John Derr’s stories filled three books. This story, though, is one of the best.
Derr many times recounted his friendship with the great Joe DiMaggio, who would often sit with Derr atop the CBS Sports tower 20 feet above the 15th green of Augusta National during The Masters.
Why in the tower? Because, as the Yankee Clipper would say, “Not many people ask you for interviews when you’re 20 feet in the air.”
Anyway, as Derr would tell it, even during a broadcast, he and Joe would get a lot of time in between action to chat. And during DiMaggio’s relationship with Marilyn Monroe, Derr, of course, couldn’t help but ask about how things were going between the two popular icons.
“Fine, fine,” the terse DiMaggio would often reply. But one day, Joe cracked the facade a little bit.
“John, it’s just all this attention,” Derr would recall DiMaggio saying. “All these reporters. And Hollywood. Marilyn just feels like she has to always be ‘ON.’ Just ‘ON.’ Sometimes, it’s hard for her to just be herself.”
Derr opined it might be good for them to get away from the bright lights. A week to themselves. Derr had a place in the northeast. Joe and Marilyn could go there, where no one would expect them, and could have all that time just to themselves. Derr and his wife wouldn’t be using the place. Just Joe and Marilyn.
“John, I’d like that. I’d really like that,” Derr remembered DiMaggio saying.
After The Masters, Derr went and made all of the arrangements. A date was set, and DiMaggio said they’d be on their way. A quiet bungalow tucked away where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe could get away and rekindle the magic that had brought them together.
Not long after, Derr asked Joe how it went.
“Didn’t make it, John,” Derr remembered. “She just couldn’t let herself go.”
It was a sad tale, really. But Derr only paused a weighty second when telling the story.
“That close,” Derr would then say. “I was THAT close to being able to say I had Marilyn Monroe in my bed.”
Thanks, John. We’ll miss you.