“Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love” – Biography Filled with Factual Errors …What Are the Facts?

Marilyn and Joe during their honeymoon exiting a plane while at Itami Airport in Japan. An original slide from the collection of Jennifer Jean Miller.

Marilyn and Joe during their honeymoon exiting a plane while at Itami Airport in Japan. An original slide from the collection of Jennifer Jean Miller and a photo featured in her own book.

By Jennifer Jean Miller

Somehow, though C. David Heymann a celebrity biographer, died in 2012, his book, Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love, is scheduled for release this July 1.

As a lifetime fan of Marilyn’s, someone who is very knowledgeable about Joe and an author myself of a book on Marilyn and Joe, Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio – Love In Japan, Korea & Beyond, I was shocked to read an article about the contents of Heymann’s book, and the many factual inaccuracies within this book.

This is not the first time that C. David Heymann, though an author with many books under his belt sold, has had issues with keeping his facts straight. According to the obituary written about him in The New York Times, Random House — the publisher for Heymann’s 1983 book about heiress Barbara Hutton — recalled and also destroyed 58,000 copies because it was laced with inaccuracies…though the book was already out in stores.

Heymann’s response to the issue with his Barbara Hutton book, in addition to a suicide attempt, was a cavalier one: “I may have made an error or two, or three, or four, or five — but at least I tried to write an accurate biography.”

One of the major errors in his book, for example, was noting a doctor, Edward Kantor, prescribed copious drugs to Barbara Hutton in 1943 – as the facts checked out, the doctor did not begin his practice until after his graduation from medical school in 1954, did not start caring for Ms. Hutton until the 1960s and was only 14-years-old in 1943 – the year Heymann’s book asserted he began treating her.

I would say, after learning what he has fabricated in the book about Marilyn and Joe, if he was around, he might give interviewers the same reply.

For starters, as a journalist myself, I don’t believe the journalist of this article misinterpreted facts she received about this book for her story, and gleaned information instead from Heymann’s book to craft the story.

What are the facts and fiction that Heymann addresses in this book, that I can personally verify or counter? Here they are below:

Heymann statement: Frank Sinatra had Marilyn’s phone bugged in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Joe DiMaggio often sat in the lobby waiting for Marilyn, while sporting a beard and hiding behind The New York Times. Fact or Fiction? This is FICTION. Frank Sinatra never bugged Marilyn’s phones, nor did Joe DiMaggio ever stake out Marilyn in the Waldorf Astoria. It’s laughable to even suggest a serious man like Joe would, furthermore, hide in disguise. That was not at all his character. In fact, Joe would openly knock on Marilyn’s door when she resided there.

Heymann statement: Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio and five henchmen drove to an apartment complex to rough up Hal Schaefer, Marilyn’s vocal coach, who they suspected she had an affair with, and planned to barge in on them, hopefully in the act. They busted down a door to an apartment, which turned out to be an apartment of an older woman named Florence Katz, who they woke up and terrified. Katz won an out-of-court settlement for $7,500. Joe DiMaggio claimed he was never there. Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: The “Wrong Door Raid” as it was called, did occur and Florence Katz was awarded $7,500. However, there were not five henchmen…it was first Joe and a detective, then Frank and a detective (Marilyn also, did not have an affair with Hal Schaefer and was visiting a female friend who also lived in the same building – as the ruckus ensued with the busting down of Florence Katz’s door, Marilyn and her friend escaped). Joe DiMaggio was traveling out of the country when court hearings took place and was never questioned by a judge, though Frank Sinatra took to the stand and denied his own involvement.

Heymann statement: Marilyn and Joe met in 1952 on a double date. Fact or Fiction? FACT: They met on a blind date, actually, coordinated with David March, who is mentioned in the article (I would hope Mr. Heymann captured this detail in his book).

