Marilyn Monroe’s marriage to Joe DiMaggio, the Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, is just about a footnote in her biography. But the connection has been dropped at large consideration once more, and for deeply unsettling causes involving him probably beating her, in Netflix’s new Monroe biopic Blonde.
Blonde, according to the unconventional by way of Joyce Carol Oates, is closely fictionalized but assembled from a spattering of well-researched truths. Directed by way of Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly), the uncommon NC-17-rated function purposes as a “dream film” as a lot about Monroe’s symbol as her precise existence, in keeping with Dominik. The plot is structured round a sequence of cascading traumas suffered by way of Monroe that circle again on every different in a dizzying, every now and then robust, every now and then mind-numbing cycle. Monroe (actual title: Norma Jeane Mortenson) struggles and fails to get out from below the nature the remainder of the sector has set for her. She desires company—she simply can’t appear to get it.
With a Hollywood output as wealthy and productive as Monroe’s, and a non-public existence splashed throughout tabloids, it may be simple to overlook all about DiMaggio. But their romance, cut up, and later-in-life friendship has lengthy captivated the general public. In Blonde, it’s just about all noticed as unsightly: We watch Bobby Cannavale’s DiMaggio abuse Ana de Armas’s Monroe each verbally and bodily, belittling her when she’s already reached a psychological lowpoint.
What in Blonde’s depiction of the connection is correct to fact? What veers into fiction? Here’s a handy guide a rough explainer.
How did Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio get entangled?
Monroe’s dating to Joe DiMaggio was once an extraordinary one from the beginning. DiMaggio was once captivated by way of the then-rising blonde bombshell in 1952 as a fan. After retiring from skilled baseball the former 12 months (he spent his whole 13-year profession with the New York Yankees), he requested an acquaintance to introduce him to Monroe. Monroe was once reportedly hesitant to fulfill DiMaggio, assuming he will be the boastful athlete sort, in keeping with Women’s Wear Daily in its historical past of the connection.
Yet Monroe and DiMaggio maintained a two-year, long-distance entanglement, with Monroe staying in California whilst the previous Yankee remained at the East Coast.
Then in January 1954, they’d an overly public but unconventional marriage ceremony. They eloped in San Francisco City Hall. Monroe eschewed a regular robe in choose of a smart-looking brown go well with with a fluffy white collar, whilst DiMaggio wore a easy go well with. They have been, unsurprisingly, mobbed by way of a crowd of enthusiasts and paparazzi.
The fit was once no longer intended to be. Monroe filed for divorce in October 1954, after handiest 9 months of marriage. Having returned to Los Angeles from filming The Seven Year Itch with its well-known skirt-blowing scene in New York City, she cited “mental cruelty” as a explanation why for divorce from DiMaggio, in keeping with WWD. Rumors about DiMaggio’s jealousy and controlling nature when it got here to Monroe’s sexpot standing have lingered ever since.
How does Blonde depict Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s marriage?
In Blonde, Monroe’s assembly with DiMaggio is kind of a one-sided dialog. DiMaggio falls for Monroe laborious, and gestures towards their shared working out of public existence whilst she seems to be guarded and prone.
“Hey, I know what it’s like… to be lonely,” Cannavale’s DiMaggio tells a crying Monroe (de Armas) in a cafe sales space. “To want a better life. A good, simple life. A decent life.”
Monroe nods, and cries. “I just wanna begin again from zero,” she says. Yet she will be able to’t. And we all know this dating, like her others, is doomed.
Nude pictures of Monroe are used as blackmail by way of Charlie Chaplin Jr. and Edward G. Robinson Jr., sons of extra well-known actors who interact in a “throuple” romance with Monroe early in the movie. The two juniors means DiMaggio with the pictures, extorting him for cash to stay the fabric personal.
DiMaggio returns to his area with Monroe and slaps her around the face. “Those photos. That’s what you are: meat,” he says.
By this level, Monroe has already internalized the disparaging view of herself.
“Oh, Daddy. It’s my fault,” de Armas responds in a whisper.
The abuse escalates later in Blonde, whilst Monroe is filming director Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch. Cannavale as DiMaggio is visibly mortified by way of the scene she movies in which wind from a subway grate blows up her skirt, revealing leg in the acclaimed romantic comedy and her lingerie in Blonde’s behind-the-scenes sport.
Monroe in Blonde returns to her resort room, the place DiMaggio eliminates his belt. As he begins pelting her, he screams: “Everybody, they’re gonna know what a fucking whore you are!” DiMaggio’s beating of Monroe occurs in large part off the display, however it’s amongst Blonde’s extra unsettling moments.
Did Joe DiMaggio actually abuse Marilyn Monroe like in Blonde?
Blonde is, by way of design, extraordinarily tough to observe. Andrew Dominik, and in flip Joyce Carol Oates in the supply subject matter, need you to witness Monroe in her maximum painful moments. DiMaggio’s abuse is unfortunately only one bankruptcy in her lifelong trauma.
But did DiMaggio in truth abuse Monroe bodily or emotionally? The resolution will get a bit of muddied. Remember that we’re speaking about doable home violence seen in the course of the lens of the Fifties.
What we do know is that, as with the threesome involving Chaplin Jr. and Robinson Jr., there’s no proof the duo blackmailed DiMaggio with bare pictures of Monroe.
There was once positive stress between DiMaggio and Monroe. And it got here to a head right through taking pictures The Seven Year Itch. Witnesses showed the couple’s heated argument in the foyer of a New York resort, E! News reviews. And Monroe’s make-up artist printed in the Monroe biography Goddess that the actress arrived to set tomorrow with bruises on her shoulders.
Further main points past their resort spat and her obvious bruises are natural hypothesis or unconfirmed rumors. But it’s secure to mention that DiMaggio and Monroe approached her stardom with other expectancies, and that DiMaggio held most likely retrograde perspectives when it got here to his very well-known spouse.
Yet what Blonde doesn’t display is the strangest twist of all: DiMaggio and Monroe later rekindled a lifelong friendship following her divorce from playwright Arthur Miller in 1961, WWD notes. He arranged her funeral in 1962 and ceaselessly despatched roses to her crypt at Westwood Memorial Park for years, in keeping with E!. He is unhappy to have liked Monroe till his personal loss of life in 1999.
What actually transpired between Monroe and DiMaggio? Was there such terrible bodily beating as proven in Blonde?
It’s laborious to mention. So a lot of Monroe’s existence is wrapped up in the parable surrounding her. Blonde is only one try to disentangle that fable, what would possibly were, and the picture of the girl that’s nonetheless unimaginable to forget about in our collective minds.
Paul Schrodt is a contract creator and editor who additionally contributes to Esquire, GQ, Money, The Wall Street Journal, and extra.