Exactly How Many Husbands Did Marilyn Monroe Have?

Marilyn Monroe had a string of lovers throughout her lifetime. She had romantic relationships with some of Hollywood’s most influential names, including Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. But exactly how many men did Monroe marry in her short-lived life? 

The Hollywood legend had a total of three husbands in her 36 years on earth. Let’s take a look at the men who were lucky enough to marry Monroe.

American actress Marilyn Monroe
American actress Marilyn Monroe | Robert W. Kelley/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Norma Jean Barker and her first husband, James Dougherty

Monroe’s first husband was named James Dougherty. She married him weeks after her 16th birthday, back when she was known by the name of Norma Jean Baker. Before finding stardom, she was pressured into marrying Dougherty to escape her abusive foster home. (Monroe lived in a total of 11 foster homes throughout her childhood.)

Jim Dougherty and Norma Jeane Baker on their wedding day in June of 1942.
Jim Dougherty and Norma Jeane Baker on their wedding day in June of 1942 | Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

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Dougherty was a 21-year-old police officer at the time. And according to Monroe’s biography, The Private Life of A Public Icon, he was hesitant at first about wedding her. He felt as though Monroe was “just a baby” and that she wasn’t ready for marriage. Yet after going on a couple of dates, they decided to tie the knot. 

At first, things were great for the newly-weds. Yet when Dougherty went off to serve in the Marines, Monroe took up a modeling job. Soon, she was on the cover of hundreds of magazines. After getting a taste of stardom, Monroe decided to divorce her husband to move to Hollywood and become the next big starlet. 

Marilyn Monroe and her second husband, Joe DiMaggio

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
Joe Dimaggio and Marilyn Monroe | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Monroe’s second husband was a former baseball star who played for the New York Yankees. At first, the two were inseparable. DiMaggio would send her roses and call her multiple times throughout the day just to check up on her. 

But as time went on, their marriage became tumultuous. DiMaggio had a temper, and he’d often take his anger out on Monroe. He’d get jealous of the fact that she was more famous than he was, and he hated her sex symbol status.

And according to multiple sources, many speculate that Monroe’s flying white dress scene from The Seven Year Itch led to their divorce.

Marilyn Monroe on Subway Grate
Actress Marilyn Monroe tries to hold down her dress as wind from a subway grate blows it upward during filming of The Seven Year Itch | Bettmann / Contributor

In the iconic scene, the skirt of her dress goes flying up from the breeze. The shot quickly reveals her underwear, which was enough to infuriate her husband. According to multiple sources, that scene was “the last straw.” 

Marilyn Monroe with her third husband, Arthur Miller

Marilyn Monroe With Her Husband Arthur Miller
Marilyn Monroe With Her Husband Arthur Miller | Mondadori Portfolio/ Contributor

Monroe’s third and final husband was the playwright Arthur Miller. (Miller is most known for A Death of A Salesman and After The Fall.)

Many consider Monroe and Miller to be one of the most unlikely couples in Hollywood history. The public couldn’t believe that Hollywood’s most famous sex symbol was married to the rigid playwright.

But alas, they fell in love. 

Yet, according to Monroe’s biography, she stumbled upon a letter he allegedly intended her to find, which claimed he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” to be married to her. This, along with several other dilemmas, ultimately led to their divorce.