James Dougherty

JAMES Dougherty, the retired Los Angeles detective who married the future Marilyn Monroe for four years in the 1940s, has died in San Rafael, California. He was 84.

Before going to sea as a merchant mariner, Dougherty married Norma Jeane Baker on 19 June, 1942 – only a few months after having met and just 18 days after his bride’s 16th birthday. A wedding photograph of the beaming couple taken in front of a fireplace shows Dougherty in a white tuxedo and his fresh-faced, brunette wife in a white wedding gown and veil and holding a large bouquet of flowers.

"We decided to get married to prevent her from going back to a foster home,” Dougherty later said, “but we were in love.”

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Baker set out to pursue an acting career while Dougherty was gone, and Hollywood soon beckoned. Her marriage to her absent husband crumbled as her career ambitions rose, and she sought a quickie divorce in Las Vegas; the marriage was officially over in September, 1946.

“I was on a ship in the Yangtze River getting ready to go into Shanghai when I was served with divorce papers,” Dougherty said in a 2002 interview.

Baker, as Marilyn Monroe, married the baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and then the playwright Arthur Miller. She died, allegedly of an overdose of pills, in 1962. Dougherty was to remarry twice.

Dougherty worked for the Los Angeles police department for 25 years, serving as a detective and training the department’s first special weapons and tactics group. After his retirement in 1974, he moved to Arizona and later to Maine, living in the small town of Sabattus.

He refused for years to talk about his time with Monroe, but after his second divorce he was more comfortable with the subject. In 1997, he wrote a book, To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie. He said he followed Monroe’s career until her death in 1962. She was a movie star, while the woman he married was a small-town girl, he said.

“I love her, but I’m not in love with her,” he said in a 1997 interview. “There’s a lot of difference between loving someone and being in love.”

In 1995, he showed up at the Skowhegan, Maine, post office for a party celebrating a new stamp bearing Marilyn Monroe’s picture. He autographed books of stamps as his current wife looked on from a nearby seat.

“It seemed like a nice, positive programme, so I said I’d come out,” he said. He recalled that his 16-year-old bride’s “plans then were to be a homemaker”.

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Schani Krug, who wrote, produced and directed a documentary, Marilyn’s Man, about Dougherty, said: “His years with Marilyn Monroe, that was just a small part of his life. He was everything she never had.”

Dougherty’s third wife, Rita, died in 2003.

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