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Wednesday, November 1
Business was about the only thing that held Joe's attention

Editor's note: is running excerpts from Richard Ben Cramer's Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life recently published by Simon & Schuster. These are the third of three parts from Chapter 15 and our last excerpt from the book.

Even with the Miss Americas, a lot of Joe's dates were business. There were a number of nights, for instance, when he was "out on a date" at the Stork Club with perhaps the most notable former, Yolande Betbeze, Miss America 1951. Yolande and Joe had both been paid to show up, and lend the place a little glamour. They'd appear on TV (the Stork Club had its own show) -- and they were both good names for ink in the papers the following day.

But Joe was hardly Yolande's cup of tea. She was a woman of sophistication, and could talk like Joe could play center field. The only time she saw Joe, when they weren't just being seen, was when she was doing a good deed in Paris. Yolande had come from Mobile, Alabama, and there was a girl from her home state -- another great beauty, some years her junior -- who'd had a broken engagement and was teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. So Yolande took her to Europe, to get her mind off things. In Paris, they ran into Joe, who also favored the Continent to get his mind off things. (He could binge there without making news.) And Joe being Joe, when he ran into Yolande and her friend, he hit on the blond one, the wounded duck. So Yolande was treated (strictly as a spectator) to the sight of DiMaggio sitting on an upper-story staircase of the Hotel George V (those wonderful stairs that curve around the elevators), very late at night, trying to talk the wounded duck into his bed. The problem was, DiMaggio was so loaded, he could barely talk at all -- so stinko, in fact, that his pants were open, with his member lying exposed upon his leg. ("And that," as Yolande would recall, "was the biggest thing you ever saw.")* There was one Miss America whom Joe actually approached on his own. And he took her out on real dates, too. That was Marian McKnight, the five-foot-five-inch blond Miss South Carolina. Joe happened to be in attendance at the Atlantic City Convention Hall when she was crowned Miss America 1957 . . . after she wowed the talent competition with her impersonation of Marilyn Monroe. Joe went right backstage to meet her.

That was another pattern. There were a lot of Marilyn Monroe acts in those years, and if he could do so without making news, Joe took them all in. Here, for example, is the recollection of the burlesque artist, Liz Renay, from her memoir, My First 2,000 Men (Joe made the chapter called "Celebrities"):

"There were wild bed scenes with Joe DiMaggio. I'd won the Marilyn Monroe Look-Alike contest for Twentieth Century Fox. He and Marilyn were no longer together and, so his friends said, he kept trying to get glimpses of his Marilyn by looking at me.

"Joe DiMaggio was not only a good lover but a nice, likeable guy -- a real gentleman. I had at least a dozen liaisons with 'Joltin' Joe' in various hotel rooms and especially in his Mayflower Hotel suite. He was a once-a-night lover, but as he so nicely put it, 'I only come once, but I last a long time.'

"Joe liked variety in his women. A delivery boy from the drugstore downstairs once whispered to me that just about every time he made a delivery Joe had a different girl in the apartment."

Things didn't work out quite so nicely for Dixie Evans -- despite her well-earned reputation as the Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque. She'd got the name from Mr. Minsky himself (she was a Minsky Girl) in Newark, New Jersey. At that time, her act was a casting couch skit. Dixie was the actress. She took her clothes off, and got the part. Mr. Minsky said she looked like Marilyn, and she should use the name.

Suddenly, she was a headliner.

By the late 1950s, when she was working Miami Beach, at the Place Pigalle (a beautiful club, with French motif -- they even had murals in the bathroom), Dixie wasn't just the big name on the marquee. An airplane flew past the beach hotels -- every day, four passes a day -- towing a banner that read: "See the Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque, Place Pigalle." The plane always went by the Fontainebleau, where the celebs stayed, and they all came to see her. Sinatra, Bogart . . . Walter Cronkite came in every year with Chris Schenkel. Schenkel told her she should come to the Kentucky Derby. He'd announce her, coming in: "Ladies and gentlemen, it's Marilyn Monroe! Oh, my mistake. It's Dixie Evans! She'll be playing at the Post and Paddock this evening." (Wouldn't that be good advertising?) . . . Anyway, they all loved her act -- which, at that point, involved Joe and his bat.

