Norma Jean wasn’t in love with Jim Dougherty, a merchant seaman, when they first married and truthfully, the same can be said about him. They may have grown to care for each other but sexual chemistry (certainly for Marilyn) and romantic love were absent in this marriage. However marriage to Dougherty was preferable to returning to the orphanage and that determined Norma Jean’s status as Mrs. Dougherty. In fact, Dougherty recalled she was much like a child. They met through his mother and her foster-mother. James’ mother lived a distance away from Norma Jean. She would wake James after his late shift at work and ask him to drive Norma Jean and her foster-sister home and that was how they met. Once they married, Dougherty recalled Norma Jean’s childlike behaviour: his 16-year-old bride would go outside after dinner to play with the neighborhood children and he called her “when it was time to come in for the night.” I’ve never given it much thought but Dougherty is probably the man to whom Marilyn gave her virginity. Whatever that experience was like Marilyn never did say. Perhaps it wasn’t an especially significant event in her life. She may not have known what was happening, although certainly she would have been aware that she was once again being used sexually to please a man. It’s impossible to say whether she knew the difference in sex and love-making at 16.
Before Dougherty went overseas without his wife for 2 years, his involvement with another woman revealed the lack of stability in their odd marriage. Dougherty had a brief affair with a former girlfriend, a few years older than 17-year-old Marilyn who had been a beauty pageant winner.Big deal. Marilyn herself was 1947’s Miss California Artichoke Queen. She was also named “Miss Cheesecake” when she became a starlet and found herself stretched out on red velvet on a calendar. Dougherty, a plain-looking sailor, did well for himself with women.His betrayal amounted to yet another unstable family in Marilyn’s life. She knew about the affair and it devastated her. Marilyn mayor may not have been in love “Jimmie” but she was certainly loyal. One evening she waited alone on a beach for her husband to join her after work. She wrote in her diary about the feeling of her sweater on her lightly sunburned skin.She suspected he had gone to his mistress instead of sitting with her on the beautiful moonlit beach. She wrote very pragmatically, as if her analysis of the situation could ease the emotional pain of his absence. He never arrived. He spent the night with his ex-girlfriend instead. Marilyn wrote about her frustration and sense of betrayal. It was a touching, long entry, about 6 typed pages.
Initially Marilyn was a “hopeless housekeeper. She had no idea how to cook….[she] cooked carrots and peas together because she liked the color.” Although Dougherty could be jealous of the attention Marilyn received from other men he wasn’t worried about possible infidelity. He was absolutely certain that his wife would never stray in their marriage but years later Marilyn admitted that she did indeed sleep with other men while her husband was away out of sheer loneliness. She didn’t enjoy sex but she wanted to be held by a man, so she had sex for the company and the intimacy.
Although it was Marilyn who filed for divorce she wanted to continue living with Dougherty as man and wife. She needed the financial and emotional support but he refused. I guess I can’t blame him. She had to have her divorce because 20th Century Fox didn’t want pregnant actresses. That might have been a bit of a blow to his ego..
Decades after Marilyn’s death, Dougherty told a reporter “I wasn’t married to Marilyn Monroe. I never knew her. I was married to Norma Jean.” He described Norma Jean as sweet, kind and eager to please. He insisted he enjoyed their marriage yet he had no regrets about their divorce. He was happy for her success and he remarried another woman. They too divorced in 1972. This woman was intimidated that “Marilyn Monroe” had been married to her husband and Dougherty destroyed hundreds of letters from Marilyn during his marriage to assuage his second wife.He mused over his wife’s jealousy, stating she was the star because she gave him “three beautiful children.” He also mentioned the Marilyn letters would be worth a considerable amount of money today. True that.