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Marilyn Monroe's first husband dies

James Dougherty was the actress' last surviving spouse
/ Source: Reuters

James Dougherty, the first spouse and last surviving ex-husband of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, has died in California, a relative said Wednesday.

Dougherty, 84, a retired Los Angeles detective and former local politician in Maine, died Monday in San Rafael, California, north of San Francisco, his stepdaughter, Annie Woods, said by telephone.

Dougherty married 16-year-old Norma Jean Baker in 1942, midway through World War II. His mother was good friends with Baker’s foster mother.

During their four-year union, Dougherty joined the Merchant Marine and eventually went to China.

Baker -- who had her picture taken by an Army photographer while working on a military assembly line -- began modeling and later set her sights on Hollywood. She adopted the screen name Marilyn Monroe at about the time she signed her first movie contract with 20th Century Fox.

The actress died in 1962 at the age of 36. An autopsy concluded she had died of barbiturate poisoning.

Dougherty had a 25-year career at the Los Angeles Police Department and moved to Arizona after his retirement in 1974. He later settled in Maine, where he was a county commissioner and taught at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

In 1997, he co-wrote a book titled “To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie” -- spelling her given middle name with an “e” on the end, as she is said to have preferred. He was also the subject of a documentary last year, “Marilyn’s Man.”

Dougherty had three children with his second wife. His third wife died in 2003 after 32 years of marriage, according to his Web site.

Monroe was married and divorced three times during her life. In addition to Dougherty, her spouses were baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, who died in 1999, and playwright Arthur Miller, who died earlier this year.