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What is the story behind Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Happy birthday’ to JFK?

One of Marilyn Monroe’s final and msot famous public appearances came at a gala held for President John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday.

The tragic demise of Marilyn Monroe
Murray Garrett/Getty Images

It went down in history as the most famous birthday ballad of all time. At the Madison Square Gardens in central New York, May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe took to the stage to serenade the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. It was 10 days before his 45th birthday.

She sang “Happy Birthday to You”, using ‘Mr. President’ in place of JFK’s name. She followed this with a section of “Thanks for the Memory” with changed lyrics:

Thanks, Mr. President

For all the things you’ve done

The battles that you’ve won

The way you deal with US Steel

And our problems by the ton

We thank you so much

“I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way,” said JFK when he came onto the stage after Monroe.

Marilyn would die of a barbiturate overdose less than three months after her performance in the Madison Square Gardens.

The dress she wore on the night, designed by Bob Mackie, outlived Marilyn and was used by Kim Kardashian at the 2020 Met Gala. There is said to be irreversible damage that occured to the dress.

Where you can watch Blonde

The movie ‘Blonde’ is based on the bestselling novel written by Joyce Carol Oates of the same name. The film delves into the life of Marilyn Monroe that the public didn’t see by fictionalising real elements of the late star who was “watched by all, seen by none.”

The film is out globally on Netflix from September 28 so in all liklihood you can watch it now.