"She was just fabulous. Nobody photographs like that. And it [the dress] was done for her. It was designed for her."
On this day - 60 years ago - on May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe attended President John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday gala celebration (which also acted as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party) at Madison Square Garden. There she would sing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" and a rendition of "Thanks for the Memory" - now an awe-inspiring moment in pop culture. Over 15,000 people attended, many of whom were celebrities, that would also give performances throughout the night.
Marilyn would take time off the film she was working on at the time, Something's Got to Give (costarring Dean Martin), to attend. Even though the time was taken off ahead of time, Marilyn would end up missing a lot of filming days in-between due to poor health - both mentally and physically. The studio wasn't so happy to say the least. *For more information on the timeline of the filming of Something's Got to Give, click here!*
She would fly out from California to New York a few days before the gala for rehearsal:
Marilyn before/after rehearsal for her performance
The dress Marilyn wore to the gala was sketched by Bob Mackie and made by Jean Louis, both now legendary designers. The dress was silk gauze, skin-tight, flesh-colored, and covered with approximately 6,000 hand-sewn rhinestones and 2,500 crystals. Marilyn would pay $1,440 for the gown to be made for her, so when zipped up it would hug her figure perfectly - about $13,700 in today's money.
When the night came, Marilyn would give a performance that would be remembered for generations to come...
"I feel I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way."
Marilyn would recall just a few months later to Life Magazine journalist Richard Meryman for an article:
"I was honored when they asked me to appear at the president's birthday rally in Madison Square Garden. There was like a hush over the whole place when I came on to sing Happy Birthday, like if I had been wearing a slip, I would have thought it was showing or something. I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, what if no sound comes out!'
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