Why Did Marilyn Monroe Divorce All 3 of Her Husbands?

In Marilyn Monroe‘s short-lived life, she had a total of three marriages. Forever the hopeless romantic, the Hollywood icon was always looking for someone to love and cherish her. Sadly though, all of her marriages ended in divorce.

So who were her husbands, and why did she decide to leave all three of them?

Marilyn Monroe’s first husband was a 21-year-old police officer named James Dougherty

Weeks after her 16th birthday, Monroe was wed off to a 21-year-old boy next door, named James Dougherty. Back then, the Hollywood legend was known as Norma Jean Baker, a brunette beauty without a home to call her own. What many don’t know is that she grew up in 11 foster homes throughout her youth. Tragically, according to Monroe, she endured sexual abuse at nearly every home.

James Dougherty and Norma Jean Baker
James Dougherty and Norma Jean Baker | Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The teenager felt trapped in a cycle of abuse and knew that there was only one way out: to get married.  

It was her estranged mother, Gladys Baker, who wed her daughter off to the boy next door.

Marilyn Monroe hated being a traditional housewife

Marilyn Monroe In Bridal Gown
Marilyn Monroe In Bridal Gown | Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

And while Monroe was happy to escape the abuse at the hands of her foster homes, she was dissatisfied with the humdrum fate that came with being a housewife.   

Monroe dreamed of the glitz and glam of Hollywood, quickly growing bored with her domestic duties. 

So when Dougherty went off to serve in the Marines, Monroe took up modeling gigs. In just a matter of weeks, she was on the cover of hundreds of magazines. And according to the autobiography titled Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, Dougherty was ok with her modeling job, so long as she quit when he got back from the Marines. 

But Monroe wasn’t ready to quit.

Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)
Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) | Bettmann/ Contributor/Getty Images

She fell in love with the spotlight and wasn’t ready to stifle her dreams of becoming a star. So she divorced Dougherty and moved to Hollywood.  

“I never knew Marilyn Monroe, and I don’t claim to have any insights to her to this day,” Dougherty told United Press International in 1990 (Via The LA Times). “I knew and loved Norma Jean.”  

Marilyn Monroe’s second husband was the famous baseball player, Joe DiMaggio

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
1954: Marilyn Monroe kisses baseball player Joe Dimaggio during their short marriage in 1954 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Monroe fell in love with DiMaggio after being set up with him on a blind date. In her memoir, she claims that the sports star was “different” from other men. Usually, her dates would spend all night bragging about their accomplishments while trying to woo her. But DiMaggio was the opposite. He was reticent and soft-spoken, traits that Monroe found endearing. 

The next day after their first date, DiMaggio sent Monroe a large bouquet of roses. Yet despite all the romantic gestures, their relationship would end up more toxic than sweet. Not only was DiMaggio allegedly physically abusive with Monroe, but he was also overly controlling with her career. He hated the fact that she was America’s sex symbol, and forced her to wear outfits that suppressed her sexuality. 

Joe DiMaggio wanted Marilyn Monroe to become a housewife

Picture dated 1954 showing actress Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
1954 showing actress Marilyn Monroe with her second husband American baseball player Joe DiMaggio | STF/AFP via Getty Images

DiMaggio’s ultimate goal was to get Monroe to quit her job and become a traditional housewife. Yet ultimately, his plan was delusional because Monroe was never going to give up the spotlight. 

“Joe misunderstood Monroe,” said a close friend, Robert ­Solotaire, according to The New York Post. “Like, here’s this young, beautiful woman on the verge of becoming one of the most successful and famous actresses in the world. And she’s going to give it all up to make lasagna for Joe and spend her days changing diapers?”

Marilyn Monroe’s third husband was the famous playwright Arthur Miller

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller After Marriage Ceremony
Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller After Marriage Ceremony | Bettmann/Corbis/Getty Images

And finally, we have Arthur Miller, who was Monroe’s third and final husband. She claimed at one point that “This is the first time I’ve been really in love.” Before the height of Monroe’s career, she and Miller were friends.

Additionally, he seemed to be one of the few men who saw her as more than just a sex symbol. Miller supported her ambitions to become a serious dramatic actor. 

Marilyn Monroe and her husband, Arthur Miller
Marilyn Monroe and her husband, Arthur Miller | Bettmann / Contributor

But years later, when they finally married, things became turbulent. Monroe had found notes written by her husband, which claimed he was often embarrassed by her. 

In Monroe’s autobiography, Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, she claims that the two of them only fell in love with “parts” of each other, but not the whole thing. 

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