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Few 20th century personalities achieved legitimate "American Royalty" status. Marilyn Monroe, however, was one who did. Lindbergh, the Kennedys, and perhaps one figure from sports also made the grade. Joe DiMaggio was revered like no other athlete in history. He was the crown prince, the son of an immigrant who not only made it big but did it with an unmatched style and grace. Babe Ruth was a larger-than-life myth, like Paul Bunyon or John Henry; Mickey Mantle was a country boy who won hearts by reflecting more of Ozark Ike than Prince Valiant; Muhammad Ali, while dominating, was too politically polarizing, and Michael Jordan was a comic book-like superhero with powers beyond those of mere mortals. But DiMaggio had a quiet majesty that embraced the nation's spirit and reciprocally evoked reverence. And Marilyn Monroe was the glamour queen of the ages. Shortly after leaving baseball, DiMaggio courted and married Marilyn—the most desirable woman in the world. Though short-lived, their storybook union was to endure in the minds of fans of both long after the divorce, her death and the daily roses DiMaggio arranged to have placed on her grave. The two idols apparently were genuinely in love, but could not manage to coexist. Monroe's death in 1962 ended rumors that the two American icons were about to reconcile. Joe never really recovered from the loss and never spoke of it until he died. This is a compelling and unique pair of signed artifacts from the time of these icons—a glorious duo, juxtaposing one piece from each life.
Marilyn Monroe: Among Hollywood historians, it’s generally agreed that 1953 marked Marilyn Monroe’s ascent to legend. A couple of years earlier, she’d inked a seven-year deal with 20th Century Fox, but her film stardom wasn’t realized until the 1953 unveiling of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” That mid-summer release, with its immediately ensuing box office acclaim, served as the momentum for her signing of the offered singing contract with RCA. It’s an onionskin four-pager (drafted under the corporation’s letterhead) that provides for a two-year deal commencing in late 1953. There’s no mention in the agreement about Monroe’s compensation except her cut of the resultant royalties, but we’d imagine that a “draw reservoir” was available to her. Through the term of the contract, she was obliged to record not fewer that “16 sides,” which we interpret to mean single tunes on two sides of a 45 or 78 r.p.m. glass (or vinyl?) disc. The text of the contract makes frequent reference to 20th Century Fox—to whom Marilyn owed her primary fealty, and to whom RCA respectfully deferred. Uniformly measuring about 8-1/2” x 11”, each of the four pages bears two punched holes at the top margins (for hardbound filing); each has two pieces of period-applied white tape at the upper margins, and all four pages show staple holes in the lower left and (especially) in the upper left corners. Throughout, the typed text is legible and perfectly executed (with no typos). At the text’s conclusion (page 4, naturally), the signatures of the principals appear: Emanuel Sacks (for RCA), Joseph Schenck (Executive Director of 20th Century Fox), and of course Marilyn Monroe. Under her light hand, the Monroe signature is about “9” while those of the corporate executives, Sacks and Schenck, are “9-10.” Marilyn Monroe was most certainly the bombshell of her era. But it must also be acknowledged that she was responsibly professional. She may not have had the singing voice of a warbling angel, but she was no embarrassment either. As far as we know, she faithfully fulfilled this contract—to include tunes from her two ensuing films, “River of No Return” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” She was a beauty, and she was talented, but her rise to stardom was due, in no small measure, to Joseph Schenck’s "infatuation." Included with this contract is an 8-1/4” x 11” page – with public relations photos on each side (EX/MT, with tape applications similar to those on the pages of the contract). LOA from PSA DNA.
Joe DiMaggio: In the immediate aftershocks of WWII, Sam Goldwyn Productions commissioned MacKinlay Kantor and Robert Sherwood to write the screenplay for a full-length feature titled, “The Best Years of Our Lives.” Though reinforced by an all-star cast, the film’s success was assured instead by its compelling storyline, and it shortly skyrocketed to international acclaim. "Best Years" was the story of three American war veterans and their struggle in returning to a peacetime civilian society. One of them, 2nd Class Petty Officer Homer Parrish (portrayed by Harold Russell), had been a football quarterback prior to the war, and he’d lost both hands in the fiery sinking of his ship. Several scenes in the movie were filmed in Homer’s childhood home where the bedroom walls were adorned with tributes to several sporting heroes. One of them was Joe DiMaggio, and to comply with legal protocol, Goldwyn’s President, James Mulvey, proffered this contract to the Clipper. Dated “April 30, 1946,” it’s a one-page TLS under Sam Goldwyn Productions letterhead, and it proceeds: “Dear Mr. DiMaggio: In our forthcoming photoplay now entitled ‘THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES’, one of the principal characters is a young United States Navy sailor who lost both his hands in the service. Some of the scenes are set in the interior of his home. The script describes this interior as follows: ‘On the walls are high school pennants, pictures of football, baseball and basketball teams and of Joe Louis, Joe DiMaggio, Leo Durocher, Bob Feller, Sammy Baugh, etc.’ We would sincerely appreciate your permission to use a picture of you in our photoplay in the manner set out above or in substantially the same manner, this permission being requested not only for our benefit but also for the benefit of our successors, assigns and all persons, firms, or corporations claiming through us who will own, distribute and/or exhibit said photoplay. Accordingly, if such usage meets with your approval, please sign your name in the space herein below provided and on the attached copies and return the same to us. Very truly yours…[signed] James A. Mulvey.” (“9-10”) The first line of DiMaggio’s typed response appears at the bottom of this letter-request, and concludes on the consenting-signature page provided by the studio. Effectively, Joe replied: “I hereby grant you permission to use my picture in your photoplay now entitled ‘THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES’ in the manner and for the purpose above described. This permission is granted to you, your successors and assigns, for your benefit and for the benefit of your successors, assigns and all persons, firms or corporations claiming through you who will own, distribute and/or exhibit said photoplay. Dated: May_____, 1946 [signed] Joseph DiMaggio.” The two 8-1/2” x 11” pages are stapled together in the upper left corner and, naturally, they are neatly compact-folded. The typed text of both the request and DiMaggio’s response (all of which was likely typed in a law office representing the studio) is faultless—no typos or lapses in grammar. The DiMaggio signature is about “8” in quality…it’s clean and distinct, but minorly imperfect in flow of the pen’s ink. The import of this contract is exceptional in several regards. Having himself just returned from military service, Joe could hardly deny this uncompensated request. The movie most certainly enriched Sam Goldwyn Productions…but in spirit, it was a public service message, one that was intended to salve the wounds of a nation agonizing in its readjustment to a world at peace. Further, the reader will not fail to note that this DiMaggio writing isn’t an autograph; it’s a legally authorizing signature, penned very unfamiliarly as “Joseph DiMaggio.” But perhaps most profoundly, this signed instrument goes straight to the core of the most warmly received motion picture since 1939’s "Gone With The Wind." It earned seven Academy Awards in 1946—to include one for Best Supporting Actor (Harold Russell as Homer Parrish). Russell’s performing credentials, by the way, were not isolated to "Best Years." He did lose both hands from a wartime accident, but he was also educated for the stage, and he conducted a commendable career thereon. LOA from PSA DNA.