In the summer of 1954, Peter arranged for Jack and Jackie to be invited to the agent Charles Feldman’s home for a party. Peter knew that among the guests would be Marilyn Monroe, the most talked- about woman in the world that year, and her husband of six months, former New York Yankee baseball great Joe DiMaggio. Their marriage was already on the rocks, and it would end a few months later, destroyed by DiMaggio’s jealousy and Monroe’s unwillingness to give up her burgeoning career, as DiMaggio insisted, and be a housewife.
DiMaggio’s mistrust of Marilyn’s fidelity was usually unfounded, but in the case of Marilyn and John F. Kennedy, his suspicions were justified. Marilyn said she felt uncomfortable at the party because Jack Kennedy stared at her the entire evening. “I may be flattering myself,” she giggled, “but he couldn’t take his eyes off me.” Charlie Feldman noticed that Jackie saw what Jack was doing, and she was getting angry. Joe DiMaggio was aware of what was going on, too. Every few minutes he would grab Marilyn’s arm and say, “Let’s go! I’ve had enough of this!” Marilyn didn’t want to leave, and Feldman recalled that “they had words about it.”
The DiMaggios did leave early, but sometime before that Marilyn gave Senator Kennedy her phone number. The next day Jack called, and DiMaggio answered the phone. When he asked who was calling, Kennedy said, “A friend.” DiMaggio hung up in Jack’s face and started to grill Marilyn about who it was, because he hadn’t recognized Kennedy’s voice. The next time Marilyn saw Kennedy, he said, “I guess I shouldn’t call at certain times, huh?”
A few months after the party at Charlie Feldman’s, Jack was hospitalized for surgery to alleviate a chronic back problem. Visitors to his room were amused by a color poster of Marilyn Monroe he had taped to the wall, in which she wore blue shorts and stood with her legs spread widely apart. Kennedy had hung the poster upside down.