Report: DiMaggio's Final Words

ByABC News

N E W   Y O R K, Aug. 9, 2000 -- Joe DiMaggio died with Marilyn Monroe’s name on

his lips, according to the Hall of Famer’s lawyer and confidant.

“I’ll finally get to see Marilyn,” DiMaggio whispered.

Morris Engelberg, who was at the Yankee outfielder’s bedsidewhen he died, recalled DiMaggio’s last words in a story in VanityFair magazine.

It was not the first time DiMaggio had said that, Engelberg saidTuesday from his office in Hollywood, Fla.

“We were sitting together in the patio one night, talking abouthis illness, and he said, ‘I don’t feel bad about dying. At least,I’ll be with Marilyn again.’”

Blasts Report

Engelberg scoffed at a New York Daily News report quoting a hospiceworker who said DiMaggio had no last words when he died of lungcancer at 84 in March 1999.

“Of course, there were, and that’s what Joe told me,”Engelberg said.

He said DiMaggio never stopped loving Monroe even after theirnine-month marriage in 1954 ended in divorce. In Engelberg’s view,the actress may have been the only person DiMaggio really loved.

The list of people DiMaggio hated, according to the Vanity Fairstory, included Frank Sinatra, Presidents Kennedy and Clinton andRobert Kennedy.

The article, featured in the September issue of Vanity Fair, wasbased on a series of interviews with Engelberg.

Portrayed as a Loner

DiMaggio is pictured as a brooding, parsimonious loner who heldgrudges and demanded strict adherence to rules.

“Never mention Monroe, Sinatra or the Kennedys,” was one ofthe rules.

DiMaggio blamed Monroe’s drug and alcohol addiction, and herdeath from an apparent overdose, on Sinatra and the Kennedybrothers, Engelberg said.

DiMaggio believed Sinatra introduced Monroe to the Kennedys inreturn for possible political favors, and he despised John andRobert Kennedy to the point that he saw something deserved in theirassassinations, according to the article.

Clinton was another president on DiMaggio’s enemies list,Engelberg said. The baseball great detested the president foreverything from Whitewater to his affair with Monica Lewinsky, themagazine reported.

Refused to Shake Clinton’s Hand

DiMaggio declined to shake Clinton’s hand when the two were atCamden Yards in Baltimore in 1995 to see Cal Ripken break LouGehrig’s streak of consecutive games. And when Clinton called thehospital during DiMaggio’s fatal illness, the call was not putthrough.

Engelberg said one reason he granted the interview to VanityFair was to dispel stories that he made money from the deals hearranged for DiMaggio.

“I opened my books to show that. I could have made millions,but I couldn’t charge him,” Engelberg said. “I wanted to be hisfriend.”

Another reason, Engelberg said, was to perpetuate DiMaggio’sname among a new generation of fans.

“I don’t want Joe to become another Lou Gehrig. None of today’skids knows who Lou Gehrig was,” Engelberg said. “I want JoeDiMaggio to become another Babe Ruth when it comes torecognition.”

Plans to Write Book

Engelberg said for the same reason he hopes to write a bookabout DiMaggio. He said he has taped material for about 350 pages.

“Believe me, it’s not to make money,” Engelberg said. “I willdonate about 25 percent to a charity, and taxes will grab more than40 percent. I want the book so my grandchildren can read it andlove Joe DiMaggio the way I do.”

DiMaggio’s net worth grew to about $15 million from the $200,000to $300,000 it had been 16 years earlier when Engelberg took overhis business affairs.

Yet, DiMaggio never could overcome the memory of growing up poorin San Francisco.

He stocked his refrigerator with doggie bags from restaurants,Engelberg told the magazine. The story also recounts that DiMaggioloved getting things free, whether it was an apartment withhundreds of thousands of dollars in furnishings or packs of cookieshe crammed into his pockets when in an airline lounge.

DiMaggio was reluctant to turn on the air conditioning or takethe Mercedes given him by the Yankees to a car wash. He did his ownvacuuming and laundry, and he liked getting beat when someone elsereached for the check.