American History23 Nov 2009 06:48 pm
On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe made her last notable public appearance, singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to a crowd of 15,000 at a birthday party in honor of President John F. Kennedy’s forty-fifth birthday at Madison Square Garden. The notoriously late actress did not arrive until several hours into the show. Emcee Peter Lawford attempted to make light of the situation by giving Monroe a number of false introductions throughout the night. When the actress belatedly sauntered on stage, Lawford fatefully introduced her as the “late Marilyn Monroe.”
Monroe wore a flesh colored dress bedazzled with some 2500 rhinestones, that was so tight-fitting that she actually had to be sewn into it (she wore nothing underneath). Sung in a sultry voice, the actress sang the traditional “Happy Birthday” lyrics, and continued with new lyrics inspired by the song, “Thanks for the Memory,” that she had penned for the President:
Thanks, Mr. President
For all the things you’ve done
The battles that you’ve won
The way you deal with U.S. Steel
And our problems by the ton
We thank you so much.
After the performance, a jocular Kennedy took the stage and said of the song, “I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.”
Monroe’s performance is remembered for a numerous reasons, including the persistent rumor that she had had an affair with President Kennedy (and perhaps his brother Robert Kennedy as well). These allegations began to surface in the mid-1960s, but did not enter the mainstream press until the 1970s. A number of biographies of Monroe and the Kennedy’s corroborate this rumor, and many also allege that a heart-broken and increasingly unstable Monroe turned to JFK’s brother Robert (Bobby) after the President decided to break off the affair.
Sadly, the final days of Monroe’s life were marked by addiction to prescription medications and alcohol, severe depression and interpersonal problems. The circumstances surrounding her death in 1962 have remained a mystery and have provided endless fodder for conspiracy theorists; though classified as a “probable suicide,” the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as the possibility of homicide, has never officially been ruled out.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.