Unique photo of JFK and Marilyn goes on sale

Cecil Stoughton's unseen photo of Marilyn Monroe and JFK

Picture was taken at private party after she sang 'Happy Birthday, Mr President'

BY Jack Bremer LAST UPDATED AT 12:11 ON Wed 2 Jun 2010

Nine prints of a unique photograph showing President John F Kennedy and the actress Marilyn Monroe together in public are to be sold at auction in California. They show the pair at a party in Manhattan on Saturday May 19, 1962 to mark JFK's 45th birthday. It was three months before she died and a year-and-a-half before he was assassinated.

The actress is still wearing the figure-hugging rhinestone-studded dress she had worn on stage at Madison Square Garden earlier the same evening, when she famously cooed 'Happy Birthday, Mr President' to him in front of the TV cameras.

At the time, only a few insiders were aware that the President had been having an affair with the actress.

On the left of the picture is his brother Bobby Kennedy, who also had an affair with her, according to later rumours.

"There is no other known photo of Bobby [Kennedy] with Marilyn or JFK with Marilyn, and it's not because they were never photographed together," said documentary maker Keya Morgan, who is selling the prints. "In fact, they were photographed together many times, but the Secret Service and the FBI confiscated every single photograph."

Morgan bought the prints in 2007 from White House photographer Cecil Stoughton, who had refused to sell them to anyone while the president's widow Jackie Kennedy was still alive. Stoughton knew how touchy she was about her husband's relationship with Marilyn because he was the one who apparently told her that Marilyn was going to be at the celebration. To which Jackie said "Screw Jack", left the room and refused to attend the famous event.

Stoughton, who died in 2008, told Morgan that Secret Service agents had visited him after the birthday party and confiscated all the pictures he had taken of Marilyn with either JFK or Bobby. The photograph now being auctioned eluded the agents because it was still "in the dryer" at the time and they never spotted it.

Stoughton made and signed 10 prints and gave one to Michael Jackson, who was a big Monroe fan. He sold the others to Morgan.

The photograph was taken at a party at the Manhattan home of Arthur Krim, an entertainment lawyer and Democratic Party treasurer.

In the background are the singer Harry Belafonte and the comedian Jack Benny, and in the right foreground is the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr, who was an aide to President Kennedy.

In a journal published in 2007, Schlesinger described seeing Marilyn that evening. "The image of this exquisite, beguiling and desperate girl will always stay with me," he wrote. "I do not think I have seen anyone so beautiful; I was enchanted by her manner and her wit, at once so masked, so ingenuous and so penetrating."

So that explains Schlesinger's broad grin.

The prints are being sold by the Art & Artifact Gallery in West Hollywood, California. · 

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