Uncredited/AP/REX/ShutterstockOne of my and Dave Ketchum’s assignments in the radio and TV section of the public information office at Camp Roberts, California, in 1952 was to write, produce, and perform a weekly half-hour radio show that aired over KPRL in Paso Robles and other stations near the camp.
Part of the show consisted of a taped interview with a popular movie star, usually selected by our listeners, who included some of the 40,000 troops undergoing infantry training at Camp Roberts. Marilyn Monroe was always the number one choice of the GIs. (These are 10 beauty tips that you should steal from Marilyn Monroe.)
We finally got a chance to interview her at the 20th Century-Fox studios in Los Angeles, about 250 miles south. The studio publicist warned us that the actress was gaining a reputation for being late and, sometimes, uncooperative. We were undeterred. Dave did the interview—he’d had his own radio show in San Diego before he was called to active duty in the Army. I operated the recorder, a large professional unit with 16-inch tape reels. The machine weighed more than 50 pounds.
Not only was Marilyn on time, she was friendly, cooperative and a great interview. When it was over she asked if she could add something and, of course, we said yes. She ad-libbed a touching and heartwarming tribute to the servicemen and women, thanking them for listening and wishing them the very best of luck.
She was beautiful, bright and charming. She was the Marilyn we’ll always remember. This is the untold story behind Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress.