World's most expensive dress on display at Branson's Ripley's Believe It or Not

Published: Apr. 19, 2018 at 6:29 PM CDT
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The next time your husband complains about you buying an expensive dress, tell him about this.

Located along the Highway 76 strip, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum has a lot of interesting sites from a 10-foot gorilla's head made out of recycled car tires to the world's largest ball of string (made in Branson) to the world's largest roll of toilet paper (Charmin).

But the newest addition to the museum on display until June 10th is the sheer dress that Marilyn Monroe wore in the most famous "Happy Birthday" rendition of all time.

It was May 19, 1962 at Madison Square Garden on President John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday. Marilyn bought the dress for just over $1,400, but when Ripley's Believe It or Not purchased it at auction two years ago, they paid $5-million.

"It's a Guinness World Record for the most expensive dress ever purchased at auction," explained Suzanne Smagala, the public relations manager for Ripley's Believe It or Not.

The dress has over 6,000 sequins and was extraordinarily tight. So tight that Marilyn had to be sewn into it.

"She missed her curtain call twice," Smagala said. "Peter Lawford was introducing her and you think it's a bit because of how great Lawford was to wing it right then. But she was getting sewn into the dress backstage and that's why she missed her curtain call twice."

There were many other stars on the bill that night at Madison Square Garden from Jack Benny to Henry Fonda, but the 16,000 in attendance that night remembered one performance above them all.


And that dress that turned heads.

Heather Chaney also turns heads as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. Appearing at the exhibits opening, she works at Universal Studios in Florida and says impersonating the icon is all in the eyes and lips.

"You have to be a good flirt," she said of capturing Monroe's spirit. "And being able to find the fine line between being vulnerable and sexy because I feel like Marilyn encapsulated both of those. There was Marilyn the person and the Marilyn who was on-screen. And I feel like they were two very different people."

While much has been made of an alleged affair between Monroe and JFK, both historic figures had their lives cut short. Monroe died just three months after the appearance at Kennedy's birthday bash. And JFK was assassinated the following year.

But the famous dress lives on.

At least for now, in Branson.