Joe Directs Marilyn’s Funeral
By Dennis Gaffney
After Monroe’s divorce to playwright Arthur Miller in 1961, Monroe seemed to become lost and depressed. She fell in with singer Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. Joe had heard the rumors that Monroe also had affairs with both Robert and John F. Kennedy.
Yet, near the end of Monroe’s life, Joe and Marilyn were spending time together again. DiMaggio told his friends that the two were going to get remarried. Former DiMaggio teammate Jerry Coleman remembers seeing the two together in the last few years of Marilyn’s life. "I was doing shows in New York and I was walking down Park Avenue to get to my car. And I saw this couple coming down and Joe’s got his head up in the air and his arm around Marilyn. And they’re just day-dreaming along and never even saw me. And so, I didn’t bother to stop and say ‘hello.’ I thought he was happy as he was, leave him alone."
Any hopes were crushed on August 5, 1962, when DiMaggio received the news that Marilyn Monroe was dead. She died alone. Authorities at Monroe’s house didn’t know what to do or who to call, as Monroe had no family. So they called DiMaggio. DiMaggio stepped in and orchestrated his ex-wife’s funeral.
DiMaggio barred the public and almost all the Hollywood glitterati — producers, directors and actors — from the funeral. The studio executives tried to convince DiMaggio that they and their people should be at the funeral. DiMaggio gave his reply. "Tell them," said DiMaggio, "if it wasn't for them, she'd still be here."
According to the account of the funeral printed in the "New York Times," DiMaggio bent down to Monroe, saying "I love you. I love you."
For two decades, DiMaggio had flowers delivered to Marilyn’s grave twice a week. "I firmly believe," said Brad Dexter, "that all the years that [DiMaggio] made those visitations to her grave site and left flowers. . . he was still in love with her, but also [did it] out of a great sense of guilt. Because I think he helped contribute to her demise. I’m firmly convinced that if he had behaved differently, they would have had a good marriage. He destroyed it—and he felt that guilt."