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Marilyn Monroe sings "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to JFK

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" 57 years ago today, May 19, 1962, at John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in New York City. More then 15,000 people attended the event, including numerous celebrities.

Afterwards, as an enormous birthday cake was presented to him, President Kennedy came on stage and joked about Monroe's version of the song, saying "I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way", making reference to Monroe's delivery, her skintight dress and image as a sex symbol.

The performance was one of her last major public appearances before her death less then three months later on August 4, 1962. There have been questions as to why first lady Jackie Kennedy was not at the event. Many have speculated it was due to her dismay over the rumors of an affair between JFK and Monroe. In any case, Jackie, who rarely attended Democratic Party events, spent the day at the London Hunt Horse Show with her children, John and Caroline.

Here is a very rare color home video of the event:

Arguably the most famous dress ever, was worn by Marilyn Monroe for the event. The dress which originally cost $12,000 to make, featured over 2,500 Swarovski crystals. It was recently auctioned for $4.8 million, also making it the most expensive dress ever worn.

Marilyn Monroe standing between President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962 at Hollywood executive Arthur Krim's Manhattan townhouse, following the event at Madison Square Garden. To date, it is the only known photo of JFK and Monroe together.

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