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JFK 99 Years

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Every May 29th, it hits me what we were robbed of -- a few more good years of John Kennedy's great humor. Forget Aristophanes, Swift, Rabelais. JFK was the funniest, wittiest man who ever lived. Sure, it was a sharp, dry, biting humor. But it was also kind and gentle and defusing.

When Joe, Sr. railed at one of the Kennedy girls for her excessive spending, I mean he went on about it, at a family gathering in front of the whole family. She ran off howling, and she was a tough young lady. When she came back, unknown to everyone, Jack had the anodyne ready: "Don't worry. Everything's fine. It's been settled. We've all decided that Dad will just have to work harder."

May 19, 1962, President K's birthday party at Madison Square Garden, are you kidding me?! Peter Lawford introduced the one and only Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunately, she wasn't entirely ready in her skin-tight, flesh-toned gown. He tried to drag it out. A few false starts from the band. Very unfortunately, when she finally appeared, Lawford called her "the late Marilyn Monroe." She was to be dead in less than three months, the day after Dorothy Kilgallen ran a column about her having an affair with a man "in the highest places." Supposedly, that was J Edna Hoover's job security for a while.

Miss Monroe's performance is one for the ages. First, a breathless, almost inaudible, perhaps off-key verse of "Happy Birthday." Then right into a very powerful, on-key rendition of "Thank You, Mr. President" to the tune of "Thanks for the Memories." Then she forced the whole joint into a sing-along of the end of Happy B-day. They went nuts.

How do you follow that? "I got a telegram tonight which said that, uh, as part of your birthday, I believe you should get a rise in pay. Signed, Roger." [Howls of laughter, but that's not enough} "And then it said: P.S. My birthday is next month." Everyone in the audience knew it was Roger Blough, President of U. S. Steel, whom JFK had just stood down over price increases. That was the planned joke.

Then a short, sweet off-the-cuff finish: "We're going from then (?) to Bobby Darin to Miss Carol to Miss Monroe, who left a picture to come all the way east. And I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome manner."

From The Kennedy Wit, compiled by Bill Adler, p. 29: On a trip to the West Coast, President Kennedy was asked by a little boy, "Mr. President, how did you become a war hero?" "It was absolutely involuntary. They sank my boat." Brevity, modesty, soul, wit.

There will never be another one like him.

Edited by Roy Wieselquist
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In case anyone hasn't seen the video of Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to JFK at Madison Square Garden 5-19-1962, here it is,

courtesy of Ronnie Wayne at JFK Facts:


Edited by Roy Wieselquist
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