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 voice, with "Mr. President" inserted as Kennedy's name.
Monroe 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, President Kennedy came on stage and joked about 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 Monroe's delivery, her racy dress, and her general 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, August 5, 1962. In addition, there are persistent rumors that President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe had an affair, giving Monroe's performance another layer of meaning. 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 along with 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 rhinestones sewn into it. The dress was so tight-fitting that Monroe had to be literally sewn into it; 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 lateness by giving her a number of introductions throughout the night, after which she did not go on stage. As she finally came on stage several hours into the show, Lawford introduced her as the "late Marilyn Monroe".
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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 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.
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