Joe DiMaggio was not only a good lover but a nice, likeable guy -- a real gentleman. I had at least a dozen liaisons with 'Joltin' Joe' in various hotel rooms and especially in his Mayflower Hotel suite.
burlesque artist, Liz Renay in her memoir

One night, the owner of Pigalle came to Dixie's table, to tell her Joe DiMaggio was in attendance, and he wanted to talk to her. So, Dixie excused herself from her companions, and was introduced to Joe -- and to the famous sportswriter Grantland Rice, and Mr. Skinny D'Amato, of the 500 Club in Atlantic City. Skinny and the writer were pretty profane guys and they were slinging it around pretty good, but Joe was gentlemanly. He leaned over, and whispered in her ear, "Just excuse that conversation." She'd heard it all before, of course, but that was nice. And he was so handsome -- with a little gray.

Pretty soon it was time to go on, but Dixie was thinking -- Wait a minute! I don't want to do this act in front of Joe! . . . And she told him that. He said: "Why do you think I came here?" And he told her how he went backstage to meet some eighteen-year-old girl who'd done a Marilyn imitation at the Miss America Pageant. So, Dixie got up, and did her thing.

Her thing was this: She entered in a tight satin gown, a long scarf, and a Yankee cap, with a Number 5 on it -- and crying, boo-hooing, which mood she explained in song:

Joe, you walked off and left me flat --
But I'm sure glad you left your bat . . .

There were a few lines about baseball, and spaghetti, and how he'd stop in the middle of making love to say, "What's the score?" . . .

But I know . . .
You'll still return my calls.
Why? It's simple -- I've still got you
By your New York Yankee base --
(badaboomcha, strike up the band) . . .

Afterward, when she came out from her dressing room, Joe stood up and motioned her over. She sat with him all night. He didn't say much. He never mentioned the act, or talked about Marilyn. But he kept sneaking glances at Dixie, checking her out. And he stayed until she'd done her last set, at a quarter to five. Then he invited her to breakfast. So the four of them went to Wolfie's. The guys had ham and eggs. Dixie had a fruit cup. "Izzat all you want?" Joe kept asking. She said, sure. She was starving, but trying to be ladylike.

After breakfast, Skinny and the writer left the two of them alone on the sidewalk. Joe took her makeup kit and started to get a cab. Dixie said, "I just live right across the park. We can walk." So Joe carried her bag home.

Dixie's mother met them at the door. She was wearing curlers, looked like a scared cat jumping up in the air. Dixie excused herself and went to her bedroom to freshen up. Dixie's mom hied to her room. And Joe paced the living room, picking up trinkets. When Dixie came out he gave her a long kiss. And, as she said, it was magic. With a lot of important men she had to invent the magic. But with Joe, it was real. Her knees went weak. And she noticed he was kind of aroused, too. The kissing got pretty heavy -- but her mother was in the next room. So Joe said, "Do you want to go to the Flamingo Stakes?" (That was the big horse race at Hialeah.) And he told her to meet him at the Fontainebleau at twelve-thirty.

Well, then came the funny part, or the tragic part -- she was never sure which. She rushed off to the beauty parlor, and was baking under a hairdryer hood, when the owner of the Place Pigalle rushed in and found her. "What are you doing?" he was yelling. "We're supposed to be in court this morning!"

"But I have a date with Joe DiMaggio."

"You have a date in court."

So she went to court, got stuck there, and stood up Joe DiMaggio. "He probably thinks I'm a rotten person," she says. "That's the last I ever saw him." (Years later, when her coffeepot broke, she called Mr. Coffee, and said she was a friend of Joe's. But she didn't get a new coffeepot -- and he didn't call.)

Even that near-date with Dixie at the racetrack was business for Joe. In those lost years, business was about the only thing that held his attention. Or you could put it another way: once Marilyn threw him out, the only way he'd be Joe DiMaggio was for the business of being DiMaggio . . . and that's where Skinny D'Amato came in. Skinny curried favor with the biggest players by offering them a chance to meet -- to chat with, or sit with, to say they hung around with -- that legend in the flesh, the Yankee Clipper. It was more or less like a big casino hiring a "greeter" -- a former heavyweight champ, or an ex-major leaguer -- someone the suckers could talk about: they'd met him, they shook hands, they had a laugh together. But like all of Skinny and Joe's business, this was of the private variety.

