Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were on their honeymoon in Tokyo, Japan in February of 1954 when Marilyn recieved an invitation from General John E. Hull’s Far East command to entertain the U.S. troops stationed in war torn Korea. After a little thought and discussion with her husband she said yes. It should be said though that Joe objected to her going to Korea at that time as he feared for her safety. The armistice had just been signed in July of 1953 and she was going to do some of her shows very close to the front lines which was still a very dangerous place at that time, but she said it was ”the least she could do.” Her whirlwind tour consisted of ten shows in four days in sub-zero temperatures. Wearing nothing but a skin tight, low cut, plum colored sequined gown, she wowed the troops with her singing, dancing, and banter. Everywhere Marilyn Monroe went she was greeted with warmth and appreciation. One Army Corps of Engineers officer said of Marilyn, *“Of all the performers who came to us in Korea-and there were a half a dozen or so-she was the best…..It was bitter cold, but she was in no hurry to leave. Marilyn Monroe was a great entertainer. She made thousands of GI’s feel like she really cared.” Marilyn performed with a band made up of eleven servicemen called Anything Goes. Her pianist, Albert Guastafeste was taken aback by how down to earth and modest she was. He was quoted as saying,”Someone ought to go up to her and tell her she is Marilyn Monroe. She doesn’t seem to realize it. When you make a goof she tells you she’s sorry. When she goofs, she apologizes to me!” During her tour she also visited hospitals in Japan where wounded servicemen lay, stopping to talk, shaking hands, signing autographs, posing with all that asked for pictures. Even though she was totally exhausted from the tour and caught a mild case of pneumonia, she later told her friend Amy Greene that the Korea tour was one of the highlights of her entire career.
This is a video of clips from Marilyn’s tour in Korea. There is no sound from the actual tour, just background music, and at a little over ten minutes in length, some might find it a little long. It is well worth watching though as it shows her visiting the hospitals and performing and interacting with the GIs.
(Note:Some of the information and the quote marked with * in this posting I got from The Marilyn Encyclopedia by Adam Victor. It is a very thoroughly researched book of facts about Marilyn’s life and loaded with many pictures of Marilyn. I would highly recommend it as an addition to anyone’s library.)