By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“We had nothing to do with the Queen Mary exhibit,” Popp says. “Nor did we benefit from the showing in any way. The artifacts obtained from June were given in good faith as to their origin. We had no idea what went on with that — our dedication is to the book.”
Popp says that some possessions belonging to June’s late mother must have gotten mixed up with her Marilyn artifacts.
As with the exhibit, June DiMaggio’s Playboyexcerpt of the DiMaggio-Popp book and interview received unfavorable scrutiny. In the interview, DePaulo says June sat next to her uncle on the car ride to Monroe’s funeral. The photographic evidence, however, shows no sign of June anywhere at the funeral — or anywhere with Marilyn Monroe when the actress was alive. June DiMaggio now admits that she hadn’t ridden in a car with “Uncle Joe” to Monroe’s funeral, but had confused that ride with the one to her father’s services.
Hugh Hefner is bluntly honest when asked if Playboy made any attempts to verify June DiMaggio’s claims.
“No. No. No,” he says. “All of it’s obviously self-serving and you just don’t know. Where reality ends and fiction begins, I don’t know.”
Dolores Hope Masi, a 64-year-old owner of a Las Vegas paralegal business, claims that when she was a child in the 1950s, Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, in order to escape the press, would stay overnight at Masi’s family home in Sherman Oaks for several nights a week. Masi says she attended the Queen Mary press conference and introduced herself to June DiMaggio, whom Masi says she doesn’t remember ever being around Monroe or Joe.
“I walked up to her,” Masi says, “and shook her hand and said, ‘Hi, my name is Dolores Hope Masi, do you know who I am?’ She said ‘No,’ and I said, ‘I don’t know who you are, either!’?” Masi herself has been the subject of some derision, much of it, not surprisingly, coming from Mark Bellinghaus. Masi, who was interviewed on a softball segment of ABC’s Good Morning America, claims Monroe gave her or her mother 30 to 40 pieces of jewelry and six items of clothing, including studio costumes. Since last year she has been selling low- and high-end reproductions of this jewelry, and will soon start marketing Monroe-gown knockoffs. Masi is also currently negotiating a book deal about her life.
The doubts about June’s veracity focused suspicion on her book’s most sensational claim — that not only was Marilyn Monroe murdered, but that June’s mother, Lee, happened to be on the phone with Monroe at the time the intruders broke into the actress’s home. If this weren’t enough, June, who says she brought a homemade pizza over to Monroe hours before her death, swears her mother told her that Monroe shouted the name of one of her assailants into the phone just before they silenced her. June’s mother, however, supposedly took this name to her grave, fearing for her family’s safety. June says Lee did not even tell her this information.
The somewhat oversized DiMaggio-Popp book fits neatly onto a small coffee table. Written in the same folksy style that graces the back-menu histories of old restaurants, it’s laid out like a scrapbook, with family recipes and many photos of Joe and Marilyn at home with June’s parents, as well as many of June as she struggled to define herself as an actor during the 1940s and ’50s.
While June provides generously candid details about herself (she possessed advanced ESP powers and a 42D bust that Monroe envied), the book is filled with chronological improbabilities. She also claims to be younger than Monroe when she is actually three years older. And she omits the fact that Tom DiMaggio was her mother’s second husband, whom she married when June was 19. There is also the matter of why she doesn’t appear in any photographs with her confidante, Monroe. (June’s only seen once, with what seems to be a napping Joe DiMaggio in a grainy snapshot.)
When reached by phone at her Sacramento home, June sounds every bit convincing as the senior citizen who recalls Monroe as a nearsighted woman-child who visited Tom and Lee DiMaggio’s home without makeup and her hair in pigtails. She sounds equally sincere when explaining why she isn’t pictured with Monroe in any of her book’s photographs that were taken at an aunt’s home.
“I took some of those pictures,” June says, implying that’s the reason for her absence in the pictures showing Monroe and Joe. “And the few pictures that were taken of me with Marilyn, a cousin destroyed.”
“We have done our due diligence with the book as far as authenticating,” Popp says. “It’s not a biography, these are the memories of June DiMaggio.” Popp says she and June are currently in negotiations for a film version of their book.
Popp says that the motive behind revealing that Monroe was mysteriously murdered was to help restore the star’s public image.
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