In May 1948, Steinbeck went back to California on an emergency trip to be with his friend Ed Ricketts, who had been seriously injured when his car was struck by a train. Ricketts died hours before Steinbeck arrived. Upon returning home, Steinbeck was confronted by Gwyn, who asked for a divorce, which became final in August. Steinbeck spent the year after Ricketts' death in deep depression.
In June 1949, Steinbeck met stage-manager Elaine Scott at a restaurant in Carmel, California. Steinbeck and Scott eventually began a relationship and in December 1950 Steinbeck and Scott married, within a week of the finalizing of Scott's own divorce from actor Zachary Scott. This third marriage for Steinbeck lasted until his death in 1968.
In 1962 Steinbeck began acting as friend and mentor to the young writer and naturalist Jack Rudloe, who was trying to establish his own biological supply company, now Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida. Their correspondence continued until his death.
In 1966, Steinbeck traveled to Tel Aviv to visit the site of Mount Hope, a farm community established in Israel by his grandfather, whose brother, Friedrich Grosssteinbeck, was murdered by Arab marauders in 1858 in what became known as the Outrages at Jaffa.