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'A wise girl kisses but doesn't love, listens but doesn't believe, and leaves before she is left.'
It was 48 years ago today that Marilyn Monroe was literally sewn into a see-through gown and carried out to the stage of Madison Square Garden to serenade President John F. Kennedy for his birthday. LIFE photographer Bill Ray took this famous picture of Marilyn’s ass. And Hank Jones, the legendary jazz pianist who accompanied her breathy version of “Happy Birthday,” died on Sunday in New York at the age of 91. JFK and Marilyn Monroe didn’t make it nearly that long — she was found dead less than three months later, and his head was blown apart by assassins the following year.

Here’s the famous performance:

Jack Benny was there! So was LBJ! And so was, presumably, Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline, who maybe did not enjoy this musical sex performance as much as the tuxedo-clad martini-swilling boys did, on this spring night in Manhattan a half-century ago. [LIFE.com]

PS — And here is Hank Jones at Carnegie Hall in 1994, playing “Willow Weep For Me” at the Verve anniversary concert:

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75 COMMENTS

  1. Arlen Specter later explained, in his Single Woman Theory, that all the erections in MSG that night were caused by one woman.

  2. Ah yes, two deaths that spawned a million conspiracy theories. Really, it makes so much more sense that the Secret Service or FBI would poison and murder a world-famous actress because she was sexing the President than a severely depressed prescription pill addict overdosed, either accidentally or on purpose.

  3. Ya know I’ve got Hank on a bunch of records in my house and have always dug his playing but I did not know until now that he did this gig. Thanks, Wonkette!

  4. Haven’t you heard? Specter’s Magic Bullet theory has been supported by recent scientifical research on TV shows, which makes it reality.

  5. Phil Schapp just did a two day tribute to Hank Jones. I got to listen to a couple minutes of it. The end result was my determination that Hank Jones was “good.” Now that I know he also fucked Marilyn, he is upgraded to “god.”

  6. [re=580711]Way Cool Larry[/re]: [re=580717]23 Skidoo[/re]: [re=580731]seriesoftubescleaner[/re]: Man, women were just shaped differently back in those days. The photos and measurements reported in, say, Playboy magazines constitute and important data set in assessing how cultural/sexual tastes have changed over the years.

    Someday, far in the future, people will look at Megan Fox or whomever and say*, “Why is she so weird-lookin’?”

    * By “say” I actually mean “type on internet poop-blog”.

  7. [re=580708]V572625694[/re]: Perhaps this explains why one of JFK’s squeezes described the sex act as “the most exciting 20 seconds of her life.”

  8. The secret to immortal fame is dying at the right time. If Jon Voight had died right after Midnight Cowboy he’d be in every nostalgia bar next to James Dean instead of the puffy, pasty mess he is now.

  9. [re=580708]V572625694[/re]: Given that JFK had serious back pain most of his adult life to the point that he wore a brace, I’m betting the kinks were a little more low-key and that the ladies did most of the work. But like Vidal, I wasn’t there either, so who knows.

  10. I read somewhere that Jackie totally stayed away from that shindig because she was no fool.

    (And from the factoids I learn by following Ebert, Jackie died on this very day. 1994)

  11. I had never actually watched that — Jesus, what a weird thing that was. Do you think everyone in the room knew they had screwed — is that why their was all the laughing and clapping at random times? And why doeds she flail her arms around with her fists clenched at the end?

  12. [re=580753]Scarab[/re]: Totally. And James Dean would have probably starred in “McMillan and Wife” if he’d lived.

  13. [re=580753]Scarab[/re]: I sort of get the feeling that the same could be said for Al Pacino if he passed away right after “Dog Day Afternoon.” He would have been remembered as an actor known for his remarkable subtlety instead of an easily parodied ham.

  14. Is Marilyn Manson to Obama what Marilyn Monroe was to jFK?
    Intelligent deep thinking Teabaggers need to know.
    Hahaha..I said intelligent & deep thinkers in the same sentence as Teabaggers.
    Oh Hahaha ha.
    and ha.

  15. [re=580753]Scarab[/re]: Just compare the modern Rolling Stones and Who to Morrison, Joplin and Hendrix; they would probably be just as pathetic now had they lived. Case again: Bob Dylan, who’s still putting out new music as good as he ever was.

    Hell, dying relatively young and allegedly pretty made the death one woman, who had no discernible talent and became rich and famous by marrying into an irrelevant anachronistic institution, the biggest funeral spectacle I’ve ever seen; and to this day many still laud her as a great woman, despite her complete lack of accomplishments in life.

  16. I know she was only 36, but that pic makes her look like a little old lady – there’s a decidedly more flattering pic from the same event at the bottom of the her Wikipedia entry.

