Marilyn Monroe, even over 50 years after her death, is still one of the most iconic figures worldwide. We know her mostly by her platinum blonde hair, her flawless figure, and her soft and sultry voice. But many people don’t talk about how her talents for entertaining helped the troops in Korea, keeping their spirits up and motivating them to fight another day.
In February of 1954, Marilyn took a break from making movies to fly to Korea and put on a show for thousands of men in the US military. Right before she flew into Korea, Monroe was in Japan on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio. She flew alone to Korea as DiMaggio was still attending to business in Japan. In the four days Monroe spent with the troops she performed ten shows. She later said that performing in Korea helped her get over her fear of live performances as she entertained audiences that totaled more than 100,000 troops. She remarked that the trip “was the best thing that ever happened to me. I never felt like a star before in my heart. It was so wonderful to look down and see a fellow smiling at me.”
The troops greatly enjoyed her visit. Ted Sherman, who served in the Navy during World War II and Korea, recalled: “The movie star was at her glamorous best when she performed…for U.S. soldiers, airmen…I was with a group of Navy guys who happened to be at Daegu Air Force Base when we heard Marilyn would entertain there that night. We convinced our transport pilot to find something wrong with our R4D transport, so we could delay the return flight to our ship in Tokyo Bay for that one night. It was a great evening for all the homesick guys who were dazzled by the movie star’s performance. The sight and sounds of Marilyn singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is a memory I still cherish.”
This just goes to show that even in times of dread and war, dancing and a catchy tune can be a medicine for the soul. And hearing it from Marilyn Monroe would make the wounds heal all the more faster!
Sherman, Ted, “Marilyn Monroe entertained me in Korea, 1954,” Yahoo! Voices.com, August 3, 2012. Web.
Zimmerman, Jess, “Marilyn Monroe Eantertaining Troops, 1954.” History by Zim. June 11, 2011. Web.