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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK


Viewing Monroe's birthday suit

Marilyn Monroe: Left all her belongings to Lee Strasberg

Marilyn Monroe's famous rendition of Happy Birthday to US President John F Kennedy would not have been the same without her dazzling dress.

The revealing flesh-coloured gown has been coveted and drooled over by fans and Monroe impersonators ever since.

[ image: The revealing silk beaded dress Monroe wore to serenade a president]
The revealing silk beaded dress Monroe wore to serenade a president
Now the outfit, along with more than 1,000 of the screen idol's other possessions, has gone on display at Christie's in New York, before being sold at auction in October.

The whole collection, including gowns, scripts, furniture, jewellery, furs, photographs and awards, will go on to Los Angeles, London and Paris for further previews, before returning to New York for the sale.

As the story goes, Marilyn Monroe had literally to be sewn into the tight-fitting silk gown, on which French designer Jean Louis embroidered 6,000 beads, before her presidential performance.

And now, as one of the most memorable pieces in her wardrobe, Christie's in New York estimate it could fetch as much as $1m (628,500).

[ image: The collection includes many more of Monroe's clothes]
The collection includes many more of Monroe's clothes
But despite the star quality of the dress alone, the rest of the belongings in the collection are also worth a look, as they give an insight into both the professional and personal Monroe.

Monroe, who died on 5 August 1962, left all her belongings to her acting coach and mentor, Lee Strasberg.

Strasberg died in 1982 and the collection, which has been in storage for nearly 40 years, is being sold by his widow, Anna.

It includes many of the clothes the actress wore in her best-known movies, as well as the black crepe dress in which she entertained the troops in Korea in 1954.

There are household items, including a lamp and turkey baster, which Monroe bought for the home she never managed to establish with either of her last two husbands, the baseball star Joe DiMaggio and the playwright Arthur Miller.

[ image: Monroe dreamt of setting up home with Joe DiMaggio]
Monroe dreamt of setting up home with Joe DiMaggio
Alongside some of the more mundane items, there are also signed books from artists and writers, as well as film scripts she had annotated.

The exhibition will be move to Los Angeles in August before coming to London from 19 to 22 September.

Paris is the next stop from 5 to 7 October before it returns to New York for the sale on 27 and 28 October, which Christie's say could fetch up to $4m (2.5m).

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