  17. [re=580791]Capitol Hillbilly[/re]: That one brings back a lot of memories. What a weird little movie probably Clark Gable’s best turn. (Not saying much, I know).

    But by the time the MSG “Happy B-Day” clip was filmed, Marilyn had been a serious alcoholic and junkie for quite some time, not eating right, and the ample acreage of her heinie was probably getting droopy and the dress was just not sewn up the right way, so yeah, it looks all wrong on her.

  18. [re=580842]joementum[/re]: Yes, I find that a bit disturbing…please cut away the cameras while we drag the bag offstage…nothing to see here folks…

  19. Little Known Fact: Arlene Specter carried out the hit on Marilyn Monroe for RFK, as she had JFK’s real birth certificate.

  20. It would be interesting to know whether JFK took that dress off her from the top down or the bottom up. Did Gore Vidal ever say?

  21. [re=580817]JMP[/re]: Don’t think that too many regard her as a great woman, but as an interesting one; who, despite having “no discernible talent[s],” left a major mark on 20th century American culture. Is that right, or wrong? We can discuss, passing electronic notes back and forth on the intertubes.

    Also: Hellooooo, nurse!

  22. According to the interview with the photographer excerpted under the photos at the link, the people there were abuzz about this confirming the rumors of an affair.

    But I question, sadly, whether Ms. Monroe was naked under the dress. The other photo that he took clearly shows panty lines, and for granny panties, no less.

    However, the photo mentioned above at the Wikipedia page shows little evidence of a bra, only pert, beautiful breasts.

    48 years later to the day, I must praise her breasts. And comic talent. RIP.

  23. Wow. I never knew so many people despised MM this way. Up ’till now I thought the conventional thought was she led a kind of tragic life died too young, was depressed/addicted and used by a faceless profit-hungry Hollywood conglomerate of amoral producers and other executives.

    But, I see now that was all because her ass was flat and she had funny looking elbows.

    I suppose the next topic could be: Kitten-Stomping: Messy Time-Waster or Environmentally-Friendly Floor-wax?

  24. About thirty years ago I went to a party at a music producer’s apartment on Central Park West and Hank Jones was there playing the piano while everyone was chatting away. I told Jones I had heard him play at a JATP concert in Europe, in the fifties. I think he liked that. Jazz. Good music, not just entertainment.

  25. Speaking as a guy whose first masturbatory fantasy was Marilyn, all I can say is that she had a fine ass and even finer boobs. God, I miss her!

  26. [re=580753]Scarab[/re]: You forgot “right-wing” in there. Off-the-Mark was having quite the bromance for him when he (O-t-M) was pushing one of those wing nutz’ marches on DC where 20 people showed up.

    And half of those were probably lost tourists.

  27. [re=580801]Cape Clod[/re]: Sorry – his performance at the end of “Donny Brasco” deserved an Academy Award. And what about “Glengarry, Glen Ross?”

  28. [re=581029]Tundra Grifter[/re]: Thanks, Tunny. That was beautiful! I just don’t understand anyone who thinks she’s not gorgeous.

  29. Jesus Christ everybody, would it kill you to get off Marilyn’s ass long enough to pay a few repects to the late, great, irreplacably important American musician, Mr. Hank Jones?! He was smart. He was classy. He was, in a word, jazz.

    Fucking ingrates…

  30. [re=581136]AutomaticPilot[/re]: [re=581076]Extemporanus[/re]: Even without the typos, my comment did come across as rather retarded.

    But seriously you guys, Hank Jones was just really, really good, every day, for more than seventy years: born in turn-of-the-century Mississippi; started performing at age 13 after his family moved to the marginally-less Jim Crow-ish North; played with literally everybody — from Eckstine to Hawkins to Parker to Roach to Sinatra to Carter to Cobb to Krall; had two brothers (Elvin & Thad) who are musical legends in their own right; and married a woman named Theodosia, who was by his side when he died.

    Fucking Theodosia, people!

    Respect.

    Also, “Freebird”.

  31. [re=581147]Extemporanus[/re]: Well, in fairness, he did mar his career somewhat by agreeing to be the house pianist on Hee Haw during the 70s.

  32. Hmm, wait a minute, wait a minute….isn’t it a little suspicious that Hank Jones died on this anniversary? Mafia? CIA? Frank Sinatra,Jr.? I’m guessing one of them!

  33. [re=581156]Mr Blifil[/re]: Hey, it was an honest mistake that could’ve happened to anyone — he searched the world over and thought he found true love, but they met another and *PLHBBBT!* he was arrested, charged, and convicted of first degree sexual assualt for looking at a white woman.

  34. [re=580938]charlesdegoal[/re]: Now that sounds like a good night, even though you had to go to a party held by a music producer.

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