Marilyn Monroe is arguably one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century. Her image still graces magazine covers, advertisements and art of all forms. It is not often that a never-before-seen pristine image of her from her prime emerges. But one such photo was discovered in a shoebox of old family photos from more than half a century ago.
This photograph of Marilyn Monroe was taken during a little known adventure that occurred in 1954 when she went to Korea for 10 days to visit the troops. She interrupted her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in Tokyo to go to Korea with the USO. It was the first time she had ever been out of the United States. With Marilyn in the photo is my grandfather, Col. Jack Kelsey, who was the commander of the Taegu Air Force Base.
Accounts of her trip are very positive, and this photo shows an almost perfect Marilyn with Col. Kelsey sharing a laugh in front of a portrait of her. At the time of the photo she was 28. She died a short eight years later on Aug. 5, 1962. If she were alive today she would be 84 years old.
As the CEO of Life Care Funding, I am a long-term care specialist and senior advocate. As I looked at this photo of Marilyn with my late grandfather, it struck me that today she would be the same age as many of the people I work with, helping them navigate the maze of long-term care options and the complexities of funding care. Other stars from that era, such as Betty White, Florence Henderson, Shirley Jones, and Wilford Brimley, to name a few, are now spokespeople for companies that help seniors with a variety of health and retirement issues.
Would Marilyn have joined their ranks in her later years? Would she have become an advocate and spokesperson for her generation? Would we now look at her as a different type of icon as she took on causes and issues important to her and her contemporaries? We will never know, but we can enjoy her work and images from the past as we wonder what might have been if she had lived past the too young age of 36.
It was an incredible discovery for us to find this photo and it is my pleasure to share this precious family heirloom with the world.
*the photo is property of the Orestis family and registered with the Library of Congress