In 1952, Marilyn's love life was also taking off. Marilyn had affairs with several people including baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and writer Bob Slatzer. The two competed for Marilyn's affections during the entire year and for a brief period Slatzer won Marilyn's affections.
On October 4, 1952, Marilyn and Bob spent the evening drinking champagne and talking before they decided to take a drive to Mexico's Rosarita Beach. According to Donald Wolfe, the two suddenly decided to get married after having drinks at the Foreign Club in Tijuana. Coincidentally, Bob and Marilyn ran into an old acquaintance named Kid Chissell who agreed to be a witness at their wedding.
The newly engaged couple found a lawyer who was willing to perform the ceremony. According to Chissell, Marilyn went to pray at a local Mexican church before the marriage ceremony began. When the couple arrived at the lawyer's office they filled out the necessary forms and were duly married.
But, Marilyn changed her mind and decided she really didn't want to be married to Bob Slatzer, so the two traveled back to Mexico and bribed the lawyer who married them to destroy the marriage certificate that had not yet been processed. The lawyer eventually agreed to destroy the only tangible evidence proving Marilyn and Bob were ever married. All in all, the marriage survived only three days.
In 1953, Marilyn returned back to work with her full vigor, winning acclaim and praise from critics for her accomplishments in Monkey Business with Cary Grant, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Jane Russell, and How to Marry a Millionaire with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall. In June of that year, she and co-star Jane Russell received the honor of embedding their prints on the walk of fame in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.
1954 ushered in a series of abrupt changes in Marilyn's life and not necessarily for the better. After failing to appear for the shooting of The Girl in the Pink Tights, a movie that she believed was an unsuitable vehicle for her career, Marilyn was suspended from the studio. But during that time movie making was not her main priority.
After courting Marilyn for almost a year, Yankees baseball legend Joe DiMaggio wanted to marry her. They were married less than two weeks after her suspension from the studio in San Francisco, California, on January 14, 1954. It was a simple wedding with very few people in attendance. Marilyn and Joe traveled to Japan for their honeymoon, where they remained for 10 days.
Almost immediately, the marriage showed signs of distress. Allegedly, Joe was fanatically jealous of Marilyn and not just of men but of women as well. In fact, many of Marilyn's friends found Joe to be highly irritated and angered over any signs of attention Marilyn received.
Near the end of the honeymoon in Japan, Marilyn accepted a request to go on tour to perform for troops stationed in Korea. With Joe's staunch disapproval she went ahead and entertained more than 13,000 soldiers at one army base alone. While on tour, Marilyn nursed a broken thumb supposedly a result of Joe's anger at her decision to perform for the troops. It would not be the last incidence of physical abuse.
The relationship from the beginning was often overshadowed with Joe's jealousy. According to an earlier interview, Marilyn stated that jealousy was, "like salt on steak, all you need is a little bit of it." She got more than she bargained for. Friends and colleagues of Marilyn said that Joe was overtly domineering, highly critical and violent to Marilyn throughout the entirety of the relationship. Regardless, they continued to claim that they still loved each other.
That same year, Marilyn and 20th Century Fox Studios settled their dispute and Marilyn was back at work, much to Joe's dismay. She signed a contract to star in the movies There's No Business Like Show Business and The Seven Year Itch, which contained the famous scene in which she stood on top of a sidewalk grate with her skirt blowing up. Apparently, Joe was enraged by the spectacle, and rumor has it that he beat her that evening in their hotel room for being an embarrassment to him.
Marilyn had enough and in October 1954 she announced that she and Joe were to divorce. The two appeared at a court for a divorce hearing on October 27. Marilyn claimed that she wanted a divorce on the grounds that Joe was mentally cruel to her. They had only been married for nine months. Although the divorce was ultimately granted, Joe refused to give up on a relationship with Marilyn.
Following the divorce, his obsessive jealously increased steadily. He could not imagine the idea of his former wife in the arms of anyone else. One night Joe's jealousy got the better him, which ultimately led to a situation that ended in scandal and a lawsuit.
In November 1954, Joe and his new friend, Frank Sinatra, were allegedly involved in the raid of Florence Kotz's home. While Kotz was sleeping, two men broke down her door and barged into her apartment taking photographs of her as she lay in bed screaming. Minutes later the men scrambled back out of the door, purportedly in a state of confusion.
Later it emerged that the men who broke into the apartment were Joe and Frank, who were looking to catch Marilyn with a lover in the apartment. However, the two had accidentally gone to the wrong place. At the time of the break-in, Marilyn was in another apartment in the same building having dinner with friends. The blundered escapade was nicknamed "The Wrong Door Raid" and Joe and Frank found themselves in court for illegal entry and destruction of private property.
Because of the darkness, the identities of the men were not certain and the case against them quickly faded. Joe and Frank denied their guilt and the case was eventually dropped. But Kotz sued the men anyway and received an out-of-court settlement for the trouble.
Marilyn realized for the first time the extent to which her ex-husband would go to get her back. She continued to maintain a friendship with him, even though they still harbored love for one another. She knew the relationship would never work. Marilyn also secretly had her eye on someone else.
From the end of 1954 to February 1956, Marilyn "disappeared" from the public eye in an effort to escape her chaotic life in California. She temporarily lived with some friends in Connecticut and then in an apartment in New York. It was her chance to reflect on her life and reinvent herself.
During her sabbatical and suspension from the studio, she and her friend Milton Greene decided to develop Marilyn Monroe Productions. The decision was reached when Marilyn refused to star in any more movies that stereotyped her in dumb-blonde roles. She wanted to take control of her own career and take on more profound and challenging roles.
While enjoying her self-imposed exile, the relationship between playwright Arthur Miller and Marilyn became intense and they married on June 29, 1956. Marilyn and Arthur spent the weeks following their marriage in England, but their happiness was short-lived. The two frequently quarreled and Miller at one point indicated that Marilyn was like his ex-wife whom he despised.
Although happiness often eluded Marilyn, fame never did. Marilyn reconciled with 20th Century Fox and over the next several years she starred in blockbuster hits such as Some Like it Hot and The Misfits. She also starred in several movies made by Marilyn Monroe Productions, including Bus Stop and The Prince and the Show Girl. In total, between 1956 and the end of 1960 she appeared in five movies.
In 1960, Marilyn's life began to take a turn for the worse. She suffered from a series of nervous breakdowns, several failed pregnancies and a collapsing marriage. Her world began to fall apart.
Marilyn's career also became problematic because she could mentally no longer handle the stresses that disrupted her life and happiness. She was notorious for arriving late or not showing up at all during the shooting of several films. As a result, Marilyn's professional reputation, like her marriage, began to deconstruct. Finally on November 11, 1960, she and Arthur announced that they were going to divorce. The marriage lasted only four and half years. Marilyn began a downward spiral following her divorce from Arthur.