DiMaggio's and Monroe's Keepsakes Auctioned

ByABC News via logo

March 31, 2006— -- Joltin' Joe DiMaggio was one of the all-time baseball greats, and his celebrity transcended sports; he became a pop culture icon, who was immortalized in the Simon and Garfunkle song "Mrs. Robinson."

DiMaggio was an intensely private man, but now, seven years after his death, an auction provides a look into the secret world that he shared with one-time wife and another American icon, Marilyn Monroe.

"The entire collection originates from Joe DiMaggio's personal collection, which was inherited by his granddaughters," said David Hunt, president of Hunt Auction Inc., which will be holdng the sale May 19-20 in New York.

The granddaughters will receive the proceeds, and a portion will go to the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Florida, he said.

This collection is different from that of other baseball greats because it also contains items from Monroe. Hunt said there is no telling how much money it will earn.

"It's certainly millions, plural," he said. "The unique thing about an auction at this level is that you really, really don't know. ... You could easily have an auction like this go for 2.4 million or go for 9 million."

The action includes personal memorabilia from DiMaggio's brilliant career in baseball, such as the uniform he wore in his last game at Yankee Stadium in 1951.

Many of the items are keepsakes he shared with Marilyn Monroe, whom he married in 1954. The union of the Hollywood starlet and the baseball legend captivated imaginations around the world, but it lasted only about 10 months.

A reputed gentleman, DiMaggio never kissed and told, but some of the items on the auction block reveal unprecedented glimpses into a relationship and friendship that lasted until Monroe died in 1962.

Among the items is their marriage license dated Jan. 14, 1954, which certified that Norma Jeanne Dougherty -- her real name -- and Joseph DiMaggio were legally wed.

DiMaggio also kept Monroe's passport. Inside it says "Norma Jeanne DiMaggio, also known as Marilyn Monroe." She signed her photo with her married name on top and her screen name down the side.

DiMaggio also kept a photo of Monroe in his San Francisco home, which she signed "I love you Joe, Marilyn."

Inside DiMaggio's wallet was a letter from Monroe that he kept. It reads in part: "Dear Joe, I know I was wrong. I acted the way I did and said the things I did because I was hurt, not because I meant them, and it was stupid." She signed the letter "Fondly, your wife, for life, Mrs. J.P. DiMaggio."

The couple divorced in 1954, but a telegram that Monroe sent to DiMaggio on Sept. 22, 1961, may hint that there could have been a reconciliation. After being on a plane that experienced trouble and turned back to Los Angeles, she wrote: "When the plane was in trouble I thought about two things, you and changing my will. Love you, I think, more than ever."

"Joe was such an intensely private person his entire life and his career. Many of the things that we are found were positive," Hunt said. Among them were letters from children and parents who wrote to thank him for the help they received at the hospital. They also found proof "that Marilyn and he really did love each other ... this was not just a Hollywood sham marriage"

The auction also includes a diary that DiMaggio kept around 1955. Hunt called the entry that contains some guidelines DiMaggio made for a reconciliation with Monroe a very special piece. Here is part of his list:

The auction also offers a love letter from Monroe, a photo album that was presented to the couple after their famous goodwill tour of Japan, a film of DiMaggio with his son and a film of DiMaggio with another famous Yankee, Lou Gherig.

For more information on the auction, visit www.huntauctions.com.

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