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Jodie Foster, the Lion and the Lovers
Marilyn Monroe and her Famous Lovers - Stories Behind The Screen
86    Dibyendu Banerjee    01/11/2022

Accepted universally as the blonde bombshell and one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s, Marilyn Monroe was almost as famous for her high profile relationships as she was for her iconic screen presence, linked to the epitome of style and glamour. Marilyn had sex written all over her face, as stated by Alfred Hitchcock, she was lusted after by men of high profile across the country throughout her career and no movie icon in living memory could evoke greater fascination than she did. Ranked sixth in 1999, in the American Film Institute list of Greatest Female Screen Legends from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe’s enigmatic love life is shrouded in mystery and has become legendary, which included three husbands, a squadron of lovers, along with hidden affairs with the two famous Kennedy brothers of America.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
Marilyn with her first husband, James Dougherty

During her early days, Monroe's living situation changed often, when she was abused and molested several times. In desperation, she dropped out of high school and opted to become a housewife to come out of the situation. Still known as Norma Jeane Baker, she married James Dougherty, a classmate at Van Nuys High School on 15 June 1942, at the age of 16. After their wedding, the young couple spent their honeymoon on a lake in Ventura County and moved into an apartment in Sherman Oaks.

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However, their relationship began to disintegrate when Dougherty joined the Merchant Marines in 1944 and she felt herself abandoned and dying of boredom as a housewife. Finally, the marriage ended in divorce on 13 September 1946, while Dougherty was serving overseas and Monroe began pursuing a career in Hollywood.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
Charlie Chaplin Jr

It is said that Marilyn had an affair with Charlie Chaplin Jr, in 1947 and their relationship allegedly ended when Charlie caught Marilyn in his bed, in a compromising situation with his brother Sydney. Chaplin mentioned their affair in his 1960 autobiography and it was also mentioned by Anthony Summers in his book Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn met Milton Berle in 1948 on the set of Ladies of the Chorus, while he was dating Adele Jergens and in his self-titled autobiography, he openly claimed he had a brief affair with Marilyn, despite his relationship status.

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He also mentioned in his book that, there was nothing cheap about Marilyn, She was a lady, she knew she was worth something and had respect for herself.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
With Milton Berle

Many believed that possibly Marilyn was engaged in a lesbian affair with her beloved drama coach Natasha Lytess, starting in 1948, when she signed a short contract with Columbia Pictures. Soon they became nearly inseparable, both on and off set, over the next seven years, which sparked rumours of a relationship. She was openly hostile to Monroe's male suitors, especially Joe DiMaggio.

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To add fuel to the rumours, Marilyn moved into her home to prepare for her role in Don't Bother to Knock. Eventually, they parted ways in 1956, but the actual details of their relationship remain a mystery. But later, Marilyn confessed that Natasha was a great teacher, but she was jealous of the men she saw and acted as if she was her husband.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
With Natasha Lytess

During that time, Elia Kazan, one of Hollywood's all-time great directors, admitted to having a brief affair with Monroe while he was married to playwright Molly Thacher. In recently unearthed private letters to his wife, Kazan confessed to sleeping with the actress and add that he was not sorry or ashamed of being attracted by her. Apart from Elia Kazan, during that period, Marilyn had relationships with many other famous persons attached to the movie industry, which include film director Nicholas Ray, actors Yul Bryner and Peter Lawford.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
Marilyn with her second husband, Joe DiMaggio

Marilyn was introduced to Joe DiMaggio, the most popular baseball champion of the time, on a blind date in 1952. Soon he fell under the spell of the enigmatic  seductress, left his wife and married her on 14 January 1954 at San Francisco's City Hall. Following the marriage, Monroe's film career took off with her appearance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), while DiMaggio was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. After that, she starred in her most acclaimed film, The Seven Year Itch (1955), when her iconic subway grate photo was captured. However, by that time, accustomed to being the biggest star in the country, DiMaggio was becoming increasingly jealous of the skyrocketing fame of his wife. Despite everything, he could not handle the picture of his wife bellowing white dress, exposing her legs, thighs and even the crotch. Although the two were very much in love, DiMaggio became very much controlling, as he disliked the sexy image his wife so often portrayed.

