For Sale: JFK 1962 Birthday Cake

Own a piece of history from the JFK birthday gala.

Up for auction now is a side decoration from the cake served at President John F. Kennedy’s birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, together with a program from the event.

This event was of course the occasion when politics and Hollywood collided as Marilyn Monroe sang the most memorable version ever of “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy.

Starting Bid: $2,500.00

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“Happy Birthday, Mr. President”

John F. Kennedy: JFK Birthday Cake Side Decoration from May 19th, 1962. In remembering John F. Kennedy, we recall pleasant events that took place during the time of “Camelot”: children romping in the Oval Office, touch football games, boating in Hyannis Port, a gracious White House First Lady, press conferences accented by flashes of brilliant humor by the President, the “Rat Pack,” and Hollywood celebrities. One event has truly taken on legendary proportions, namely the birthday party given at Madison Square Garden to celebrate JFK’s 45th birthday. No one can forget sultry Marilyn Monroe in her skin-tight sequined dress singing, or heavily-breathing, a rendition of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”. JFK’s reaction was a mixture of pleasure and embarrassment. Later revelations about a romantic relationship between Monroe and the Kennedy brothers only serve to make the moment more laced with innuendo and emotion. Presidential birthday parties had begun during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency. The tradition was revived for JFK, while the added novelty of an influx of Hollywood celebrities. The party was attended by 15,000 guests and hosted by Jack Benny. Performers included: Robert Merrill, Ella Fitzgerald, Jerome Robbins, Danny Kaye, Henry Fonda, Maria Callas, Peggy Lee, Jimmy Durante, and Bobby Darin. Marilyn Monroe, just a few months shy of her untimely death, was introduced by Peter Lawford, JFK’s brother-in-law.

At the conclusion of her performance, a large birthday cake was carried into the hall. After the party, a police officer, part of a security detail, retrieved the cake side decoration as a souvenir. It has been preserved by his widow for the last forty-eight years. The disc or emblem is decorated with sugar frosting in the design of the Presidential Seal. It measures 10″ in diameter and is 2″ in height, resting upon a thick cardboard foundation. Besides the displayed eagle and constellation of clouds and stars, there are five roses: two large ones at each wing tip and three smaller ones by the claws. The roses have become detached over the years. The color of the frosted decoration is primarily brown, beige, red, blue, and green. As shown, there is some scattered loss around the outer border and the constellation. Overall, the years have been kind to this souvenir of Camelot, but it is fragile and needs to be handled with care. It is sold together with an 8.25″ x 10.5″ program for the event titled “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” (with light soiling and a vertical crease), along with a signed statement by the consignor attesting to the details of its acquisition. It is subject to third party shipping costs and is also available for pickup in our New York City office. Estimate: $5,000 – $10,000.