Marilyn Monroe's first husband dead at 84

Aug. 18, 2005 at 10:16 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Marilyn Monroe's first husband, retired Los Angeles Police detective James Dougherty, has died in San Rafael, Calif., at age 84.

Dougherty died Monday of complications of leukemia, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Dougherty married the teenage Norma Jean Baker in 1942, four years before the sexy Marilyn Monroe was even on the canvas.

"I never knew Marilyn Monroe, and I don't claim to have any insights to her to this day," he told United Press International in 1990. "I knew and loved Norma Jean."

Dougherty was 20 and working at Lockheed Aircraft when he met Norma Jean Baker, 15, in 1942. They were married a few days after she turned 16.

"We decided to get married to prevent her from going back to a foster home," Dougherty later said, "but we were in love."

Their marriage ended four years later when Dougherty's young wife was "discovered" by Hollywood while he was away serving with the merchant marines. He returned home to try and talk her out of divorcing him, but it was useless, he said.

"She wanted to sign a contract with (20th Century) Fox and it said she couldn't be married -- they didn't want a pregnant starlet," Dougherty told UPI in 1984.

Doherty married again not long after the divorce, Norma Jean Baker Doherty became Marilyn Monroe and the rest is Hollywood history.

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