When Marilyn met Khrushchev

In 1959, Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union, visited America. It was the Cold War.

During the tour, which was as much a holiday as anything else, he visited the Hollywood studios of 20th Century Fox where he was honoured with a banquet luncheon attended by many stars. The one star he specifically requested to meet was Marilyn Monroe. She wore a black cocktail dress. She was 33 years old.

“We the workers of 20th Century Fox rejoice that you have come to visit our studio and country,” she said to him in Russian. Natalie Wood had taught her the line. Natalie Wood was born Natalia Zacharenko, in San Francisco, to Russian immigrant parents.

“I’m very Russian, you know,” Natalie once said.

Reports described Khrushchev as “mesmerised” by Marilyn.

“You’re a very lovely young lady,” he told her while squeezing her hand.

Afterwards, Marilyn said, “He looked at me the way a man looks on a woman.”

She told the news cameras: “This is the biggest day in the history of the movie business.” But later, reportedly, she told her maid, “He was fat and ugly and had warts on his face and he growled. He squeezed my hand so long and so hard that I thought he would break it. I guess it was better than having to kiss him.”

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