Books & Autographs

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President”

An Archive of President Kennedy's 45th Birthday Gala

NEW YORK, NY -- The night Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden is a touchstone cultural event of the 20th century. Offered in Rare Books, Autographs & Maps is an archive of the reception held after the gala at the Manhattan townhouse of Arthur and Dr. Mathilde Krim. The archive includes the guest book signed by President Kennedy, his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Marilyn Monroe, Maria Callas, Henry Fonda, Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Durante, Nichols and May, Diahann Carroll, and others. Quite remarkably, this is the only item we trace from that evening that includes President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe's signatures.

Arthur Krim (1910-1994) was, for four decades, one of the most powerful studio heads in Hollywood, having run Eagle-Lion Films, United Artists and Orion Pictures between 1946-92. He also served as finance chairman for the Democratic Committee and as an advisor to President Johnson. Dr. Mathilde Krim (1926-2018) was a pioneering research scientist and co-founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Highly philanthropic, the Krims frequently hosted receptions and events at their Manhattan townhouse.

Beyond the guestbook, the Krims received a stack of eighteen original black and white photographs of the reception taken by official White House photographer Cecil Stoughton. President Kennedy appears in many of these vintage photographs, casually talking to Diahann Carroll, taking in the performances on the landing between floors, chuckling with Jimmy Durante and posing with the Krims in the dining room. Within this group, Marilyn Monroe appears once, dreamily watching the same performance of Diahann Carroll, her head resting on her elbow as she almost disappears into the crowd. Stoughton did capture one image of the President with Marilyn Monroe that evening, suppressed for decades and only revealed after the photographer’s death in 2008. The archive includes a later copy of that image showing Marilyn Monroe in the Jean Louis dress of 2500 rhinestones, President Kennedy and smiling onlookers Robert Kennedy and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., as well as a film reel presented to Arthur Krim in 1980 from the producers of 20/20 of Monroe’s now infamous Madison Square Garden performance.

The guestbooks from the Krim townhouse contain much more than the signatures from that night in May 1962. Present are four albums, dating from 1961-1997, containing thousands of signatures from hundreds of events. Other notable signatures include Nelson and Winnie Mandela from their historic visit to New York City in 1990; numerous signatures of Lyndon B. Johnson, for whom Arthur Krim served as an advisor; President Jimmy Carter; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; Brooke Astor; Sidney Poitier; Kirk Douglas; Jane Fonda; dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov; director Otto Preminger; artists Ross Bleckner, Richard Prince, Larry Rivers, Christo and Jeanne-Claude; Elie Wiesel and others. Also of political interest are two signatures of future Republican President Donald Trump, both signed while attending Democratic National Committee events in the 1970s.

But, rightly so, the archive of 19 May 1962 piques the imagination today as we try to imagine a gala and reception bringing together such a notable who’s who of political and entertainment figures. This legendary event did much to cement both John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe as cultural icons of the 20th century – the evening has earned a permanent place of importance in American cultural memory. Now, sixty years since and only recently discovered, Doyle is pleased to offer this remarkable archive of President John F. Kennedy’s 45th Birthday Celebration Gala for the first time at auction.

Rare Books, Autographs & Maps

Auction Thursday, October 13, 2022
Exhibition October 8 - 10

Lot 26
John F. Kennedy, as President; Marilyn Monroe and many others. The signed guest book and original photographs from the May 19th, 1962 reception held following President Kennedy's 45th Birthday Celebration at Madison Square Garden.
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Portrait of specialist Peter Costanzo
SVP/Executive Director, Books, Autographs & Photographs / Estate & Appraisal Services
Books & Autographs
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