroe filmed her famous “skirt scene,” where her dress flies up as she stands over a subway grate.
It was a publicity stunt conceived by producers during the filming of The Seven Year Itch. She was married to Joe DiMaggio at the time. Unfortunately, she neglected to tell Joe about the plan. She might have been afraid that her husband would forbid her to do it. Joe was already having problems with Marilyn seeming to prefer her career over being his wife. She had even entertained soldiers during the couple's honeymoon in Japan only nine months earlier.
Joe was standing next to Marilyn when the incident occurred. Despite his complete humiliation, Joe's reaction was to smile. Joe knew about being a celebrity, as he was (and still is) among the most famous baseball players of all time. Joe knew that he had to smile when the cameras were rolling, no matter what. For the next two hours he stood there, smiling.
But Joe, the son of Italian immigrants, was an old fashioned man who did not appreciate his wife's tendency toward exhibitionism. The panties she was wearing were very revealing for the time, although by today's standards, they look like someone's grandma's panties. Also, Joe was a decent man. Marilyn said he was the only man she had ever known who did not try to “make a pass” at her on their first date.
As soon as Joe got Marilyn home, he told her he wanted a divorce, and gave her a choice. She could file for divorce herself to preserve her image, but if she didn't, then Joe would file for divorce the following day. The next morning, a devastated Marilyn filed for divorce from Joe DiMaggio. The couple didn't speak to each other again for about two years.
After her divorce, Marilyn searched for meatier roles. She founded her own production company and began studying acting with Lee Strassberg. She appeared in Bus Stop in 1955 and Some like It Hot in 1959. During that time, she married a playwright named Arthur Miller. Miller wrote a film, called The Misfits, just for her, but she divorced him just before the film premiered.
Eventually, Marilyn and Joe became friends again, and started dating. At some point, they even talked about getting remarried.
In 1962, Marilyn was fired from her final film, ominously entitled Something's Gotta Give, presumably because of her drug and/or alcohol problems. Three days later, on August 5th of 1962, Marilyn Monroe died alone in her home in Los Angeles from an overdose of pills and alcohol. Her death was ruled an accident.
Marilyn was taken to a morgue, but nobody arrived to claim her body. She had grown up as an orphan and had no family. When Joe DiMaggio found out, he rushed over and claimed Marilyn's body. Then he made (and paid for) her funeral arrangements. He bought her a beautiful green dress to wear in her casket. He arranged to have a dozen long stemmed red roses sent to Marilyn's grave twice a week for the rest of his life. He attended her funeral.
Then, with cameras fully rolling, Joe cried.
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