That was one reason Joe liked D'Amato, for the privacy that was Skinny's rule. Joe could go into the 500, and sit in the back room all day, maybe play a little cards. . . . It was bigger, fancier of course, but for Joe it was more or less like LaRocca's Corner, back in North Beach, when he was growing up. No one would bother him in there. And if he did talk to one of D'Amato's friends, Skinny would make that worth Joe's while. . . . If he went down to Florida with Skinny for a big race, Joe might lose twenty bucks at the track. (He was a two-dollar bettor.) But Skinny would give him a couple of grand, just for sitting with some pals. If Joe would go out for a round of golf at the Breakers with one of Skinny's big guys, that was a better payday -- five grand at least.

(And Skinny took care of Joe, more or less like Toots always did. Any subject involving the Clipper's welfare, Skinny had opinions and an interest. Joe's teeth for example: Joe never got his buck teeth fixed until Skinny took care of it -- put him with the Dentist to the Stars in New York. Everybody got their TV teeth from that guy -- from the vice president, Nixon, on down -- or up. . . . In Joe's case, that was the first sign that he might actually be getting over Marilyn. She'd always said she could never love a man with perfect teeth. But Joe went ahead and got a nice new grille, like a Roadmaster Buick.)

Of course, Joe knew who Skinny's pals were -- or why they were pals. For instance, there was the man who went by the name of Walter Thomas. Joe had to have a talk about him with a pair of New York police detectives, and a couple of district attorneys. And for that sort of talk, the investigating officers later typed up a transcript:

"Q. You know a Walter Thomas, and did you make reservations for him at the Madison Hotel in 1957 at the request of Paul D-Amato?
"A. Yes, Paul De-Amato is the owner of a Five Hundred Club, Atlantic City, and when I am in Atlantic City I spend a lot of time there just sitting around. He called me about a Mr. Thomas during the World Series of 1957 and asked me to make reservations for him at the Madison where I was living at that time. . . .
"Q. Where did you meet [Mr. Thomas]?
"A. When in Atlantic City I would sit around the Five Hundred Club. I saw him there. I only called him Tommy.
"Q. What business is Tommy in?
"A. I don't know.
"Q. If you had to guess what would you say?
"A. I would guess he was a gambler."

The reason Joe had that uncomfortable chat (it went on for more than an hour) was because his pal Tommy had taken him over to the Warwick Hotel to meet three Cuban mobsters who wanted Joe to front a gambling operation in Havana. And on the way up, in the elevator of the Warwick, Joe's pal Tommy said he had to stop by another room . . . so Joe went with him to the room of Albert Anastasia, who was, at that moment, the boss of bosses in New York organized crime. Unfortunately, those visits had come to official attention -- because that was the day that Albert Anastasia was lamentably shot dead in a barber chair at the Park Sheraton Hotel. Joe was upset with his pals for taking him to talk with the mob boss on the day of his death. (What if the hit had taken place in the Warwick?)

Of course, the way Joe tried to tell it to the cops, the Cubans were only baseball fans -- Joe only walked across town and went up to their room to chat about the World Series. And Anastasia -- gosh, he didn't know who that was! . . . Joe also dummied up (nope, he never saw the guy) when the cops showed him a picture of Joe Adonis (with whom Joe and Georgie used to drink by the hour, in Adonis's own joint). And he could only shrug -- never saw her, either -- when the cops showed a picture of Liz Renay. (Funny, she seemed to know him so well.)

Thing was, Joe could say whatever he wanted to those cops -- or any cops. Joe took the same tack when the FBI sat him down to inquire why he was playing golf with the boss of Chicago crime, Sam Giancana. Joe said, that was just a guy he happened to meet. He wasn't going to volunteer the fact that Giancana was a pal since Joe was playing ball. He wasn't going to say that Sam G. was always good for a broad, or a payday, in Chicago. Or that he got messages frequently, through Georgie Solotaire (who referred to that pal as "Sam from Chi"). Joe did not make an effort to explain that he was also friends with Giancana's girlfriend, Phyllis McGuire . . . and Giancana's younger girlfriend, Judy Campbell . . . and when Judy came to New York, Giancana told her to call Joe D. -- and he'd get her into the Plaza Hotel. . . . Why should Joe tell them any of that? No investigation was going to lay a glove on the Yankee Clipper.

