Joseph Paolo "Joe" DiMaggio (1914 - 1999) MP

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Birthplace: Martinez, Contra Costa, California, United States
Death: Died in Broward, Florida, United States
Cause of death: lung cancer
Managed by: Colleen Rose Keenan
Last Updated:

About Joseph Paolo "Joe" DiMaggio

"I'd like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee."

from: Joe DiMaggio (1914 - 1999) by Kevin Fitzpatrick

In American pop culture, there is one 20th Century icon who stands above all others for crossing over from professional sports to page-one celebrity: Joe DiMaggio. Here are three reasons:

  1. Hall of Fame baseball player who holds records that won't ever be broken.
  2. Short, stormy marriage to sex bomb Marilyn Monroe.
  3. Cult of personality that grew with the 1968 Simon and Garfunkel song Mrs. Robinson, and as pitchman for coffee machines and savings banks.

Born Joseph Paul DiMaggio in Martinez, Calif., on Nov. 25, 1914, he was the son of a Sicilian immigrant fisherman, the eighth of ninth children, and the second of three brothers who would play in the major leagues. All three started for the local San Francisco Seals. His poor roots were immortalized in Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea:

I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing," the Hemingway character Santiago says. "maybe he was as poor as we are and would understand."

Joltin' Joe only played 13 years in the big leagues -- injuries and service in Word War II as an army sergeant cut his career short -- but he left an indelible mark. He compiled a .325 batting average and slammed 361 home runs. After the 1951 World Series, he retired due to injuries. "I'm not Joe DiMaggio anymore," he lamented.

His personal life was always a mess. The slugger's first marriage was in November 1939, to a pretty blonde actress named Dorothy Arnold. They were married in St. Peter and Paul Church in North Beach (60 years later, the same church where his funeral would be held). 30,000 people jammed the streets outside. ... She divorced him in 1944 and moved to Reno, taking their 13-month old son. (Joe DiMaggio Jr. died in 1999.) But it would be his second marriage that people will always remember.

Marriage to the biggest movie star of the era turned his life upside down. As the New York Post wrote, "it was a great love story, but a lousy marriage." They dated for about a year, before marrying in San Francisco on Jan. 14, 1954. He was 40, and she was 12 years his junior. Many think the union was doomed from the start: Monroe's career was taking off like a rocket, while the private DiMaggio hid from the limelight. News of their divorce after 274 days was hardly a shock.

Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller two years later, but DiMaggio never remarried. After her death on Aug. 5, 1962, he made sure fresh roses were always at her grave. He was offered huge sums to write a book about their marriage, but he never granted a single interview about Monroe. About the only quote he ever gave was to boxing writer Bert Sugar, who had the nerve to ask the Yankee Clipper what it was like to be with Monroe. "Better than rooming with Joe Page," was his reply.

from DiMaggio’s Death and Will

Upon learning of DiMaggio’s death on March 8, 1999, Tommy Lasorda, the great Dodgers’ manager, said:

"If you said to God, ‘Create someone who was what a baseball player should be,’ God would have created Joe DiMaggio. And He did."


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Joe DiMaggio's Timeline

1914
November 25, 1914
Contra Costa, California, United States
1941
October 23, 1941
Age 26
New York, New York, United States
1954
January 14, 1954
Age 39
October 27, 1954
Age 39
1999
March 8, 1999
Age 84
Broward, Florida, United States
March 11, 1999
Age 84
San Mateo, California, United States
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