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DiMaggio-Monroe Rose Legend Recalled

Ted Hilgenstuhler never met the late Joe DiMaggio, but he knew a private detail about the famous ballplayer who died Monday.

Hilgenstuhler, now 74 and a Simi Valley resident, was a reporter for the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner when he was covering the funeral of an actress being buried near the grave of Marilyn Monroe.

He said he was the only reporter there.

Walking by Monroe’s grave after the procession, Hilgenstuhler said, he noticed fresh roses.

“The [Monroe] funeral had been months ago, so I asked the groundskeeper, ‘What are those flowers doing there?’ ” Hilgenstuhler recalled. “ ‘Joe ordered them the day of the funeral,’ [the groundskeeper] said. '[DiMaggio] said, “I wanted red roses for Marilyn forever.’ ”

The next day, what Hilgenstuhler wrote added intrigue to the DiMaggio-Monroe legend. It ran under the headline “Red Roses, Forever, for Marilyn.”

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In 1982, DiMaggio stopped sending roses because it was causing too much sensation.

Hilgenstuhler, who now produces one-act television plays on a local cable channel, said the DiMaggio flower story was not his best nor the one he is proudest of. But, he admits, it’s the one that attracted the most attention.

“That’s the one that catches most people’s eye,” he said.


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