In February 1954, actress Marilyn Monroe traveled to Korea to entertain the American troops. She performed a quickly thrown-together show titled Anything Goes to audiences which totaled over 100,000 troops over 4 days.
The tour was also a chance for the film star to overcome a degree of stage fright. She remarked that the Korea 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”.
In one show where the start was delayed the troops got frustrated and threatened to riot so the opening acts had to be canceled to get her onto the stage sooner. The crowd adored her and they truly enjoyed her visit. She looked amazing in her baggy army uniform.
Ted Sherman, who served in the Navy during World War II and Korea, recalled: “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”.
Monroe flew to Korea during her honeymoon in Japan with her husband Joe DiMaggio. The baseball star was said to be annoyed by the fact that more fans turned out to see Marilyn in Japan than to see him and he refused to join her in Korea. Even at this early stage in their marriage, the cracks were starting to show and they divorced later that year.
The Korean Armistice Agreement which ended the Korean War was signed on July 27, 1953. Nevertheless, by 1954 there still were 225,590 American troops stationed in Korea.
(Photo credit: US Army Archives).