And that was one thing the mob guys loved about Joe. He didn't talk. And no one was ever going to make him talk. Why would the cops be bothering a hero? . . . That's what convinced Longy Zwillman that Joe was such a good, safe bet -- just the man to help him with his problem. Longy had a problem with cash.

Actually, Longy had two problems with cash. For one thing, once the Kefauver snoops couldn't make anything stick on Zwillman, they got nasty and turned him over to the tax guys. And of course the tax guys, the way they were, started poking around trying to figure out what money Longy had, and how did he get it. But Longy couldn't explain all his money, in a nice federal way. The other problem Longy had was with his partners in the syndicate, on whose turf and in whose rackets Longy was continually poaching. So, even with his peers and associates, Longy couldn't explain all his cash. So what Longy used to do was to put some money in a suitcase -- say, a couple of hundred G's -- and he'd show up at your home with his suitcase, and explain, in his quiet way: "This is my money. When I need it I'll be back for it." Of course, no one touched Longy's "boxes" because bad things could happen. And about that time, Longy also figured out that the last guy in the country the feds would ever bother was his old friend Joe DiMaggio. So, after a while, Longy had thirteen "boxes" out with friends. And three of the boxes had been placed with the Yankee Clipper. Longy figured Joe had plenty of room in San Francisco.

It was that sort of figuring that convinced Joe he ought to have a real job. Not only would it help him, if he had to explain his own finances, but it might make him less available for the sort of deals that made him nervous. Also, he could use the money. (Joe Jr. was now going to Lawrenceville Prep, which cost Big Joe plenty.) . . . Sid Luckman, the old Bears quarterback, had a pal he wanted to put Joe D. with. And that was how Joe found employment with the V. H. Monette Co., of Smithfield, Virginia.

Come to think of it, it was the same job -- just a different target audience. The Monette Company was the number one supplier of merchandise for U.S. military post exchange stores, all over the world. That was a business with a lot of work for a greeter. Joe and the boss, Val Monette, would turn up in Frankfurt, Germany (or Okinawa, Otranto, San Diego, Lakeland, Florida -- wherever the contracts were coming up), to play a round of golf with the general in command of the U.S. base there -- and maybe the colonel who ran the PX. Joe might coach some Little Leaguers on the base, or reminisce of an evening in the officers club. And that was all that was required. The generals and colonels were thrilled. They'd be talking about it for months. And Val Monette was thrilled. Business had never been better. Valmore Monette had an instinct for promotion. Two things he thought were top-of-the-line -- and two things for which his company was known -- were Joe DiMaggio, and Miss Americas. Monette employed as many formers as he could. (Joe got to meet them all.) And Monette promoted DiMaggio's affiliation with the company by announcing that he paid the Yankee Clipper a hundred G's a year. (Joe was happy to announce that, too.) . . . In point of fact -- on the testimony of one pal who saw Joe's pay stub -- Joe's wage worked out to about thirty-five grand. But Monette threw in a suite at the Lexington Hotel in New York, and picked up all the tabs when he and Joe were on the road. It worked out great. In fact, Joe stayed with the company for almost three years -- and even when he left, that was pretty good publicity, because Monette told everybody that DiMaggio resigned to go back with Marilyn Monroe.

And that may well have been what Joe told him. But it was also true that Joe didn't need to work anymore . . . because of a lamentable event in New Jersey. Longy Zwillman was found (alas, dead) hanging from the chandelier in his house. The cops in West Orange marked it down as suicide -- poor Longy, the feds had hounded him to an early grave. . . .

(Actually, the cops put it on the logs as a suicide, before the body was even discovered. This was the kind of suicide that somebody phoned in. According to pals in New York, what happened was Longy had poached once too often. His boys had hijacked a truckload of beef that was destined for Petey Castellano, in Brooklyn. So Castellano got upset and sent three guys to West Orange, New Jersey, to hang Longy up like a side of beef. Problem was, Castellano's guys forgot the meathook -- so what could they do? . . . They strung Longy up from his chandelier instead.) But meanwhile, there was Joe DiMaggio, with three of Longy's "boxes" -- and what was he to do with the cash? Take it to the cops, and say, "I found this?" . . .

Probably not. Of course, he'd never paid any taxes on it, either -- which also made it inconvenient to bring up. This was where his lifelong habitude of quiet came in handy. Joe kept the money in his storeroom at the Marina house, and never said a word about it, for years.

