Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. —
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, decisions made by President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev could have plunged both countries into thermonuclear war.
But the 45-year-old president was preoccupied with 19-year-old White House aide Mimi Beardsley Alford, according to her memoir “Once Upon a Secret.”
Secret Service agents assigned to Kennedy’s detail say that his affair with Alford was just the tip of the iceberg.
As revealed in my book “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect
,” agents assigned to Kennedy’s detail soon learned that he led a double life.
He was the charismatic leader of the free world. But in his other life, he was the cheating, reckless husband whose aides snuck women into the White House to appease his sexual appetite.
Former agent Robert Lutz remembers a gorgeous Swedish Pan Am flight attendant who was on the press plane following Kennedy on Air Force One. She seemed to take a liking to Lutz, and he planned to invite her out to dinner. The detail leader noticed that they were getting chummy and told the agent to stay away.
“She’s part of the president’s private stock,” he warned Lutz.
Besides one-night stands, Kennedy had several consorts within the White House. Besides Alford, whose book came out on Feb. 8, one was Pamela Turnure, who had been Kennedy’s secretary when he was a senator and then became Jacqueline Kennedy’s press secretary in the White House.
Two others, Priscilla Wear and Jill Cowen, were secretaries who were known, respectively, as Fiddle and Faddle. Wear already had the nickname Fiddle when she joined the White House staff, so Kennedy aides applied the name Faddle to Cowen.
“Neither did much work,” says former agent Larry Newman, who was on the Kennedy detail.
When I interviewed Cowen some years back in her New York apartment, she would neither admit nor deny the affair. She pointed out that Kennedy’s women had remained loyal to him up to that point, and she said she was not going to be the first one to break silence. An art historian, Cowen died of brain cancer in 2003.
One afternoon, Kennedy was cavorting in the White House pool with young women when Secret Service agents on Jackie’s detail radioed that she was returning unexpectedly to the White House.
“Jackie was expected back in 10 minutes, and JFK came charging out of the pool,” says agent Anthony Sherman, who was on his detail at the time. “He had a bathing suit on and a Bloody Mary in his hand.”
Kennedy looked around and gave the drink to Sherman. “Enjoy it, it’s quite good,” the president said.
According to Secret Service agents, Kennedy had sex with Marilyn Monroe at New York hotels and in a loft above the Justice Department office of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s brother.
Between the fifth and sixth floors, the loft contains a double bed that is used when the attorney general needs to stay overnight to handle crises. Its proximity to a private elevator made it easy for Kennedy and Monroe to enter from the Justice Department basement without being noticed.
“He [Kennedy] had liaisons with Marilyn Monroe there,” a Secret Service agent says. “The Secret Service knew about it.”
Kennedy was following the example of his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, who served as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. ambassador in London.
Like his son Jack, Joe Kennedy mesmerized the press. Until his death in 1969 at the age of 81, Joe would be described in print as a Horatio Alger hero and chaste Roman Catholic, a man who had risen from the home of a saloon keeper in east Boston to become one of the richest men in America.
Usually, Joe Kennedy would be pictured with his wife Rose and one or more of his nine children. The pictures never showed his well-sculpted, green-eyed Hyannis Port secretary, Janet Des Rosiers. As disclosed in my book “The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded
,” she was his mistress for nine years.
Des Rosiers — now Janet Fontaine — concluded that Joe’s wife Rose was aware of Joe’s affair with her and others such as actress Gloria Swanson. She decided that Rose not only tolerated Joe’s philandering but approved of it, since it took pressure off her.
“She must have known I was around all the time and not unattractive,” Des Rosiers told me. “I used to massage Joe’s scalp and neck with Rose in the living room.”
Eventually, Des Rosiers left Joe. She became the stewardess on JFK’s campaign plane and eventually served as one of his secretaries in the White House.
On the plane, Des Rosiers often massaged Jack’s feet and hands behind closed doors. He had made a pass at her, giving her a printed napkin that said, “Don’t you think it’s about time you found me attractive?”
Des Rosiers was not interested.
“A lot of my friends said, ‘Why don’t you get a Kennedy boy?’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t marry one of them for anything.’ I wasn’t impressed by their wealth. They didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t want to be in that group.”
JFK’s recklessness eventually contributed to his death. Despite warnings of violence in Dallas, he refused to let Secret Service agents ride on the rear running board of his limousine in the motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963.
Since the “kill shot” to the president’s head came 4.9 seconds after the first shot that hit him, Secret Service agents would have had a chance to protect him.
“If agents had been allowed on the rear running boards, they would have pushed the president down and jumped on him to protect him before the fatal shot,” former agent Taylor tells me.
Confirming that, Secret Service Director Lewis Merletti later said, “An analysis of the ensuing assassination — including the trajectory of the bullets which struck the president — indicates that it might have been thwarted had agents been stationed on the car’s running boards.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.
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