Happy Birthday, Mr. President
Marilyn Monroe's original performance of the song
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"Happy Birthday, Mr. President" is a song sung by actress and singer Marilyn Monroe on Saturday, May 19, 1962, for President John F. Kennedy at a celebration of his forty-fifth birthday, ten days before the actual date (Tuesday, May 29).
Monroe sang the traditional "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics in a sultry, intimate voice, with "Mr. President" inserted as Kennedy's name. She continued the song with a snippet from the classic song, "Thanks for the Memory", for which she had written new lyrics specifically aimed at Kennedy.
- 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
Afterwards, as an enormous birthday cake was presented to him, President Kennedy came on stage and joked about Monroe's version of the song, saying, "I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way," alluding to Marilyn's delivery, skintight dress, and image as a sex symbol.
The song and Monroe's performance have been remembered for numerous reasons. It was one of her last major public appearances before her death less than three months later on August 5, 1962. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy did not attend the celebration.
President Kennedy's birthday celebration was held at the third Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, and more than 15,000 people attended, including numerous celebrities. The event was a fundraising gala for the Democratic Party.
Monroe's dress was noted for being made of a sheer and flesh colored marquisette fabric, with 2,500 shimmering rhinestones sewn into it. The dress was so tight-fitting that Monroe had difficulty putting it on; she wore nothing under it. It was designed by Jean Louis.
Peter Lawford was at the event that night to introduce Monroe. He made a play on the actress's reputation for tardiness by giving her a number of introductions throughout the night, after which she did not appear on stage. When Monroe finally appeared in a spotlight, Lawford introduced her as the "late Marilyn Monroe". Monroe peeled off her white ermine fur coat, revealling the dress, and the audience gasped.
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Madonna made a famous parody of the song on Saturday Night Live during the 90s, singing "Happy Inauguration, Mr. President" (Season 18, Episode 11), changing President Kennedy to President Bill Clinton (played by Phil Hartman) who had recently won a second term as President of the United States, his wife Hillary Clinton (played by Jan Hooks) and their daughter Chelsea Clinton (performed by Julia Sweeney).
- Original performance of "Happy Birthday", Marilyn Monroe. Shown on Columbia Broadcasting System, May 29, 1962.
- Hank Jones: The Man Who Accompanied Marilyn
- "Madison Square Garden III" on Ballparks.com
- Branch, Taylor (2007). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, p. 590
- "Happy Birthday, JFK", University of Massachusetts Lowell, URL last accessed February 2, 2010
- "Musical composer, lyricist Richard Adler dies at 90". CBC News. June 22, 2012.
- "Lana Del Rey and A$AP Rocky Play Presidential in 'National Anthem'". Rolling Stone. June 27, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2012.