Joe Jr.'s problem was, he couldn't get his dad down to Lawrenceville, New Jersey, to visit at the new school -- which would have done a lot to put Junior on the map. That was only one of Junior's problems. Another was, the schoolwork was hard. (As he wrote to his mom: "Algebra . . . Whew!") The major problem was, he was sixteen years old, and still not quite five feet seven, a bit of a butterball at one hundred sixty pounds. That put varsity football out of reach, for the moment -- unless he could be the kicker . . . but in his first junior varsity game, Butch missed the extra point, and Lawrenceville lost 7-6. ("I guess you know how badly I felt . . .") So, he explained in a letter home to mom, maybe it was better that "J.D." hadn't come to watch.

That's how he often referred to his dad, or sometimes as "my father." It gave his references to Big Joe a weary and adult air that probably mirrored Dorothy's. As Junior noted in one letter home: "JD has tried to be charming in his miserable sort of way, but then I guess he's doing better than what I expected, and he knows no different so we bless him and give him our love."

In fact, in that fall of 1957, J.D. was trying to make the boy part of his life -- which, in Big Joe's case, meant bringing him in as one of the guys. Here, for example, is Junior's happy recollection of Thanksgiving vacation in New York with J.D. "Chuck Heller went with me because he is a long way from home and had no place to go.

"Wednesday -- arrived in New York about 3:00. went to Toots Shors had dinner and Chuck and I went bowling. First game 109 second game 160. Then home went the two noble warriors. Asked J.D. for tickets to "My Fair Lady." Wound up sitting in 'house seats' (second row center) . . . Wow!! It was a great show, but I guess you can imagine. After the show we went to Dinty Moore's had a bite to eat then home. Bed.

"Thursday -- after eating breakfast we watched the football games on T.V. Then over to Toots's home for Thanksgiving dinner. It was really good!! After dinner We went to see a new musical called Rumple. It starred Eddie Foy Jr. and we enjoyed it very much. Back to Toots's home where we met Frank Gifford, Charley Connerly, and Kyle Rote, the players on the NY Giants football team. Afterwards home again. Bed.

"Friday -- slept most of the day. Met another boy from school and the three of us plus George Solotaire and Dad went to the Colony for dinner! Great! Then we went out on the town and met a bunch of kids from school. Finally home to bed.

"Saturday -- up at 7:30. Caught train to Phila. on our way to the Army Navy Game. 7 in our party. There were J.D., Chuck, Eddie Arcaro's son, Toots, his daughter, John Daly and myself. Sat in the rain. It was miserable but we had a great time, Lots of fun! Bad game! Home after the game. J.D. was feeling lousy because of the cold in his back so the two of us joined George Solotaire, his wife, son, son's wife and mother-in-law for dinner. Afterward I took Chuck to see Around the World in 80 Days. He enjoyed it. So did I. Had a couple of Hamburgers at Hamburger Heaven after the show. then Home!

"Sunday -- up late! Ate breakfast and then we went to the Giants 49ers football game! Had to leave at the half so we could get back to school in time. Score 17-7. Finally got back to school."

He was very seldom alone with his dad, but it was more time than the boy could ever remember spending with Big Joe. And Junior loved it. He felt like he was becoming one of the guys -- coming of age as a DiMaggio -- though that wasn't something he would write home to mom. Nor would he write what he did talk about with his father, one of their major points of contact: Junior was in touch with Mrs. Arthur Miller. Marilyn had never stopped caring for Joe Jr. (She did like him -- that was all real.) Joe Jr. could always call her on the phone, just to talk. And that was one thing that put him on the map with his dad.

The sad part was, from the time Joe Jr. came east to prep school -- through all his years at Lawrenceville, in fact -- the news from Marilyn wasn't often good. While Junior had that slap-up Thanksgiving with his dad, Marilyn was in slow and painful recovery from a miscarriage that plunged her into depression, and a suicide attempt that shook everyone around her. She wasn't talking, in those days, about her dream of becoming a great stage actress -- she didn't talk about anything she was doing -- and that first year Junior was in New Jersey, she didn't even make one picture.

