An ill-fated romance

The legendary Marilyn Monroe

IT is a story filled with intrigue – a piece of Manhattan real estate known as The Carlyle – a hotel that would become a meeting a point for a pair of illicit lovers.

While hotels have always been prime locations for romantic trysts, in this case there was a lot at stake.

One half of the pair was American President John F. Kennedy, the other half was movie star Marilyn Monroe. writer Olga Leleka looks at the hotel where it all began.

In February 1962 The Carlyle on Manhattan gathered the best of Hollywood’s stars alongside the most-powerful in American politics for a dinner with President John F. Kennedy.

Among all the guests, only one dared to keep Kennedy waiting.

An hour had passed and Marilyn Monroe was still sitting at her dressing-table, finishing her make-up.

Monroe used to state that if somebody waits for you, he already loves you – these words would prove prophetic for her.

Her eventual entrance brought the audience to a standstill.

The actress Arlene Dahl, who was also at that party, said: “Marilyn walked in and everything stopped, everyone stopped. It was magical, really. I’ve never seen anyone stop a room like that”.

Kennedy was immediately attracted to the blonde actress and after the party invited her to join him in Palm Springs on March, 24.

But, things developed more rapidly and Kennedy and Monroe were soon spending hours at their secret haunt at The Carlyle.

President John F. Kennedy

Kennedy owned a residence at this hotel and soon it gained fame as the “New York White House”.

The hotel’s staff was accustomed to the goals of Kennedy’s visits to the hotel.

Even though he always entered alone, Miss Monroe joined him in his apartment through the secret tunnels.

With the passing of time the longtime bellman Michael O’Connell reported “Those tunnels…President Kennedy knew more about the tunnels than I did”.

Those tunnels were used by Monroe on May 19, 1962 right after she played an official part of Kennedy’s birthday.

Again making Kennedy wait, the “late Marilyn Monroe” as she was introduced to the audience, finally sang with her sultry voice the famous “Happy Birthday, Mr.President” at Madison Square Garden.

“I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way,” Kennedy said afterwards.

Her introduction as the “late Marilyn Monroe” was, perhaps a bad omen, the appearance was her last in public and that evening could have marked the beginning of the end for the actress.

After the birthday party Kennedy brought Monroe to his residence at The Carlyle to break up their relationship.

Still her obsession with the President continued and Monroe allegedly turned to Kennedy’s brother Bobby and increasingly to alcohol and drugs.

Less than three months later, on August 5, 1962 Marilyn Monroe would be pronounced dead at age 36.

The cause was said to be from an overdose of sleeping pills in her bedroom.

In a few days the investigation would conclude suicide as the cause of her death, but with the passing of time questions have been raised about this ruling.

Even now Hollywood questions the circumstances of her death and forgets the fact that Monroe was a complex woman and someone more than a sex symbol.

In her words; “sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing”.

Ironically, Monroe’s first husband James Dougherty, was the first to state the question of Monroe’s death in terms of her own personal struggles.

He never knew the woman who died in August, 1962, because “I never knew Marilyn Monroe…I knew Norma Jean. They were completely different”.

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