For decades, rumours of a passionate affair between Marilyn Monroe and President John F. Kennedy have captivated the public’s imagination.
However, a closer examination reveals that the truth behind their relationship is far less sensational than gossip magazines would have you believe.
Both John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe are known for their involvement in extramarital affairs, but the evidence surrounding their specific relationship remains inconclusive.
While Marilyn had been romantically involved whilst she was married and with married men
- Johnny Hyde
- Andre De Dienes
- Elia Kazan
- Arthur Miller
- Yves Montand
JFK’s alleged affairs include women like Mimi Alford, Judith Exner, and Marlene Dietrich, among others. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to consider the varying degrees of evidence supporting these claims before drawing any conclusions.
The Origins of the Affair
The earliest mention of Marilyn’s connection with an “unnamed man” was made by gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen in 1962.
It’s important to note that Marilyn associated with multiple gentlemen during the 1960s including Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio, but these relationships weren’t necessarily romantic or sexual in nature.
Kilgallen’s insinuations about Marilyn’s love affair were never explicitly confirmed in writing, but supposedly she later hinted that the man in question might have been Robert Kennedy, JFK’s brother though this theory remains unproven.
Jean Kennedy Smith, their sister, joked in a letter to Marilyn stating, “Understand that you and Bobby are the new item! We all think you should come with him when he comes back East!”
Jean later stated that the idea of an affair before the letter was auctioned was “utter nonsense.”
The CIA Document
An alleged CIA document, now believed to be a forgery, claimed that Kilgallen obtained information about Marilyn and the Kennedys through her interior decorator friend, Howard Rothberg. However, there is no direct evidence linking Marilyn to the CIA or substantiating the claims made in the document. Experts have deemed it a fake due to its dubious authenticity and sensational language.
1. Rothberg discussed the apparent comeback of subject with Kilgallen and the break up with the Kennedys. Rothberg told Kilgallen that she was attending Hollywood parties hosted by the “inner circle” among Hollywood’s elite and was becoming the talk of the town again. Rothberg indicated in so many words, that she had secrets to tell, no doubt arising from her trists with the President and the Attorney General. One such “secret” mentions the visit by the President at a secret air base for the purpose of inspecting things from outer space. Kilgallen replied that she knew what might be the source of visit. In the mid-fifties Kilgallen learned of secret effort by US and UK governments to identify the origins of crashed spacecraft and dead bodies, from a British government official. Kilgallen believed the story may have come from the New Mexico story in the late forties. Kilgallen said that if the story is true, it would cause terrible embarrassment for Jack and his plans to have NASA put men on the moon.
2. Subject repeatedly called the Attorney General and complained about the way she was being ignored by the President and his brother.
3. Subject threatened to hold a press conference and would tell all.
4. Subject made reference to “bases” in Cuba and knew of the President’s plan to kill Castro.
5. Subject made reference to her “diary of secrets” and what the newspapers would do with such disclosures.
The most significant claims about the affair between Marilyn and JFK emerged in the 1970s through Robert Slatzer, who also claimed he had been romantically involved with Marilyn in the early 1950s.
However, Slatzer’s allegations lack reliable evidence and have been debunked by various sources.
Slatzer’s claims can be examined and scrutinised to understand their lack of credibility:
- Meeting Marilyn in 1946: Slatzer asserts that he met Marilyn in 1946, but there is no concrete proof to support this claim. Without any substantial evidence or documentation, it becomes difficult to validate his alleged connection with Marilyn during that time.
- Marriage claim in Mexico in 1952: Slatzer asserts that he married Marilyn in Mexico in 1952, even though she was dating Joe DiMaggio at the time. However, Marilyn was photographed and reported to be in Los Angeles on the supposed date of their marriage. Moreover, Slatzer fails to provide any documentation or proof of this event, making his claim highly dubious. The only evidence linking Slatzer to Marilyn is some photos taken on the set of the film Niagara. It was common for Marilyn to pose flirtatiously with press, colleagues, photographers and fans so these images don’t prove a romantic relationship.