By his second year, she did go back to work (on a picture called Some Like It Hot) but in the middle of filming, she was once again hospitalized for "nervous exhaustion." Everyone around her was exhausted by her -- every scene was a million retakes, and sometimes, she wouldn't appear on the set till late afternoon. The gossip columns were filled with her problems, and resentful reactions from her co-stars and crew. Everything Big Joe read in the papers just confirmed for him what he'd always said: those phonies around her were going to ruin her. And he'd ask Joe Jr. -- had he talked to Marilyn lately? . . . And did she ask about his dad?

The good news (at least for Big Joe) was she did ask about him. She had never cast him out of her mind -- never worked at forgetting him. (For example, the combination lock on her jewelry box was still, and always, 5-5-5.) And her thoughts always turned to Joe in times of trouble -- she was in trouble, now. It wasn't just career woes of the old sort. When Some Like It Hot finally did come out, it set box office records through the spring and summer of 1959 -- it would become the most successful comedy in Hollywood history. But Marilyn was in trouble with herself, in herself. All the dreams that were her life rafts had come apart as she clutched for them.

Her studies to become a stage actress had led precisely nowhere. That sent her back to Hollywood, for Some Like It Hot. Her role in that picture, and even its huge success, convinced her that the industry (and the public) only loved her as the ditzy blond bombshell (in this case, too dumb to see that Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis were men). But how would she ever escape that role, now? She had broken her partnership with Milton Greene, and Marilyn Monroe Productions was now nothing more than a shell.

Another miscarriage convinced her that she could never be the wife and mother that Arthur Miller wanted. (His protests that the want of a child came from her, not him, did nothing to console her.) . . . Desperately, to show his love, Miller started writing a screenplay for her -- The Misfits -- that would finally give scope to her dramatic talents. But in practice, that only meant that Miller was squirreled away in his writing studio all day, every day -- and Marilyn was left alone.

Now most of her days began around noon, in a lingering barbiturate haze. And even when she woke she would stay in her darkened room, drinking (first a stiff Bloody Mary, and then champagne all afternoon) . . . until she mustered courage to leave her bed. Her maids and attendants would hear Frank Sinatra on Marilyn's record player . . .

All of me,
Why not take all of me?
Can't you see,
I'm no good without you?

. . . as Marilyn made the trip across the room, to her closet, where, inside the door, there was a full-length picture of Joe DiMaggio.

Now Marilyn's lifeline was the telephone. And according to her New York maid, there were two callers who could always cheer Marilyn up -- two men she'd loved and left: Frank Sinatra, and Joe DiMaggio.

She hadn't told anybody when she started calling Joe again -- except in the most cryptic way. She used to say: "I guess everybody I've ever loved, I still love a little bit." And there was another unintended hint to her change of attitude. Once, when a friend asked how she could be so bitchy to Arthur Miller -- she'd berate him, and order him around in public (fetch her purse, get her mink) -- Marilyn shrugged, and blamed it on him: "Why didn't he slap me? He should have slapped me."

Joe didn't talk about her calls, either -- except to mention them happily to two or three fellows in the network. For one thing, she was still (nominally) Mrs. Arthur Miller. Joe didn't want it said he'd interfered in that marriage. And the last thing he wanted was the papers finding out. He didn't want any public pressure on their "friendship" -- the way he saw it, that's what turned things wrong the first time. (In fact, all through 1960, when Joe and Marilyn's conversations were more and more fond and frequent, the papers were nattering on about the new love of Marilyn's life, Yves Montand. The Frenchman had been the co-star in her film that year, Let's Make Love. She was said to be besotted with him -- like a schoolgirl -- that was Montand's recollection. The only thing Marilyn said, publicly, was that she considered Montand a most attractive man. In private, she said why -- she told friends he reminded her of Joe DiMaggio.)