Heymann statement (or perhaps the article statement): Marilyn was born Norma Jeane Baker June 1, 1926. Fact or Fiction? FICTION: Marilyn was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on that date – Baker was the name of Marilyn’s mother’s first husband. “Baker” was listed as the occupation on her birth certificate of Marilyn’s legal father, Martin Edward Mortensen, which was an inaccuracy her mother documented, plus the different spelling of the last name. “Baker” was the father of her mother Gladys’s first two children, Marilyn’s half-siblings. Norma Jeane did use the name “Baker” when she was an older child and in school, it is the name noted in her high school yearbook for her photo.

Heymann statement: Marilyn did not know her father and Gladys was a paranoid schizophrenic who could not care for Marilyn. Marilyn ended up moved around, living with relatives and in orphanages. At 11, a foster father molested her. Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: Marilyn did not know her father…Gladys initially cared for Marilyn and did so quite well. As a single mother, she worked by day in the film industry while young Norma Jeane stayed with the Bolender family in Hawthorne, California. She paid monthly for her care, $25, and helped to supply clothing for Norma, as well as the costs of fabrics, for which Ida Bolender, the wife of the family she stayed with, fashioned her clothing. When Gladys suffered an emotional breakdown, it was not due to schizophrenia…she broke down after she had cared for her own ill mother, from the expenses of owning her own home, after the death of her grandfather and son from her first marriage, as well as other stresses. She was treated with psychiatric medications and suffered an adverse effect. Instead of discontinuing the drugs, doctors upped the dose and Gladys’s condition worsened. Eventually, Gladys received electroshock treatments. She suffered psychiatric issues as a result of the problems with the care she received, when she was fighting something that was not as complex an issue and she could have easily overcome with the right care…a bout of depression. Norma Jeane lived with good friends of her mother’s as well as relatives, and stayed in one orphanage for approximately nine months, while the guardianship of her mother’s friend Grace Goddard, was being approved by the court. It is often said Doc Goddard, Grace’s husband, molested Norma and that is an inaccuracy.

Heymann statement: Joe DiMaggio was the eighth of nine children, born to an Italian family in San Francisco. During his first marriage to actress Dorothy Arnold, Joe drank, chain-smoked and was a cheater. Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: Joe was born near San Francisco and was one of nine children, as correctly stated. Joe was an ardent smoker, not a heavy drinker and was never a cheater during their marriage. In fact, he pursued Dorothy, who was the one who threatened divorce several times before filing.

Heymann statement: After Joe Jr. was born, he rarely paid attention to him and checked into hotels when he was sick. Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: Joe was not doting on Joe Jr., however he did love his son. His biography was dedicated to Joe Jr. He was thrilled when the baby was born and did not leave when he was ill.

Heymann statement: Dorothy filed for divorce based on because of Joe’s indifference. Fact or Fiction? FACT: Joe was often distant towards her emotionally, and in his marriage to Marilyn, could be as well.

Heymann statement: There were some statements by Joe’s friend Robert Solotaire about Marilyn that Joe loved her, though he wanted her to tone down her wardrobe and give up her career to become a housewife. Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: The fiction is the name of the friend…it was George Solotaire, not Robert (Joe had no friend named Robert Solotaire). He did desire that Marilyn dress more conservatively and also give up her career for wifehood and motherhood.

Heymann statement: Joe worked to tone down his possessiveness and Marilyn looked to Joe for guidance and his protective instinct. He also rubbed in a statement about Marilyn enjoying her sexual relationship with Joe and that she had “sucked her last c—k.” Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: Joe did attempt to keep himself down in the jealousy department, though with difficulty during their courtship and marriage. Marilyn did look to Joe for his guidance, especially in her finances, and he often found her exploited by her employers. Marilyn never made such a derogatory statement about her relationship with Joe…though this has often been repeated. It was a relationship grounded in true love, not sex.

