Marilyn Monroe rose to fame in the 1950s as an actress, model, and singer. She also became one of the most popular sex symbols of the era and beyond. As such, much speculation has surrounded Monroe’s romantic life. Whether it was the glitz and glamour of the parties she attended, her high-profile partners, or just the intrigue of it all, people love finding out more and thinking they know what really happened.
Hollywood’s most famous ‘blonde bombshell’ also inspired a lot of rumors. One, published in the 1974 book, The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe, claimed that the author, Robert Slatzer, was married to Monroe in the early 1950s. This is the truth behind that claim.
Slatzer’s version of events
Robert Slatzer attended Ohio State University and began his writing career working as a newspaper journalist. In 1946, he relocated to Hollywood and began to write for movie studios, later becoming a screenwriter and director. His career spawned films such as The Hellcats (1968) and Bigfoot (1970).
It is around his first arrival in Hollywood that Slatzer’s story about Marilyn Monroe begins. According to him, he first met the young model named Norma Jeane Baker in 1946 in the lobby of Twentieth-Century Fox Studios.
This allegedly spurred a long relationship that led to the pair traveling to Mexico in secret to get married on October 4, 1952. Fearing that it would impact Monroe’s image, Darryl F. Zanuck, then-head of 20th Century Fox Studios, ordered that the marriage end. The story concludes with Slatzer and Monroe traveling back to Mexico and burning the marriage certificate after taking it from the Mexican authorities.
This story has never been proven, and the only person who persisted that it was true is Robert Slatzer.
In 1953, Monroe starred in the movie Niagara. The film-noir thriller emphasized Monroe’s sex appeal as the seductive Rose Loomis and resulted in her becoming a star. Niagara also served as the backdrop for the real meeting between Monroe and Robert Slatzer.
The only evidence of Monroe and Slatzer ever meeting are photos that they appeared in together during filming of the movie.
Problems with the story
In 1952, Marilyn Monroe met Joe DiMaggio, the All-Star baseball player who was center fielder for the New York Yankees. The two were married in January 1954. Their union would only last a year, and Monroe soon married Arthur Miller in 1956. It seems quite improbable that she would have squeezed in a secret marriage during this time.
Adding even more doubt to the story, a novelist named William Fowler was a ghostwriter for early drafts of Slatzer’s 1974 book, The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe. When it was used as the basis for a television movie in 1991, Fowler said that Slatzer’s tale was “filled with lies.” He withdrew from the book project once he realized that Slatzer’s assertions were total fabrications.
Fowler said in an interview that he had been approached by Slatzer to write an account of Monroe’s 1962 death. As he recalled, “I said in the beginning, ‘If you were married to Marilyn, you’d really have a book here.’ Then a few days later [Slatzer] came to me and said, ‘I didn’t want to say anything, but I was married to her, but it was only for a weekend.'” He added that Slatzer’s account “kept changing.”
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So why did Slatzer tell this story? We will never know for certain–money, or perhaps notoriety. Whatever the reason, the story of the marriage between Marilyn Monroe and Robert F. Slatzer has kept fans of the actress busy, with most remaining highly skeptical.