The true story behind the only picture of Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy together revealed ahead of auction
A rare image of Marilyn Monroe together with President John F Kennedy will go on auction at Lelands on August 17.
A rare, and allegedly, the only image of Marilyn Monroe together with President John F Kennedy will go on auction at Lelands on August 17. This coming August 5 marks the 56th anniversary of her death, with the actress having passed away from an overdose of barbiturates at her Los Angeles home in 1962. Only 36-years-old at the time, she already had risen to become one of the most iconic sex symbols in the country's history and had seen her films gross over $200 million collectively.
Despite her troubled private life and well-documented problems with substance abuse, depression and anxiety, her unexpected death came as a shock to a nation that had become quite used to her 'blonde bombshell' persona. Very much a public figure in every sense of the word, her bodacious figure had made her the want of nearly every man, including the then-President of the United States, John F Kennedy.
It has long been speculated that Kennedy, along with his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, had had sexual relations with Monroe. It's a fact that has been corroborated by numerous biographers but still remains highly contentious, partly because there are almost no pictures of the duo/trio together. The photo about to go on sale at Lelands is, therefore, very much one of a kind.
Supposedly snapped on the day Monroe sang a highly-seductive 'Happy Birthday' to Kennedy at a rally at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, the picture sees the actress sporting a skin-tight, nude-colored dress and in the presence of quite a few big personalities. One can tell how smitten Kennedy was by Monroe in his reaction to the song. "I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way," he had said at the time.
According to TIME, the photo in question was taken by official White House photographer Cecil Stoughton on the night of the rally at an after-party at the Manhattan townhouse of Hollywood executive Arthur Kim. Besides the president and his brother (on the left), Harry Belafonte — who sang 'Michael Row the Boat Ashore' that night — can be seen at the center and back. Also visible is the bespectacled historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who can be seen on the right.
Monroe had also brought along Isidore Miller, her father-in-law from her marriage with Arthur Miller, to meet the President because she felt it would "be one of the biggest things in his life as an immigrant."
Multiple people have come out to claim that the actress slept with Kennedy. James Spada, one of her biographers, confirmed the fling to PEOPLE during her 50th death anniversary. Another biographer, Donald Spato, says the pair met four times between October 1961 and August 1962, with their only sexual encounter believed to have taken place two months before that concert.
Her masseur Ralph Roberts said that they slept together at Bing Crosby's house on March 24, 1962, adding that by the time the concert came around, their interest in one another had waned significantly.
The photo about to go on auction was discovered after Stoughton died in 2008, with Lelands claiming that it could be the only surviving version of the photo that Stoughton printed himself from the original negative.