Support for LAist comes from
Made of L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Marilyn Monroe's Iconic 'Happy Birthday' Dress Just Sold For $4.8 Million

3marilynjfk0512.jpeg
Our June member drive is live: protect this resource!
Right now, we need your help during our short June member drive to keep the local news you read here every day going. This has been a challenging year, but with your help, we can get one step closer to closing our budget gap. Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership.

Marilyn Monroe performing "Happy Birthday" in the dress. (LIFE)

The dress that Marilyn Monroe wore as she performed her version of "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy is one of the most iconic in existence, and was the centerpiece of a scandalous rumor. It just sold at auction in Los Angeles for $4.81 million, according to the AP.

The dress was on the block at Julien's Auctions last night, and the big winner was Ripley's Believe It or Not, who will likely put it on display in the future.

Support for LAist comes from


The dress on a custom mannequin with Monroe’s exact body measurements. (Julien's Auctions)

Monroe wore the then-$12,000 dress to perform at a Democratic Party fundraiser being held at (the old) Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962. It doubled as a celebration for JFK's birthday, with 15,000 in attendance. Following the performance, JFK came to the stage and announced, "I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way." The performance (and Jackie Kennedy's absence) spurred rumors that the two were having an affair.

The dress—made of silk, sequins and rhinestone—was designed by Jean Louis, and Monroe famously had to be sewn into it because it was so tight; the actress was reportedly unable to wear anything underneath for the same reason.

Monroe died three months after the event (there are plenty of conspiracy theories about that), and JFK was assassinated the following year.

Most Read