Finally, only 274 days after the marriage, the couple divorced on 31 October 1955, on the ground of mental cruelty, although Elia Kazan, a friend of DiMaggio, informed his wife in a personal letter that Monroe was thrashed by the  ballplayer several times.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
Marilyns statue with bellowing white dress, in Palm Springs

However, even after his divorce, DiMaggio had a difficult time moving on and in a scandal known as the Wrong Door Raid, he had to face the consequences, when he unknowingly kicked the door of a house that he thought Monroe was inside with another man. Even then, they remained close friends and he was present in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles on 8 August 1962, when he leaned on the coffin of Marilyn and whispered ‘I love you' three times. After her death, DiMaggio sent roses to her grave for 20 years, three times each week.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
With Marlon Brando

After her divorce from DiMaggio and before her relationship with Arthur Miller, Monroe and Brando, perhaps the two most famous actors of their generation, were rumoured to have briefly dated in 1955. They shared the screen in Desiree (1954), directed by Henry Koster and got along wonderfully. While they did have an ongoing sexual relationship and plenty of chemistry, they also had an emotional bond that deepened over the years. They often spoke on the phone for hours at a time and continued to see each other off and on until her tragic death. Brando considered her to be a sensitive and misunderstood person, much more perceptive than was generally assumed.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
Marilyn with her third husband, Arthur Miller

Marilyn met eminent playwright Arthur Miller for the second time in 1956, while she was in Los Angeles, working on the movie Bus Stop and the two had carried out a fairly public affair since her divorce from DiMaggio, even though Arthur was married. Eventually, Arthur divorced his wife Mary Slattery and married Marilyn on 29 June 1956, in a small ceremony at the home of Miller's agent in Westchester, New York. At the same time, Marilyn was converted to Arthur's religion of Judaism, which led Egypt to ban all of her films. That was the beginning of what would go on to be a turbulent and intense union. While the public was shocked by the union of Hollywood's biggest sex symbol and the pensive intellectual, the press was baffled by Marilyn's choice of husband, going from an ace athlete to a playwright. Dubbed the Egghead and the Hourglass, they were even branded as the most unlikely marriage since the Owl and the Pussycat. However, it was a very happy time in Marilyn's life, when she began cooking and other household chores, along with taking care of Miller's children, who all loved her. However, Arthur was said to be stunned by the amount of attention and adoration heaped upon his wife and got a full taste of her life as the world's biggest movie star when they were greeted by 400 journalists in London.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
With Yves Montand whom she seduced

Miller encouraged Marilyn to shoot and supported her in her projects, rewrote the script of Let's Make Love (1960), in which she shared the screen with Yves Montand and had a brief stint of affair with the French actor. However, Marilyn desperately wanted to be a mother, but unfortunately she suffered two miscarriages during her marriage to Miller and also endured several failed operations in an attempt to become a mother. Even then, she underwent an operation in 1959, but became heartbroken, when she was informed that it would not help her to become a mother. Her inability to conceive put a great deal of stress on her conjugal life with Miller and she once again turned to sleeping pills, together with drugs and alcohol to cope with her emotional turmoil. Eventually, their relationship began to crumble, when Monroe went back to work on The Misfits, written by Miller and shortly before the premiere of the film, the couple divorced on 20 January 1961, after five years of their marriage and just 19 months before her tragic death.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
With Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot

While Tony Curtis and Monroe had been lovers before filming Billy Wilder's  comedy Some Like It Hot (1959), she briefly dated Frank Sinatra after her divorce from Arthur Miller and their romance cooled off by 1961, when Sinatra proposed to Juliet Prowse. It is said that her second husband DiMaggio was furious with mutual friend Frank Sinatra for introducing her to the Kennedy brothers, John and Bobby, both of whom were rumoured to be involved with her. On 19 May 1962, she appeared on the stage at a Democratic Fundraiser at Madison Square Garden in New York, wearing a skin-tight, transparent, beige-coloured dress, studded with 2500 rhinestones, to sing ’Happy Birthday, Mr President’ for John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was on the front row to witness the surreal performance.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers

There have been several speculated stories over the years about Marilyn's affair with John Kennedy and later with his brother Robert. It is said that Monroe was in love with President Kennedy and wanted to marry him and when their affair failed to materialize, she turned to Robert Kennedy. Subsequently, it also came to light that Robert Kennedy visited Marilyn in Los Angeles the day that she died. Some have even suggested that her relationship with the two men played a role in her untimely death and her death, attributed to suicide, was simply a cover-up to prevent her from revealing her relationship with the Kennedy brothers. Marilyn Monroe, one of the most iconic figures in film history was found dead on her bed on 5 August 1962 and was ruled a suicide, due to barbiturate overdose at 36. However, the legend of Marilyn Monroe never dies, she is immortalized.

marilyn monroe and her famous lovers
Jodie Foster, the Lion and the Lovers
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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