Fifty years ago on May 19, 1962, a crowd of 15,000 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden waited patiently to see what would become one of the final public appearances of Marilyn Monroe. After several hours into President John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday fete, it finally got its wish: Amid all the darkness, an incandescent glittering Monroe, draped in white fur, suddenly emerged on stage, delicately clicking her heels over to the podium with a polished unsteady gait.
Removing her coat, the ethereal platinum blonde dazzled the audience with her seductive rendition of the “Happy Birthday to You” song, addressing Kennedy as “Mr. President.” She also added a portion of the famous song “Thanks for the Memory” and altered some of the lyrics to suit the Commander in Chief, who was rumored to be having an affair with her. Needless to say, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy was not in attendance.
Watch the moment right here:
Accenting Monroe’s sex appeal that night was the flirty swoop of her hair and even more, her 2,500 rhinestone flesh-colored gown designed by Jean Louis. It was said that the dress clung so tightly to her body that she had to be sewn into it and wore nothing underneath.
In 2009, Monroe’s gown was auctioned off at Christie’s of New York for $1.26 million.
Monroe’s “Happy Birthday to You, Mr. President” performance has become an unforgettable moment in pop culture history, and along with her untimely death just three months later on Aug. 5, she was solidified as a Hollywood legend and the quintessential sex symbol of all time.