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James Dougherty, Monroe's First Husband

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James Dougherty, Monroe's First Husband


James Dougherty, Monroe's First Husband

James Dougherty, Monroe's First Husband

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Marilyn Monroe's first husband, James Dougherty, a major influence on her career, has died at 84. Schani Krug, producer of the documentary Marilyn's Man, says Dougherty helped teach the teenage Norma Jean Baker how to become Marilyn.


You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

This past week, former Los Angeles Police Department Detective James Dougherty died in San Rafael, California at the age of 84. In 1942, when he was 21 years old, Dougherty married his neighbor, 16-year-old Norma Jean Baker. He joined the Merchant Marines, was sent to the South Pacific in 1944, returned to Los Angeles in 1946, and soon after he and Baker divorced. Dougherty married two more times. His second marriage ended in divorce and his third wife died in 2003. In 1946, Norma Jean Baker changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. Married twice more, first to baseball great Joe DiMaggio and later to playwright Arthur Miller, Monroe became a movie star and an icon of post-war America. She died in 1962. Schani Krug produced a documentary about James Dougherty called "Marilyn's Man." Schani Krug joins us from his home in York, Maine.

Good morning. Thanks a lot for your time.

Mr. SCHANI KRUG (Producer, "Marilyn's Man"): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: Hi. You're quoted in The New York Times as saying that James Dougherty was everything Marilyn Monroe never had in he life. What do you mean by that?

Mr. KRUG: When he discovered Marilyn at the age of 15, she was rough around the edges. She was pretty much a tomboy. They met at Van Nuys High School in California. And Jim really feminized her, took her everywhere with him and showed her the world. He was a bon vivant, great sense of humor, and he brought that out in her, really refined her, even kind of showed her how to walk and be sexy. That was kind of Jim's way of showing her how to be a sexy woman.

HANSEN: What was his life like after they split?

Mr. KRUG: He had a very full life. He remarried, had three beautiful girls, became a huge legend in the LAPD. He invented the SWAT team, by the way, and he broke some famous cases, one of which was a plot to kidnap James Garner. He broke that case.

HANSEN: He wrote a book, "To Norma Jeane With Love." What did he say about her?

Mr. KRUG: Between the lines, the subtext basically said that he was deeply in love with her and he was really brokenhearted that she was seduced by the powers that be in Tinseltown, and he only wished that he could have had a great full life with her and grown old together because she was such an Olympian soul, a very special human being.

HANSEN: In the last years of his life, he led a quiet one in Maine?

Mr. KRUG: Yes. He married Rita, his third wife, and they retired in Maine. And Rita reminded him so much of Norma Jean and it was almost a parallel life experience being with Rita.

HANSEN: Schani Krug wrote, produced and directed the documentary "Marilyn's Man." He spoke with us from his home in York, Maine.

Thank you, Mr. Krug.

Mr. KRUG: Thank you. It was nice talking to you.

HANSEN: James Dougherty died this past week in San Rafael, California. He was 84. Dougherty was the first husband of Norma Jean Baker, the woman who became Marilyn Monroe.

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