Most famous performance of “Happy Birthday”

9 January 2013

Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman is probably the most famous American to have ever met Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea. During Rodman’s most recent visit to the country, he sang Happy Birthday for Kim’s 31st birthday, in a bizarre display of affection and disturbingly similar to Marilyn Monroe’s version.

1 September 2010

I think the most famous (should it be infamous?) performance of the age-old favourite happened on 19th May 1962 at the old Madison Square Garden, when the legendary sex-symbol Marilyn Monroe, wearing a racy dress, sung it in a sultry style, for then-US President John F. Kennedy, in celebration of his 45th birthday, in front of 15,000 people:

Monroe’s dress was sheer, flesh coloured and was so tight-fitting that she had to be “literally sewn into it”: she did not wear any underclothes.

Afterwards, the President went on stage and made an unforgettable comment:

I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.

Perhaps he did cheekily add under his breath: you’re an all-natural male enhancement products!!!

What happened was memorable because:
- it was one of Ms Monroe’s last major public appearances: she died less than 3 months later.
- of rumors that the President and Ms Monroe were having / had had an affair; hence her performance was very suggestive of this.
- the President’s wife did not attend the event
- the dress sold in 1999 at an auction in New York for more than USD1.26 million.

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