Once she stepped into the world of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe captivated audiences instantly with her charming personality and alluring looks. The blonde beauty died at the age of 36 in 1962 after a series of heartbreaking romances and three highly publicized divorces from her ex-husbands, James Dougherty, Joe DiMaggio, and Arthur Miller.
Monroe and Dougherty became friends early on during her difficult childhood. The future entertainer was made a ward of the state when her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, was admitted to Metropolitan State Hospital after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The California native was forced to move around to different foster homes throughout her teen years.
At the time, she was known by her given name, Norma Jeane Mortenson, and had been living with family friend Grace Goddard when she began dating Dougherty, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Goddard family intended to move across the country, influencing the young couple to get married.
“They wanted to move back to [West] Virginia, and they couldn’t take Norma Jeane,” Dougherty told United Press International in 1990. “She would have gone back to an orphanage or another foster home, so her foster mother suggested I marry her.”
Monroe was just 16 years old when walked down the aisle with her first husband in 1942. Doughtery was 20 years old at the time of their union and admitted that he was initially hesitant about their age gap.
“I noticed she was a pretty little thing, and she thought I looked angelic in white shirts, but she was only a child so far as I was concerned, and five years was a great difference in our ages,” he said, per Donald Spoto’s 1993 biography Marilyn Monroe.
Their marriage ended in 1946, just as Monroe was paving a career for herself as a model. She would later evolve into a Hollywood starlet that the entire world came to know and love. The Niagara actress was also linked to Frank Sinatra in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, but the pair never wed. The singer instead popped the question to dancer Juliet Prowse, however, they never made it down the aisle.
“I do think it had to do with Marilyn in some way, maybe trying to break from her a little,” Sammy Davis Jr. previously said about Sinatra’s failed engagement.
Doughtery was the captain of the Van Nuys High School football team and class president. Once Monroe married him, she dropped out of school to become a housewife. Her first husband soon joined the Merchant Marines and was stationed in California.
Doughtery was later deployed to Asia in 1944, just as Monroe was noticed by a photographer while working a factory job. She realized that modeling and acting in Hollywood was her true calling. Upon signing a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1946 and nabbing her first acting roles, Monroe and Dougherty ended their marriage.
“My marriage didn’t make me sad, but it didn’t make me happy, either. My husband and I hardly spoke to each other,” Monroe said, per Spoto’s biography. “This wasn’t because we were angry. We had nothing to say. I was dying of boredom.”
Dougherty later went on to become a police officer in California. He died at the age of 84 due to complications of leukemia in 2005.
The Gentleman Prefer Blondes actress married baseball player Joe DiMaggio in 1954 after two years of dating. The New York Yankees star had been married once before to actress Dorothy Arnold, with whom he welcomed one child, son Joseph Paul DiMaggio Jr.
“I was surprised to be so crazy about Joe,” the Clash By Night star said, per Spoto’s biography. “I expected a flashy New York sports type, and instead, I met this reserved guy who didn’t make a pass at me right away. He treated me like something special.”
Nine months after they wed, Monroe filed for divorce, citing “mental cruelty,” according to Life. She revealed that much of the discourse in their relationship stemmed from her famous subway grate scene in The Seven Year Itch. The attention-grabbing dress and wind blowing sequence “was the last straw,” for their marriage which was already on the rocks, she said, per People.
The pair were officially divorced in 1955. DiMaggio never married again. He re-entered Monroe’s life as a close friend after she divorced her third husband in 1961. The professional athlete was the one who handled all the icon’s funeral arrangements and had roses delivered to her grave three times a week for more than 20 years, according to the New York Times.
DiMaggio died on March 8, 1999, in Hollywood, Florida, after undergoing surgery for lung cancer.
Monroe married her third husband in 1956. Prior to his marriage to the blonde bombshell, Miller was married once before to Mary Slattery. He welcomed two children during his first marriage, daughter Jane and son Robert.
The playwright was best known for his work on Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. He also wrote the 1961 western The Misfits, in which his ex-wife starred one year before her death. Miller did not attend his ex-spouse’s funeral and reflected on the decision in an essay that was published after his death.
Following the Pulitzer Prize recipient’s divorce from Monroe, he married photographer Inge Morath in 1962. Their daughter, Rebecca Miller, was born that year. Their son, Daniel, arrived in 1966. Rebecca went on to marry actor Daniel Day-Lewis in 1996.
The screenwriter died at the age of 89 in 2005 from heart failure.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Closer Weekly.