James Dougherty (police officer)

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James Dougherty
Born James Edward Dougherty
(1921-04-12)April 12, 1921
Texas, U.S.
Died August 15, 2005(2005-08-15) (aged 84)
Marin, California
Nationality American
Occupation Policeman
Known for First husband of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jeane Dougherty, née Mortenson) (m. 1942–1946)
Patricia Dougherty (née Scoman) (m. 1947-1971)

Rita Dougherty (née Lambert) (m. 1974-2003; her death)
Children Cheryl Dougherty
Vivian Dougherty
Mary Dougherty
Parent(s) Ethel Dougherty (mother) (deceased)
Edward Dougherty (father) (deceased)

James Edward "Jim" Dougherty (April 12, 1921 – August 15, 2005) was an American policeman, best known for being the first husband of Marilyn Monroe.

Early life[edit]

Dougherty's grandparents were immigrants from England and Ireland.[1] Dougherty himself was born in Texas. He was the youngest in a family of four children born to Ethel (née Beatty) and Edward Dougherty, natives of Pueblo, Colorado, who moved to Globe, Arizona, when he was an infant. They relocated to Los Angeles County, California during his adolescence. He attended Van Nuys High School, graduating in 1938 alongside Jane Russell, where he was active in theater and a member of the football team.[2]


Dougherty was married three times. His first marriage was to Marilyn Monroe. While working part-time and living with his parents, Dougherty met Monroe (then known by her birth name of Norma Jeane Baker) when she was 15 and he was 20.[3] They began dating. Monroe's foster family was moving away and couldn't take Monroe with them, so her foster mother suggested that Dougherty marry the underage Monroe, who otherwise may have had to return to an orphanage.[4][5] In a later interview with the A&E Network, he said that his own mother also wanted him to marry Monroe.[citation needed]

On June 19, 1942, Dougherty and Monroe married at the home of his friend Chester Howell in Los Angeles. After they met, she affectionately nicknamed him "Jimmie."[6] In 1943, Dougherty joined the United States Merchant Marine. Prior to that he had worked with Robert Mitchum in a defense plant. He was ordered to boot camp on Santa Catalina Island, California, where Norma Jeane lived with him. In 1944, he was sent overseas, much to Norma Jeane's dismay. Norma Jeane started to work for Radioplane Company where she was included in a series of morale-boosting photographs, launching her career as a model and actress.[7] She moved out of her mother-in-law's home and stopped writing to Dougherty. She filed for divorce in Las Vegas, Nevada, while he was in Shanghai, China; it was finalized on September 13, 1946. In the book To Norma Jeane With Love, Dougherty stated he was so depressed after his breakup with Monroe that he considered taking his own life, but he could not bear the thought of his mother finding his body.

Dougherty's second marriage was to Patricia Scoman in 1947, which was around the time he joined the LAPD. They had three daughters: Cheryl Ann Dougherty (born 1947), Vivian Kathleen Dougherty (born 1950),and Mary Irene Doughtery (born 1952). The couple divorced in 1972.

In 1974, Dougherty married a third time, to Rita Lambert. The couple relocated to her native Maine, settling in Sabattus.[8] They were married until her death in 2003. He was noted to have become more outspoken about his relationship with Monroe after marrying Lambert. In 1997, Dougherty commented: "I love her, but I'm not in love with her. There's a lot of difference between loving someone and being in love."[9]

Other work[edit]

He was one of the police officers who held back the crowd at the premiere of Monroe's 1950 movie, The Asphalt Jungle, although she was never present at the event herself. Dougherty later appeared on To Tell the Truth as "Marilyn Monroe's real first husband." During a CNN appearance, Dougherty informed Larry King that an LAPD officer, Jack Clemmons, called him only minutes after he had found Monroe dead. According to To Norma Jeane with Love, he explains that when New York Times asked him to comment on her death, Dougherty replied: "I'm sorry," and continued his LAPD patrol.


  • The Secret Happiness of Marilyn Monroe, Buccaneer Books, 1976 (out of print)
  • To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie, BeachHouse Books, 2001, ISBN 978-1-888725-51-3

In To Norma Jeane with Love, Dougherty wrote that they were in love but dreams of stardom lured her away. She always maintained theirs was a marriage of convenience. She was furious when he told Photoplay in 1953 she threatened to jump off the Santa Monica Pier if he left her. In a 1956 interview, however, she confessed to having attempted suicide during the marriage and stated that she felt trapped and bored by Dougherty, even blaming their marriage on her foster mother.[10]

Dougherty maintained in his books that he did not mind if she modeled. Conversely, his sister wrote in the December 1952 issue of Modern Screen Magazine that he left Norma Jeane because she decided to pursue modeling, and he didn't like the attention it created. He told Lifetime's "Intimate Portrait" that he cut off her monthly allotment when he was served with divorce papers; To Norma Jeane with Love also references this.

Marilyn's Man[edit]

Dougherty was also featured in a 2004 documentary, called Marilyn's Man.[11] On 7 August 2008, a Maine judge, who found that "substantial fraud" had occurred, ordered documentary producer Schani Krug to repay more than $500,000 and interest to Dougherty's heirs and investors in the documentary. Lawyers said Krug spent investors' money on himself and injured parties never received promised proceeds from the documentary.[12]


Dougherty died on August 15, 2005 in Marin, California[13] of complications related to leukemia. He was 84 years old.[14]


  1. ^ "Eben R. Dougherty born c1850 Ireland". Genealogy.com. February 16, 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
  2. ^ To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie by Jim Dougherty, 2000. p 2-10
  3. ^ "James Dougherty, Monroe's First Husband". LIFE. August 21, 2005. Retrieved May 7, 2011. "When he discovered Marilyn at the age of 15, she was rough around the edges. She was pretty much a tomboy. They met at Van Nuys High School in California. And Jim really feminized her, took her everywhere with him and showed her the world. He was a bon vivant, great sense of humor, and he brought that out in her, really refined her, even kind of showed her how to walk and be sexy. That was kind of Jim's way of showing her how to be a sexy woman."
  4. ^ "James Dougherty, 84; Was Married to Marilyn Monroe Before She Became a Star". LA Times. August 18, 2005. Retrieved May 7, 2011. ""They wanted to move back to [West] Virginia, and they couldn't take Norma Jean," Dougherty said in the 1990 interview. "She would have gone back to an orphanage or another foster home, so her foster mother suggested I marry her. ... I thought she was awful young, but I took her to a dance. She was a pretty mature girl and physically she was mature, of course. We talked and we got on pretty good.""
  5. ^ "Personal Letter from a 16-Year Old Marilyn Monroe Sells for $52,460 at Bonhams & Butterfields". artdaily.org. April 20, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  6. ^ To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie by Jim Dougherty, 2000
  7. ^ McLellan, Dennis (18 August 2005). "James Dougherty, 84; Was Married to Marilyn Monroe Before She Became a Star". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "James Dougherty". Chicago Tribune. August 18, 2005. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  9. ^ "James Dougherty". The Independent. August 19, 2005. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  10. ^ "Marilyn: The case for 'assisted suicide'". Independent. March 18, 2007. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  11. ^ "Marilyn Monroe's first husband recounts romance". China Daily. January 2, 2004. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  12. ^ "Maine movie maker must repay $500K". Sea Coast Online. August 8, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  13. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V3T3-G3B
  14. ^ "James Dougherty, 84, Detective; Marilyn Monroe's First Husband". New York Times. August 19, 2005. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  • The Marilyn Encyclopedia by Adam Victor (The Overlook Press, Woodstock, New York, 1999 Adam Victor, s.v. James Dougherty)

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