Today in History... Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio dies, aged 84

Before Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Prince Charles and Lady Diana and Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, there was Joe and Marilyn.

In 1969, a poll conducted to coincide with the bicentennial of professional baseball voted Joe DiMaggio the sport's greatest living player - partly thanks to his 56-game record hitting streak, which still stands to this day.

One of three brothers who each became major league centre fielders - the others being Vince and Dom - Joe was a three-time 'Most Valuable Player' winner, and the only player to be selected for the All-Star Game in every season - totaling 13 - that he played.

"There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best." - Joe DiMaggio

It's said that Marilyn Monroe didn't want to meet the New York Yankees star Joseph Paul "Joe" DiMaggio at first, fearing he was a stereotypical jock.

But, by early 1954, their courtship had captivated the nation.

DiMaggio and Monroe on honeymoon in Tokyo, 1953
DiMaggio and Monroe on honeymoon
in Tokyo, 1953

However, according to biographers and historians, their complex relationship was marred by jealousy, yelling battles and perhaps even violence.

Monroe filed for divorce on the grounds of "mental cruelty", 274 days after their wedding.

Some years after a news source reported DiMaggio's possible engagement to 1957's Miss America, Marian McKnight - who won her crown with a Monroe impersonation - his path again crossed with (the real) Monroe.

Rumours of possible remarriage surrounded the couple during the last year of Monroe's life. Eventually, DiMaggio - by then retired from Baseball - quit his job with a military post-exchange supplier on August 1, 1962, to ask Monroe to remarry him.

She was found dead just days later, on August 5.

For 20 years, DiMaggio reportedly had half-a-dozen red roses delivered to Monroe's crypt. Unlike her other two husbands, he refused to publicly talk about or otherwise exploit their relationship, and never remarried.

DiMaggio died in 1999 from complications related to lung cancer. His gravestone reads: "Grace, dignity and elegance personified."


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