Peter Lawford met Marilyn in his agent’s office in 1951, when he was twenty-seven and she twenty-four. She was, he said, such an “alarmingly pretty” girl that “it really made me sit up.” They dated a few times that year, both alone and in foursomes. She was taken with him, but he proved less than interested in her. She thought he might be gay. But the truth was that Marilyn wasn’t Peter’s type. In an interview that same year, Peter said, “There are many girls with long blond hair and sexy figures whom men consider beautiful. But I don’t. To me a girl with a well-groomed look, not the flamboyant type, but a quiet beauty who radiates health and vitality is the greatest beauty of them all. I go for the typical college type, not movie sirens.”
Peter was initially attracted to Marilyn because at that time she did have a wholesome, down-to-earth side. But he was put off by the Marilyn Monroe persona that she adopted publicly. They did date a few more times, but a strange evening brought that chapter of their relationship to a close. On one occasion Peter would never forget, he went to pick Marilyn up and found two burly bodyguards standing on either side of her front door. They asked him what he wanted. “I have a date with Miss Monroe,” he told them warily.
“She’s not going out.”
“But I have a date with her!” Peter replied.
“Forget it. She’s staying here tonight.”
Peter sensed that he had better leave, but he called Marilyn the minute he got home. “What the hell’s going on?” he asked her.
“It’s Howard Hughes,” Marilyn whispered. “I went out with him and he’s so jealous that he won’t let me leave the house at night. I’m a prisoner in my own home.”
Luckily for Marilyn’s freedom, the eccentric billionaire’s attentions were soon diverted to other pretty starlets.