Marilyn Monroe and Washington, DC

I recently traveled to Washington, DC for vacation, and visits to museums, monuments and even walking down the streets of the US capitol provided associations to Marilyn in varying ways. From Abraham Lincoln to Emilio Pucci, Marilyn’s connection to Washington is evident.

Marilyn Monroe & President Abraham Lincoln

It’s well known that Marilyn was a fan of Abraham Lincoln. From The Marilyn Encyclopedia:

The 16th president of the United States, the man who led the Union to victory in the American Civil War and abolished slavery was a hero to Marilyn ever since she wrote an essay on him in Junior High School.

Soon after meeting Arthur Miller in 1950, Marilyn wrote a letter in which she confessed “Most people can admire their fathers, but I never had one. I need someone to admire.” Miller wrote back “If you want someone to admire, why not Abraham Lincoln?” Marilyn went out and bought a large framed portrait and a biography written by Carl Sanburg, with whom she later became friends.

She reputedly also kept a copy of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for inspiration. On screen in Bus Stop (1956), Don Murray, playing country boy Bo Decker, tries to get Marilyn to become “attracted to his mind” by reciting her the Gettysburg Address.

For years, Marilyn gave her framed photo of Lincoln pride of place in her homes at Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills, at the Waldorf-Astoria suite in New York and later in a smaller version on her nightstand at the East 57th street apartment she shared with Arthur Miller.

More than one biographer has asserted that until the relationship soured, Marilyn identified Arthur with Lincoln. She saw both of them as honorable men, committed to their principles, erudite, and cultured.

In 1955, accompanied by photographer Eve Arnold, Marilyn was invited to officially open a Lincoln museum in the town of Bement, Illinois.

The following items are currently on exhibit at The National Museum of American History:

President Lincoln’s Top Hat

At six feet four inches tall, Lincoln towered over most of his contemporaries. He chose to stand out even more by wearing high top hats. He acquired this hat from J. Y. Davis, a Washington hat maker. Lincoln had the black silk mourning band added in remembrance of his son Willie. The last time he wore this top hat was to go to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865.

Mill’s Mask of Lincoln

On February 11, 1865, about two months before his death, Lincoln permitted sculptor Clark Mills to make this life mask of his face. This was the second and last life mask made of Lincoln.

Clothing owned by President Lincoln and First Lady Mary Lincoln

A suit owned by the President and a purple velvet gown owned by the First Lady.

The Lincoln Memorial

I took the following photos at the Lincoln Memorial, located at the west end of the National Mall:

Marilyn Monroe, The White House, and Jackie Kennedy

The White House

Marilyn Monroe’s phone records, dated August 1, 1962, show several calls were made during the last weeks of her life from her home in Brentwood to Washington, DC. The calls lasted less than five minutes. Could she have been trying to reach President John F. Kennedy at the White House?

First Lady Jackie Kennedy

It’s widely believed that Marilyn had affairs with President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Even press articles from 1962 hint at an affair between the President and Hollywood’s reigning queen. If this was actually the case, then Marilyn Monroe would have been “the other woman” to First Lady Jackie Kennedy.

On exhibit at the The National Museum of American History is Jackie Kennedy’s inaugural gown, which she actually designed herself. It was made by Ethel Frankau at Bergdorf Goodman. The gown is off-white, sleeveless, and made of silk chiffon with a beaded overblouse and a floor-sweeping cape.

Marilyn Monroe & Pucci

The bright colors and easy fashions of the house of Pucci were a favorite of Marilyn’s. She had an entire wardrobe of Pucci clothing and was photographed many times in the late 50s and early 60s wearing the brand. Below, Marilyn wears a lime green Pucci blouse as she rehearses her now famous rendition of “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” performed for John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962.

On exhibit at The National Air and Space Museum is this Braniff Airways Stewardess uniform from 1965, an original Pucci design.

One of the first airlines to adopt new styles, Braniff Airways hired noted fashion designer Emilio Pucci to create a new line of flight attendant uniforms. Pucci designed several outfits with bold, brash colors, including this uniform.

Marilyn Spotting

What trip would be complete without a Marilyn spotting in a local shop or boutique?

I took this shot of an art piece featuring Marilyn as I walked through the streets of Washington.