May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Day 139 of Vintage 365


With the recent History Channel miniseries about the life and times of the illustrious Kennedy family, titled (aptly) "The Kennedy's", JFK has likely been on a more peoples' minds than usual this spring.

Though I don't profess to be an expert on all things Camelot and am not watching the series very closely, I do happen to know that today was the date, in 1962, when Marilyn Monroe serenaded president John. F. Kennedy's with her sultry, almost haunting, and now rather infamous rendition of Happy Birthday.


A great deal has been written - an even greater deal speculated - over the years regarding the turbulent connection that JFK and Marilyn shared, and while perhaps they will be the only two souls who ever really know what transpired between them, there's no denying the fact that they definitely had a relationship.

Both of these mid-twentieth century figures died young under strange circumstances. Both were powerful, rich, successful, cunning and aloof, and it is perhaps these commonalities that drew the 35 president of the United States to one of the most alluring and sought-after actresses and sex-symbols of all time.

In Marilyn's version of the classic birthday tune, she added the words, "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."

Though on the surface these verses may seem like a friendly patriotic nod to Jack's accomplishments, I cannot help but sense that perhaps she was, in her own not-so-subtle way expressing her gratitude to him for the time they'd shared together.

While 49 long years have passed since Happy Birthday had the words "Mr. President" tacked onto it publically by a titillating dressed Marilyn Monroe, the impact that this performance had on the American public has ensured that it remains as much in the spotlight five decades on as it did on that warm May night in 1962 when two of the era's most famous names shared knowing glances across a dark room at Madison Square Garden.

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