The odd part was, Sinatra's calls had to be secret, too -- not only from Mr. Miller, but from Joe. He would have hit the roof. Since the Wrong-Door Raid, DiMaggio would have nothing to do with Sinatra. He thought Frank had set him up -- so Sinatra could jump into bed with Marilyn. Sinatra, for his part, didn't take DiMaggio that seriously. He didn't even take Marilyn that seriously. That was one thing she liked about "Frankie." He didn't want to change her, fix her, rescue her. Frankie knew how to have a good time. In that, he was the perfect antidote to Mr. Miller. Marilyn's faithful reverence for her playwright husband was a thing of the past. Now her attitude toward him swung wildly from pole to pole -- oftentimes all in the same day. She might contend one minute that whatever she did was unimportant, as long as she did not disturb Arthur, who must be allowed to write -- his work was all that mattered. And next minute, she might be crying and demanding that he pay attention to her -- he had coldly abandoned her! That might be followed by a bout of self-loathing, and pity for Arthur: she was barren both as his wife and his muse -- poor man! And soon thereafter, she might be screaming her scorn for him -- he had produced nothing, while she supported them. There were times she suspected him of forcing her back to Hollywood -- and dumb-blondehood -- all for money. And when he showed her the pages of his great love offering, The Misfits, she found her character, Roslyn, to be passive, preachy, and in spots, "just lousy."

By the time The Misfits started filming, in the summer of 1960, Miller had been cowed into never-ending rewrites, night after night, on location in the Nevada desert. The script kept changing with his attitude toward his wife -- and neither one was getting any better. It was apparent to everyone on location that this movie -- which Miller had begun as an affirmation of his love -- would end up putting paid to his marriage. Marilyn humiliated Miller at every turn, and at length exiled him from her hotel suite (she slept instead with her coach, Paula Strasberg).

But it was also clear that Marilyn's problems weren't likely to end with that marriage. Now, she wasn't just afraid of the camera, late to the set, fuzzy on her lines. She was taking so many pills (and injections) that the cinematographer protested, he couldn't photograph her. (He could see it through his lens -- her eyes wouldn't focus.) And once again, production was shut down, as Marilyn was hospitalized for a week. When The Misfits was finally finished, in November 1960 -- forty days and God knows how many dollars over budget -- Marilyn was all but uninsurable as a motion picture star.

And after production the news got worse. One week later came the announcement that her marriage to Arthur Miller was over. (This time, she'd get a quickie divorce in Mexico.) A week after that, her co-star, Clark Gable, died of a heart attack. Marilyn and her maddening troubles were blamed for imposing too much stress on the King. By January 1961, the film had premiered -- and was adjudged to be a dud. Marilyn was back in New York, in the East 57th Street apartment that she and Mr. Miller used to share. Now, he was gone (to their country house in Connecticut). Marilyn was alone with her staff, with her pills, and splits of champagne. She had no projects and no prospect of work -- nothing to get her out of bed -- except appointments with her psychiatrist, Dr. Marianne Kris. Marilyn wasn't sleeping well, or eating well -- she wasn't well in any way. So, on February 5, 1961, Dr. Kris drove her to the Cornell University medical center on New York's East Side, where Marilyn checked herself in for a rest.

Immediately, she was taken to the Payne Whitney psychiatric division, where she was locked into a cell, on the ward for the truly psychotic patients. Her screams of protest, her demands to be released, were ignored (or taken as evidence of her sickness). When she broke the pane of glass in her (locked) bathroom door, she was threatened with restraint and watched day and night. And to whom could she appeal? Her doctor had betrayed her.

For Marilyn this was the worst fear of her life come true -- she was locked away like her mother -- a prisoner in a loony bin. So, after three days, when she was finally permitted one call, she phoned to Florida. She called Joe DiMaggio. He was there the next day, at the Payne Whitney reception desk -- six feet one and a half inches tall, wide at the shoulders, glowering darkly, and in no mood for talk.

"I want my wife," DiMaggio said.

No one pointed out to him that he and Marilyn Monroe had not been married for six years. Instead, they tried to tell him they had no authority to release Miss Monroe -- to him or to anyone else.

"I want my wife," DiMaggio said, with menacing precision. His large hands gripped the reception desk. "And if you do not release her to me, I will take this place apart -- piece of wood, by piece . . . of . . . wood."

Suddenly, the Payne Whitney staff discovered that Miss Monroe was free to go. Joe had Marilyn transferred crosstown, to another hospital, Columbia Presbyterian, where she could have a real rest -- in a normal private room -- which he would visit daily, and which he'd fill with roses.

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Richard Ben Cramer is the author of the bestselling What It Takes: The Way to the White House, which was acclaimed as one of the finest books ever written on American politics. His journalism has appeared in Rolling Stone, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Time and Newsweek. His dispatches from the Middle East for the Philadelphia Inquirer won the Pultizer Prize for International Reporting in 1979. with his wife and daughter, he lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

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