Remembering Marilyn at Madison Square Garden

84-year-old Patricia Brooke of Abbotsford, Vancouver has recalled the night of May 19, 1962, when she watched Marilyn sing ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ at Madison Square Garden, NYC, in an interview with the Agassiz-Harrison Observer.

“That day was a hot one, Brooke says, but as she travelled the subway with her friend, the rain poured down and cooled the New York air. It was an hour-long ride, she said, and the temperature dropped nicely by the time they arrived.

‘When she came out, they weren’t even expecting her, and there she was,’ Brooke says. The program doesn’t list Marilyn as a performer, just the ‘Happy Birthday’ song … ‘She was in a skin-tight dress, and everyone was screaming and yelling,” Brooke says. ‘It was just so much fun, she came out singing’ … Brooke said she remembers her voice was lovely, and she was in tune.

It was quite by chance that Brooke ended up in the Gardens that night. She was working at a New York hospital in admitting. She was covering someone’s night shift when a drunken man arrived to check himself in. It hadn’t been his first time doing so, and as a man with money, he wanted a private room. None were available, so he paid for a shared room with two beds.

Brooke recalls he was carrying a watermelon, his friend. When no nurse was available to take him to his room, Brooke was told to take him. She tucked him in one bed, and the watermelon in another.

The man somehow remembered her good humour and kindness, and returned four or five days later to thank her. He explained he was a music promoter and gave her six tickets for the May 19 fundraiser birthday party. She managed to find two more people to go, and she has hung onto one unused ticket for years.”