The Times London

Marilyn Monroe made love ‘like gods fighting’, DiMaggio revealed

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio on their wedding day in San Francisco in 1954. Picture: AP
  • The Times
  • May 10, 2017

“A huge squad of reporters and biographers have strained to tell the story of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe: a torrid marriage that occupied a mere nine months of 1954 but secured an everlasting place in American culture.

The baseball legend was never much help. “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” Paul Simon sang, as the retired sportsman withdrew from public life. “A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Even DiMaggio’s closest companions said he would not tolerate questions about Monroe. But it turns out he did talk freely with one man — his foot doctor. “Doc, I was married to this great gal, Marilyn,” DiMaggio told Rock Positano, a podiatrist who became his friend in the last decade of his life.

Dr Positano says that to keep the confidences flowing, he was careful not to react as DiMaggio described making love to Monroe.

“When we got together in the bedroom it was like the gods were fighting; there were thunderclouds and lightning,” DiMaggio said in a New York restaurant. “Doc, Marilyn told me that no man ever satisfied her like I did.”

Dr Positano says he greeted these revelations with silence, gripping his fork and staring at his Greek pastry. Needless to say, the doctor has written a book, Dinner With DiMaggio, detailing conversations on Monroe, Frank Sinatra, the Kennedys and other topics on which DiMaggio, in public life, maintained a stubborn silence.

“Joe told me outright that he’d tell me these stories so ‘maybe they’ll be of good use one day’, which means to me that Joe knew someday I’d respect his wishes and write a respectable memoir on him,” Dr Positano said yesterday.

DiMaggio pitched up at his clinic in 1990, seeking some help with his right foot. In 1949, at the height of his career, he had suffered a bone spur in his heel that caused him to miss 65 games. A botched surgery forced his retirement two years later. The chance to see DiMaggio’s injured heel “was a foot doctor’s fantasy”, Dr Positano writes.

But DiMaggio did not immediately bare his sole. He would not allow x-rays of his foot, because he feared they would end up on the auction block. Nevertheless, he apparently liked the doctor, because three months later he arrived alone at his offices and asked if Dr Positano wanted to go for a coffee. Steadily, in the years that followed, the two men became dining companions.

DiMaggio had a crush on Australian model Elle Macpherson and would ask Dr Positano, who also treated her, to stroll with him near her building in the hope of seeing her. She was unavailable, but once faxed DiMaggio a birthday greeting.

The doctor says he made notes after each dinner, sure the conversation was historically important.

DiMaggio and Monroe got on exceptionally well in every way, he says. Dr Positano writes that the “only big issue … was her personal hygiene”. DiMaggio, who was scrupulously clean, “complained that she wouldn’t take a bath for days, probably because of her bouts of depression”.

Obituary writers pinned the breakdown of their marriage on a private man’s struggle with his wife’s public image, linking the divorce to a loud argument they had after Monroe shot the famous scene from The Seven Year Itch, standing over a subway grate with her skirt riding up before an appreciative crowd. But DiMaggio told Dr Positano they broke up because Monroe could not have children. “Marilyn was hurt by the woman thing — her inability to have children,” he said.

She would go on to marry the playwright Arthur Miller. Later, she “told Sinatra that she always thought of me when she made love with Miller … and kept a picture of me hidden in one of her closets”, DiMaggio told the doctor. “That drove Miller crazy and right to the divorce court.”

DiMaggio said she wanted to remarry, but he would not, because of “my god-damned pride”.

Sinatra was said to have introduced Monroe to President John F. Kennedy — an entanglement DiMaggio blamed for her sudden death, in 1962, which was ruled a suicide.

“I remember being called to the mortuary,” DiMaggio said, according to the book. “I helped the undertaker pick out a dress, made sure her make-up was right and that she looked good when her hair was done. I banned my good friend Frank Sinatra and all the other bastards from the funeral.””

The Times