Marilyn Monroe 'Happy Birthday Mr President' lock of hair
- A large lock of Marilyn Monroe's hair, from the night she performed 'Happy Birthday Mr President' for John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden.
- Accompanied by an instant photograph taken at the same event, bearing Monroe's lipstick kiss on the reverse.
Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) is the most iconic female star in Hollywood history.
Having started her career as a model, Monroe made a name for herself as a star of musicals and comedies including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot.
But along with her role as an international sex symbol, Monroe also took her craft seriously and studied method acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio.
Away from the silver screen, Monroe lived a turbulent personal life, including failed marriages to baseball star Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, and battles with depression, anxiety and addiction.
These battles finally took their toll in August 1962, when she tragically died as the result of a barbiturates overdose at the age of 36.
Today, more than 50 years after her death, Monroe's stunning beauty, supreme talent and intense personal demons continue to fascinate fans around the world.
History of the lock of hair
On the night of May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe gave one of the most famous performances of her career, during a celebration for President John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Monroe sang a sultry version of 'Happy Birthday Mr President' whilst wearing a virtually see-through dress, fuelling rumours of a secret affair with the President which have endured to this day.
Just hours before her performance, Monroe visited her personal hairdresser Robert Champion at the Coiffures Americana Beauty Salon, housed within the luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue.
After he had cut and styled her hair, Monroe asked Champion to attend the event with her, so that he could touch up her hair and make-up just before she went on-stage.
Upon her arrival at Madison Square Garden, Monroe was presented with her outfit for the evening. Designed by Jean Louis, the highly revealing, flesh-coloured dress was covered in thousands of rhinestones, and was so tight Monroe had to be sewn into it, delaying her stage entrance.
Robert Champion recalled those moments before her performance:
"As we stood for a long time back stage at Madison Square Garden, she was very nervous about her appearance. I refreshed her lipcolor, powdered her nose, checked her blusher, and then she was announced again 'Miss Marilyn Monroe, better late than never.' In her very tight gown, she had difficulty ascending the make-shift stairs and I assisted her to the top where the spotlight hit her. The next is history."
This large lock of blonde hair was trimmed from Monroe's head by Champion just prior to that iconic performance, and remained in his personal collection for decades.
The lock measures approximately 2.57" by 1.18" (7cm by 3cm).
It is accompanied by an instant Polaroid photograph of Monroe, taken at a party following the event.
The image captures Monroe smiling radiantly, perhaps in relief after getting through the performance, and bears her lipstick print in place of a signature on the reverse.
Together, these two items represent a unique opportunity to own a part of cultural history, and an intimate piece of the most famous woman of the 20th century.
Huge prices for Monroe memorabilia
For collectors, Marilyn Monroe remains the most sought-after of any star in Hollywood history, and her personal memorabilia regularly sells for seven-figure sums.
In December 2016, the dress worn by Monroe during her performance of 'Happy Birthday' sold at Julien's Auctions for $4.8 million, making it the second-most valuable dress ever sold.
The record is held by the famous white dress she wore in The Seven Year Itch, which sold in 2011 for $5.6 million.
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