Sunday, March 27, 2011

Marilyn Monroe in Korea 1954

In February 1954, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were newlyweds, on a trip in Japan, when the bride took a detour to Korea to entertain the troops. She performed ten shows in four days, in front of audiences that totaled more than 100,000 soldiers and marines. Later Monroe recalled 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."
One of those fellows, Hospitalman 2nd class David Geary, a navy medic, brought his new Argus camera to a concert. As Geary hunted for a seat, someone spotted his Red Cross armband. "Suddenly a voice says, 'Hey doc, c'mere,' and I ended up in the second row, with a beautiful angle onto the stage." Though many photographs of this concert survive, this view is suprisingly rare, for Geary was not a professional photographer or a journalist. His portraits allow us to see Monroe through the eyes of everyday people who made her feel like a star.
Dave Geary knew his work was important. "One day I asked the guys, 'What can I do with these pictures?' They said 'Send them to the Smithsonian Institute [sic]!' 'Oh boy! I never thought of that!'" A few months and many telephone calls later, Geary generously donated nine 35-mm transparencies to the National Portrait Gallery















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