Joe DiMaggio's Only Son Dies
Associated Press, 08/07/99 18:43
Joe DiMaggio Jr., the troubled son of the baseball Hall of Famer
and a pallbearer at his father's funeral in March, died at a hospital in
Antioch, Calif., apparently of natural causes, relatives and hospital officials
said Saturday. He was 57.
DiMaggio was not breathing and had no heartbeat when he was brought by
ambulance to Sutter Delta Medical Center late Friday night, hospital spokeswoman
Nancy Monfort said. Attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful and he died
about 11:25 p.m. Friday.
Though Monfort said the cause of death was not known, it was believed to be
from natural causes.
DiMaggio was the only child of Joe DiMaggio and Dorothy Arnold, an actress
whom the elder DiMaggio married in 1939 and divorced five years later. The elder
DiMaggio did not have any children with his second wife, Marilyn Monroe.
Joe Jr., who struggled with substance abuse and homelessness during the last
two decades, was estranged from his father and saw him infrequently in recent
years. He was divorced and had two adopted daughters who were doted upon by
For many years, both father and son had refused to answer questions about
Marie Amato Goodman, a cousin whose son was a close friend of the younger
DiMaggio, said the son was unable to cope with his father's fame.
''He had a brilliant mind. He was one of the intelligentsia,'' Goodman said.
''He lived in the shadow of his father and could not rise above that.
''He marched to a different drummer. He was very sensitive to the people
close to him,'' she said. ''He really was not a bad boy. He was confused about a
lot of issues in his life.''
Morris Engelberg, a close friend and attorney for the elder DiMaggio, said,
''It's very sad. He loved his father. He turned down a seven-figure offer to do
a book about Joe, as much as he could have used the money. He was broke.''
Engelberg said Joe Jr. had suffered from asthma.
DiMaggio attended Yale, but dropped out to enroll in the Marines. In the
mid-1970s, he had a blood clot removed from his head following a car accident.
During the past two decades, he battled drug and alcohol problems. He often
lived alone on the street, and took shelter at one point in a trucking
container. For a while, he was the manager of a trucking company in Oakland.
In September 1995, he fractured his leg when the bicycle he was riding hit a
van. He had a permanent limp after the accident, and was cited by the California
Highway Patrol for operating a bicycle under the influence of alcohol.
It was unclear where he was living and if he was working at the time of his
death. The hospital in Antioch is 37 miles northeast of San Francisco.
Joseph DiMaggio Jr.'s middle name was Paul, the same as his father and
uncles, Vince and Dominic, both of whom also played in the major leagues. Joe
DiMaggio Sr. once explained, ''Saint Paul was my father's favorite saint.''
The younger DiMaggio and his wife, Susan, adopted daughters Paula and
Katherine in the 1960s, but the marriage collapsed after six years.
The elder DiMaggio set
up a trust fund that was to pay his son $20,000 a year. The bequest, in a
will signed May 21, 1996, appeared to be the smallest gift in the
document, which also established trust funds for DiMaggio's two
grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.