“Suddenly she called: ‘Hi Eddy, it’s Marilyn'”: how the former Antwerp chairman impressed the 20th century sex symbol

12 May 1957 remains a memorable day in the life of the then 24-year-old Eddy Wauter. His Belgian club Antwerp won the title with a win against AA Gent. Wauters himself was in New York at the time, where he played soccer against the Israeli national team as captain of the American Soccer League. The starting shot for that duel was given by Marilyn Monroe, but Wauters had already made extensive acquaintances with the Hollywood icon earlier that day. “I sat with her in the back seat of an open Cadillac driving two hours through the streets of New York.”

Close to each other

At the time, Wauters had arrived in the United States on a scholarship to Yale to study monetary economics. He was also a Belgian international at the time, a talent that quickly earned him a professional contract with the Hakoah club in New York City. “Soccer in the United States was not much, so I was immediately one of the better ones. That’s why Hakoah wanted to keep me, but my scholarship ended and I had to do my military service in Belgium. So I wanted to go back home.”

© Wim Kempenaers

To convince the Antwerp native, he was named captain of the team and was given a prestigious farewell match. With an unexpected guest of honor. “Three times the club manager had called me to ask if I could definitely attend. And each time I confirmed without knowing what to expect. When I arrived they said Eddy, we have a surprise for you. And they escorted me to a Cadillac.” In the back seat: Marilyn Monroe. “I was completely taken aback.”

The stunned Belgian stood beside the movie star. “On her other side, the Israeli captain sat down, but the man barely spoke English, so I had to keep the conversation going. She asked my name, heard my accent and wanted to know where I was from. Belgium? I have never been to Belgium, but I would like to go there. maybe you want to invite me. She was even a little impressed that I studied at Yale University as a young Belgian. And opened her eyes when I told her how close Belgium is to Paris and how many times I had already been there.”

Vague promises

The then 30-year-old Monroe had a year earlier The seven year itch filmed the billowing summer dress that established her reputation as a sex symbol. “You could tell she was at the height of her fame in the crowds that lined the streets of New York. The spectators were lined up. And just call. Not to me.” (laughing)

© Collection ChristopheL via AFP

Wauters remembers his outfit. A blue dress with a plunging neckline. “Adorned with a white flower. Her beauty was impressive. With three people in the back seat you are very close to each other. It quickly seemed as if we had known each other for years. The American way, in short.”

After the tour through the city, the caravan headed for the Brooklyn Dodgers stadium, where the gala game took place. 55,000 spectators cheered Monroe and her company as the Cadillac completed two laps of the track. She then kicked off in high heels. “In the picture you can see how the New York judge has wrestled his way into her neighborhood. He put his arm around her, but he was shaking with emotion. Her charm and fame had such an effect on men.”

© Wim Kempenaers

After the match, the company went to dinner at a neighboring restaurant. “There were no more than about ten people there. Her husband Arthur Miller (a renowned playwright, ed.) accompanied her. Quiet man. But you could tell they were in love. She probably admired him as an intellectual. And what he saw in her, it seems clear to me. Beautiful woman. And kind.”

After that day, the student and the movie star kept in sporadic contact. They exchanged addresses and phone numbers. “We had agreed that in the evening when we said goodbye. The following weeks she called me. Hi Eddie, this is Marilyn. How are you feeling? In that hoarse and quiet voice, she thanked me for the pleasant meeting and asked how I was. A few days later I called her back at her house in Philadelphia. We also wrote a few letters to each other. She made vague promises to meet somewhere in Europe. Unfortunately, that never happened. She died five years later.”

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