Joe DiMaggio’s Heart-Wrenching Gesture for Marilyn Monroe That He Continued for 20 Years After Her Death

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s marriage may have been short lived but their strong attachment to one another lasted much longer. The iconic actress married the New York Yankees star in January 1954 before she filed for divorce in October of the same year after a tumultuous and argumentative nine month marriage.

According to reports from the time, DiMaggio did not respond well to his then-wife filming a now-historic scene from The Seven Year Itch in which Monroe stands over a subway grate, making her white dress fly up. “[DiMaggio] said … exposing my legs and thighs, even my crotch — that was the last straw,” Monroe reportedly said after the scene. After the split, DiMaggio’s obsession with Monroe continued, spilling into another infamous moment in which he and Frank Sinatra were accused of trying to catch Monroe with another man but ended up breaking into the wrong apartment.

The two reentered each other’s lives in 1961 after Monroe’s marriage to Arthur Miller dissolved. Based on what was reported at the time, it appeared to two formed a strong friendship with DiMaggio acting as the troubled star’s protector in her final years. It was reportedly DiMaggio who secured Monroe’s release from a New York psychiatric clinic before taking her to his Florida home. Though rumors circulated that the pair were back together, this was never confirmed. When Monroe died of a suspected overdose on August 5, 1962, a devastated DiMaggio claimed her body and planned her funeral.

Ever the protector, DiMaggio rarely spoke about Monroe publicly again in order to keep their relationship private. He also never remarried and, according to reports, his final words on his deathbed in 1999 were, “I’ll finally get to see ­Marilyn again.” He also continued on a loving tradition in the decades between her death and his own.

According to Biography, DiMaggio organized to have roses delivered to Monroe’s Los Angeles crypt three times a week for 20 years after her death. “I’ll go to my grave regretting and blaming myself for what happened to her,” DiMaggio is quoted as saying after her passing. “Sinatra told me later that ‘Marilyn loved me anyway, to the end.’”

Before you go, click here to see photos of Marilyn Monroe’s too-short life.

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