Monroe.jpg
Photo by: David D. Geary (1930-1999), Silver dye bleach print, 1954 (printed 1998), National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of David D. Geary

Marilyn Monroe was perhaps the greatest sex symbol ever to come out of Hollywood. She also turned out to be quite a good actress, and although she was often difficult on the set, she was capable of delivering some astonishing original performances. As Billy Wilder, director of one of her finest films, Some Like It Hot , once put it, getting "three luminous minutes" of Monroe up on the screen was well "worth [the] week's torment" that it sometimes cost.

This picture was taken during Monroe's trip to Korea in 1954 to entertain American armed forces stationed there. By now, she was one of Hollywood's top-grossing stars, and the G.I.s crowded by the thousands to catch a glimpse of her. They were not disappointed. Despite the bitter winter cold, judging strictly from the thinly clad Monroe up on stage, it might as well "have been the hottest day of the year." The maker of the picture was a navy medic, Hospitalman Second Class David Geary, who had come to one of her performances armed with a new Argus camera.