Heymann statement: Joe beat Marilyn and young Joe Jr. witnessed this. Joe spent time smoking, drinking and watching television, while she worked. He would harass her after work about who she was with. He scratched her face and ripped an earring from Marilyn’s ear. Joe apparently told Hal Schaefer to come over when he became suspicious of a relationship between he and Marilyn. Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: Joe did give Marilyn a hard time about who she frequented her time with and was extraordinarily jealous. Though it has been stated he hit her, Neither Dorothy nor Marilyn cited that Joe hit them…nor did Joey for that matter. They all countered he was mentally cruel. He never approached Hal Schaefer about an affair or threatened him. Hal had visited the home once and felt Joe intimidated him. Joe never scratched Marilyn, nor did he ever tear an earring out of her ear. In fact, Marilyn never wore pierced earrings. Joe asserted to his confidante and attorney, Morris Engelberg, in fact, that he never hit Marilyn. The only time he touched her was when he found that she had overdid it on drugs or alcohol, as she was drinking heavily and started increasing her sleeping pill usage during their marriage, and started tapping on her face to rouse her.

Heymann statement: Joe had a sex-doll he referred to as “Marilyn the Magnificent,” and he later showed it to a stewardess he was dating. Fact or Fiction? FICTION: Joe DiMaggio never owned a blow-up doll, especially of Marilyn. He loved and respected Marilyn and in fact, Marilyn and Joe remained friendly and spent time together after their divorce, for close to a year, until her involvement with Arthur Miller deepened. Plus, Joe never dated a flight attendant, and if he did, he had class and would never be crass enough to do anything as disrespectful to Marilyn as purchase a blow-up doll and then show it off to a girlfriend…silly…(he rarely dated following his relationship with Marilyn…and when he did, it was with beauty queens and models).

Heymann statement: Joe went to therapy and loaned Marilyn money. He also rescued Marilyn when she was wrongly incarcerated in the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Institute. Joe threatened to tear the hospital down brick by brick until they released her. Then he checked her in to Columbia-Presbyterian for care. Fact or Fiction FACT: Amen!

Heymann statement: Joe and Marilyn both hoped they would remarry, and was upset as she continued on with drugs and her relationships with the Kennedys. Marilyn, he alleged, told a friend just before she died that if she didn’t have Joe in her life, she would have committed suicide years prior. Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: Joe and Marilyn not just hoped for a remarriage — they planned it. It was scheduled on August 8, 1962, the day she was laid to rest. She never had affairs with the Kennedy brothers, details I lay out in my book countering the affairs. Marilyn never confessed to anyone that without Joe she would have committed suicide.

Heymann statement: Joe believed Marilyn committed suicide. Fact or Fiction? FICTION: Joe never stated in any case. He always said that “Hollywood killed her,” and he also blamed the Kennedys. He banned almost all of Hollywood from her funeral, including Frank Sinatra and Kennedy brother-in-law, Peter Lawford.

Heymann statement: When Marilyn died, Joe was her only family and he flew from New York to Los Angeles, with the flight held specifically for him. He organized her small funeral. Fact or Fiction? FICTION: There ware some elements of fact in this statement, but it’s very skewed. Joe was not Marilyn’s only family – her half-sister, Berniece Miracle, was also involved in funeral preparations and planned it. Joe was not in New York at the time, but at an Old Timer’s game on the same coast.

Heymann Statement: Joe never returned to Marilyn’s grave. Fact or Fiction? FICTION: In fact, Joe returned to her grave several days after her burial and cemetery employees permitted Joe some moments alone with her. Other friends of Joe also accompanied him several times to Marilyn’s grave, where he would visit under clandestine conditions – typically late at night, or would view from the comfort of his vehicle and send friends out to view the area.

Heymann Statement: Before Marilyn died, she requested that if she was to predecease Joe, if he could have flowers delivered to her grave as Clark Gable did for Jean Harlow. Joe did so for Marilyn until his death in 1999. Fact or Fiction? FACT AND FICTION: Marilyn did make such a request to Joe, however, it was not Clark Gable who did this for Jean Harlow, it was William Powell. Also, Joe discontinued flower delivery in 1982, after the twentieth anniversary of her passing, not in 1999.

Heymann Statement: When Joe died, his final words were: “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn again.” Fact or Fiction? FACT: A confirmed fact of a true love that continued beyond the bounds of time.

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