'Blonde': How did James Dougherty die? Marilyn Monroe's first husband felt she wasn't 'tough enough' for Hollywood
The couple married in 1942 and after four years of marriage, Monroe decided to called it quits because she wanted to be an actress
Netflix is set to take viewers back to the golden age of Hollywood and tell the exhilarating story about one of the most iconic faces of the entertainment industry, Marilyn Monroe. Titled ‘Blonde’, the movie chronicles the journey of one of Hollywood’s biggest icons and shows how she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s. We all know how she struggled with addiction and mood disorders throughout her life.
Based on the bestselling novel written by Joyce Carol Oates, Ana de Armas will be seen playing the role of the legendary star. When we talk about Monroe’s life, then troubled relationships were one of the biggest reasons for most of the problems she had in her life.
Monroe was married three times in her life and her first marriage occurred in 1942 to a police officer named James Dougherty. However, their marriage didn’t work out well and it ended soon. So, what happened? Why did their marriage end so quickly? Let’s take a look at who her husband was and how did he die.
Who was James Dougherty and how did he meet Marilyn Monroe?
Born on April 12, 1921, Dougherty was the fifth and final child of Edward and Ethel Dougherty. After his graduation, he turned down an athletic scholarship and started working at Lockheed Aircraft. At this point, Norma Jeane (real name of Marilyn Monroe) was going through a tough time in her life because her mother had psychiatric issues and Norma was in and out of foster care and orphanages in California. Eventually, she would end up living with her mother’s friend Grace Goddard and she was soon going to relocate to West Virginia.
Dougherty’s family was living across the Goddards. At this point in time, Grace believed that she needs to do something for Norma and introduced her to James Dougherty. The duo went on to have great chemistry and started dating in 1942. At that time, Dougherty was 20 and Jeane was just 15 years old. After dating each other for a few months, Dougherty and Jeane married each other on June 19, 1942, just 18 days after Jeane’s 16th birthday.
In an interview with United Press International (via Los Angeles Times), Dougherty revealed that when he saw her for the first time she was “awful young” and took her to dance. He added, “She was a pretty mature girl and physically she was mature, of course. We talked and we got on pretty well.” While talking about his marriage, he noted that they decided to get married so that Jeane wouldn’t go to West Virginia, but he later admitted that they both were “in love” with each other.
In the initial years of marriage, the couple went on to live in a studio apartment in Sherman Oaks.
However, it all started to go downhill when Dougherty was stationed in the Pacific shortly after their marriage. As soon as he went away, Jeane began searching for a job and got one in a radioplane factory making parts for the war effort. She met a photographer named David Conover there and began doing modeling jobs for him. Jeane became really famous and soon, she signed with the Blue Book Model Agency and began working as a model. She got really successful in her first stint as a model and even went on to attend a screen test for 20th Century Fox. Even though she didn’t have acting experience, the production house signed a contract with her. However, there was a catch. They made it clear that they wouldn’t sign her in a project if she was married.
This was the beginning of the end of them because Jeane wanted to do something big in her life and although Dougherty tried explaining how much he loved her, Jeane was stern that she wants to be an actress. Eventually, in 1946, she asked Dougherty to end their marriage so she can follow her dream and become an actress.
After being married for just four years, the couple divorced, and Norma Jeane took the name of Marilyn Monroe. Several reports indicate that he followed her acting career, but never tried meeting her. However, her death made him feel really sad, and he tried avoiding reporters when the news was announced. In 2002, he gave an interview to Associated Press (via Los Angeles Times) and said that fame was “injurious” to her and was “too gentle” to be an actress. He added, “She was too gentle to be an actress. She wasn’t tough enough for Hollywood. And once someone starts getting into pills -- uppers and downers, the way she was -- people can go downhill."
How did he die?
After his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, he spent most of his life out of public spotlight and married twice. He died on August 15, 2005, from Leukemia.
'Blonde' will premiere exclusively on Netflix on Wednesday, September 28.