Who did Marilyn Monroe want to impress with her dress when she sang to Kennedy?

That night Marilyn Monroe was a nervous wreck. She had interrupted her commitment to the shooting of Someone has to concede to be in New York, and sent her assistant to the hotel a few moments before performing because she had left her earrings. She arrived on stage almost out of breath, having spent the whole day practicing the Happy Birthday with his pianist. This was told by Marie Irvine, make-up artist of the legendary actress.

Among the images that reflect the icon that Monroe was, without a doubt one of the most notable is the “happy birthday” that he dedicated to President John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962, sixty years ago today. A few minutes of filming that could end up in one of those time capsules as part of the collective memory of the 20th century.

With the excuse of a benefit gala of the Democratic Party, in a packed Madison Square Garden, 15,000 people had gathered to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the president. A parade of politicians and movie stars enlivened by the jokes of the English actor Peter Lawford.

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Reputedly a tardy, the audience roared with laughter every time Lawford called her onstage. In a gag that was repeated several times, the spotlights were turned on to welcome a diva who never came. Until she finally showed up. Coquettish and carefree, she was more sensual than ever that day.


The dress in which Marilyn Monroe sang her “Happy Birthday” to Kennedy


She was wearing a silk chiffon garment by French designer Jean Louis, so tight she later said it was just fur and beading. In fact, she had to have it sewn up in the back once it was on, and she didn’t even let her underwear mar the allure of her curves. A picture that delighted the public and also caused a stir.

Enamored with the models she created for Marlene Dietrich, Monroe had ordered the dress from the French couturier specifically for that evening. Who did she want to impress her? This is where the most morbid part of this story begins.

That night, the president’s wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, was not present at Madison Square Garden, preferring to take her children to a show. It would be rash to say that she was absent out of jealousy, because she did not usually attend the party’s events. However, there are grounds for speculation.

Much has been made of the alleged romance between Monroe and Kennedy. From the fact that she was madly in love until her death hides an undercover murder, there are many fanciful theories. The only plausible thing, since several testimonies coincide, is that they spent a night together.

According to Donald Spoto, biographer of the actress, this meeting happened on the night of March 24, 1962. Both had been invited to a party at the Palm Springs house of singer and actor Bing Crosby. In the book Marilyn Monroe. The biography (1993), Spoto narrated that encounter.

According to Ralph Roberts, then Marilyn’s masseuse and confidante, that night she phoned him from one of the rooms in the house asking for advice about alleged muscle pain. Not his, but the president’s, whose background voice Roberts could recognize from the other end of the receiver.

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Always according to Roberts, some time later Monroe personally confirmed the meeting. Along with some other testimony, this overnight escapade is the only thing there seems to be evidence for. Beyond this, Spoto ditches that no biographer can identify Monroe and Kennedy as protagonists of a affair long term love

Nor did the press of the time echo that story too much, which was reaching impossible heights in the gossips of high society. An adventure at these levels did not seem acceptable for 1962, even less so without anyone who dared to confirm it.

In Hollywood, behind closed doors, stories of all kinds were told. Like Clark Gable’s supposed hustler past, who was said to have thrived in the most sordid ways at the beginning. Indeed, beyond Monroe, President Kennedy is credited with many dalliances, some of which Spoto confirms in his book.

Be that as it may, knowing this anecdote, Monroe’s show that night becomes even more ardent. Shedding a fur coat and revealing his curves, he began with an intimate, agitated sigh. Then, before 15,000 people, she sang the only adult version of the Happy Birthday.

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Columnist Louella Parsons (right) with her secretary in 1945.

Taking the stage after the performance, the president finished off the Show with an affectionate compliment, “Now I can retire from politics, after they have sung the Happy Birthday in such a sweet way.” Who knows what would go through “King Arthur’s” head that night, or his Princess Guinevere’s, a Jackie Kennedy who imagined a “Camelot” that, apparently, was not so bucolic.

That was the last time the president crossed paths with Monroe. After three months, the body of the actress was found in her house in Los Angeles, lifeless and naked on her bed. She had suffered an overdose from ingesting barbiturates.

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