1954: Watching the Filming of Marilyn’s Iconic Skirt-Billowing Shot Drove Joe DiMaggio into a Fit of Jealous Rage

Production photo from location shooting in “The Seven Year Itch,” circa late September 1954

Here’s a production photo from “The Seven Year Itch” that catches the filming of one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time — the shot in which a blast of air from the subway grate lifts Marilyn Monroe’s skirt and makes it billow. The scene was filmed on location, at 586 Lexington Avenue in New York, in late September 1954, and even though it was after midnight by the time cameras rolled, about 5,000 locals were on-hand, watching from the sidelines when director Billy Wilder shouted “action” and an industrial fan installed in the grate raised Marilyn’s skirts, exposing what appeared to be her panties but was in fact a costume piece no more revealing than any 1950s’ bathing suit.

Nonetheless, among the onlookers was Marilyn’s husband of nine months, baseball great Joe DiMaggio — and what DiMaggio saw that night blinded him with a jealous rage. Later, in their hotel room, DiMaggio gave vent to his jealousy. He slapped and hit Marilyn, yelling and screaming at her so loud that guests in neighboring rooms called the front desk. On the set the next day, bruises on Marilyn’s shoulders had to be covered with heavy makeup.

As soon as filming was complete, Marilyn flew back to Los Angeles and filed for divorce. It was granted within weeks, on Oct. 27, 1954. But that was not the end of the story. A week after the divorce was final, Joe’s jealousy drove him and his friend Frank Sinatra to follow Marilyn to an apartment in Hollywod where Joe believed she was visiting a lover. With two private eyes and several drunken friends, the broke the door down and entered the apartment — only to find they’d gone to the wrong place.

That incident, which came to be called the “Wrong Door Raid,” would become a cover story on Confidential Magazine in 1957, which would create an international scandal and humiliate both DiMaggio and Sinatra.

And it all started here, with the filming of what would become Marilyn Monroe’s signature pose.

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  1. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Creator) – TV Tropes

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