19 May: Marilyn’s Birthday Surprise

When Marilyn Monroe delivered her breathy, flirtatious rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to JFK on 19th May 1962, columnist Dorothy Kilgallen remarked, ‘it seemed like Marilyn was making love to the President in front of 40 million Americans.’ 

In fact the two are said to have never seen each other again, and just three months later Monroe was dead from a drug overdose.

In this episode, Olly, Arion and Rebecca reveal the forgotten, steel-based second verse of the song Monroe also sang that night, consider the role The Simpsons has played in ruining this moment forever, and explain why ‘Sing A Song of Sixpence’ has a lot to answer for…

Further Reading:

• Marilyn’s iconic performance – and the giant cake presented shortly afterwards:

• Biography on the story behind the song:


• Reader’s Digest investigate what happened to Marilyn’s dress: