Marilyn, Joe and Eternity…

Eternity (e·ter·ni·ty)

  1. Endless or infinite time.
  2. The quality, state, or condition of being eternal.
  3. Any of the aspects of life and thought that are considered to be timeless, esp timeless and true.
  4. The condition of timeless existence, believed by some to characterize the afterlife.
Joe and Marilyn on their wedding day, January 14, 1954.

On January 14, 1954, Joe DiMaggio, the greatest baseball star of all time married Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood’s reigning moviestar sex goddess. They were the most famous couple in the world. After a rather tumultuous courtship, the two decided to marry in San Francisco while spending the holidays with Joe’s family.  They’d considered tying the knot for some time, and had made the decision just a few days earlier to get married on January 14.  The wedding took place at City Hall, and the ceremony was presided over by Municipal Judge Charles S. Peery.  By some estimates, hundreds of reporters gathered at City Hall to report on the nuptials.  

Joe and Marilyn on their wedding day, and Municipal Judge Charles S. Peery.

At some point Joe presented Marilyn with a diamond eternity band, platinum, set with 35 baguette cut diamonds. The ring was part of the 1999 Christie’s auction, “The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe,” with the catalog providing the following lot description:


A platinum band, set with thirty-five baguette-cut diamonds (one diamond missing), given to Marilyn Monroe by Joe DiMaggio after their 1954 wedding.

Estimate: $30,000-50,000

The ring sold at the auction for an incredible $772,500.00, second in price only to the Jean Luis designed dress Marilyn wore as she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy on May 19, 1962, which sold for $1,267,500.

Marilyn wears the platinum eternity band given to her by Joe DiMaggio.  Photo by Milton Greene.

The significance of this diamond eternity band cannot be overstated.  It’s safe to assume it was selected by Joe and given to Marilyn as a hopeful symbol of an enduring relationship, promising a life eternal that Marilyn was likely longing for, that of love, companionship, partnership and eventually (hopefully) motherhood.

One must wonder though what may have happened to the other diamond ring that Joe gave to Marilyn. While it is clear that this eternity band was given by Joe to Marilyn (she received a simple gold wedding band from Arthur Miller), what became of the ring that was placed on Marilyn’s finger on her wedding day, shown in photos of Marilyn at City Hall, and also in Korea while on their honeymoon?

Joe and Marilyn on their wedding day, January 14, 1954.
Marilyn with servicemen in Korea, February 19, 1954.
Marilyn with servicemen in Korea.
Marilyn and Joe, photo by Kashio Aoki.

This other diamond ring has not yet appeared at auction.  Perhaps it was a family heirloom, loaned to Joe to use for the hastily planned wedding, ultimately returned to the DiMaggio family after the divorce.  Perhaps it still resides with the Strasberg family.  Like many other Marilyn Monroe mysteries, we’ll ll likely never know.

Sadly, the eternal joining of “Joltin’ Joe” and the “MMM Girl” was thwarted after a mere eight months and thirteen days, the marriage a victim of the husband unwilling to bend to the wife’s desire to be every woman; A wife as well as a moviestar.  On October 3, 1954, Marilyn made a tearful appearance at a press conference on the lawn of the North Palm Drive home she’d shared with Joe.  Her attorney announced the couple’s separation. 

Joe continued to be a major part of Marilyn’s life, often coming to her rescue, right up until the very end when he planned Marilyn’s funeral.  He spent the night before the funeral holding a private vigil over Marilyn’s body.  He had flowers delivered to Marilyn’s crypt for the next 20 years.  Many believe that Marilyn was planning to remarry Joe in 1962, and she’d commissioned Jean Luis to design yet another dress for her, one which she’d wear as she married DiMaggio a second time.  Joe forever maintained a respectful silence when it came to Marilyn, and it has never been confirmed if they had indeed planned to remarry.

It can’t go unnoticed that one diamond from the eternity band Joe gave to Marilyn at some point became disjointed, forever lost, ending the cycle of eternity and symbolizing their broken relationship.  Marilyn told Amy Greene, “I never should have married him.  I couldn’t be the Italian housewife he wanted me to be.”  She also said, “I never loved any guy more.”  After Marilyn died, an unfinished note to Joe was found in her address book, which read, “Dear Joe, If I can only succeed in making you happy, I will have succeeded in the biggest and most difficult thing there is – that is, to make one person completely happy.  Your happiness means my happiness, and…”

Joe DiMaggio never remarried.  He was eternally Marilyn’s.  

The eternity band will be auctioned again on December17, 2011, by Profiles in History.