- Involvement with Marilyn and magazine articles: Slatzer was featured in numerous articles from 1952 to 1957. It is rumoured that Marilyn and her then-husband Arthur Miller were upset by Slatzer’s claims. Given Marilyn’s tendency to cut off people who upset her, it is highly unlikely that she would maintain contact with Slatzer, especially considering the number of articles published about him during that period. Slatzer’s assertion that Marilyn constantly called him and confided in him about the Kennedys lacks credibility and is unsupported by any reliable evidence.
- Allegation of a political conspiracy surrounding Marilyn’s death: In 1972, Slatzer approached journalist Will Fowler with an article claiming that Marilyn’s death was part of a political conspiracy involving JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. Fowler rejected the article, and Slatzer later added the claim that he had been married to Marilyn. However, Fowler refuted Slatzer’s assertions and labelled him as a pretender, emphasising that Slatzer was never married to Marilyn and had only met her once at Niagara Falls.
- Questionable witnesses and lack of corroboration: Slatzer managed to find a witness named Noble Chissell, a former boxer and friend, who claimed to have been present at his supposed wedding to Marilyn. However, Chissell later admitted that he had lied to help Slatzer, motivated by financial difficulties. Slatzer’s ex-wife from 1954 to 1956 also stated that she had never heard of this secret wedding until 1974, twenty years after their marriage. These inconsistencies raise further doubts about Slatzer’s credibility.
- Lack of recognition in Marilyn’s circle: None of the people in Marilyn’s close circle had ever heard of Slatzer until an article was published in Oui magazine in 1974, coinciding with the release of Slatzer’s book. Marilyn’s makeup artist, Allan “Whitey” Snyder, who signed off on a foreword for Slatzer’s book and supported the claims of Marilyn and Slazter’s friendship to Norman Mailer, admitted that he did so out of financial need. There is no evidence of Slatzer’s name in Marilyn’s address book or any correspondence between them. Given Marilyn’s private nature and her value of loyalty in her friendships, it is highly unlikely that she would maintain contact with Slatzer after the damaging Confidential article published in 1957.
His word alone cannot be considered a credible basis for confirming Marilyn and JFK’s relationship.
MARILYN & JFK: A Timeline of Alleged Meetings
Examining the timeline of Marilyn and JFK’s alleged encounters reveals a lack of concrete evidence supporting a substantial affair.
11 April 1957: Marilyn Monroe and her third husband, Arthur Miller, attended the April in Paris Ball at the Waldorf Hotel. Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, were also present among the 1,300 guests. While it’s uncertain if Marilyn met the future president and First Lady, this event marks the first known occasion where they were in the same room.
23 and 24 September 1961: According to biographer Keith Badman, Marilyn and her friend Pat Newcomb were in Hyannis Port with JFK and Jackie on these dates. However, there are conflicting reports regarding Frank Sinatra’s presence. Press accounts mention an “unidentified” couple at the event on 22 September, but White House records indicate that Sinatra was at the White House on 21 September and not necessarily in Hyannis Port.
Sunday, 24 September 1961: On 18 September 1961, Marilyn informed Ralph Roberts that she needed to return to New York for business. On 22 September, she and Ralph flew to NYC, but their plane experienced engine trouble and had to turn back. Marilyn sent a telegram to Joe DiMaggio using a pseudonym, indicating the incident and her plans to fly out again at 5 pm. Although there is no published confirmation of Marilyn’s flight that day or her exact destination, it is more likely that she spent time with Joe and the Strasbergs on the 24 September..
October 1961: Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, Marilyn’s makeup artist, claimed to have accompanied her to a party at Peter and Pat Lawford’s home in Santa Monica, which was supposedly held in honour of President Kennedy. However, it’s important to note that Kennedy did not visit Los Angeles in October 1961, though he attended a dinner there in November 1961. It remains unclear if Marilyn was officially listed as a guest at this event.
18 November 1961: John F. Kennedy delivered a speech at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, leading some to speculate that Marilyn may have met him afterwards. However, on that evening, Marilyn met with photographer Douglas Kirkland to review photo proofs from a previous session. Although Kennedy returned to the Beverly Hills Hotel and briefly attended a dinner there, no guests claim to have seen Marilyn in attendance.
5 December 1961: President Kennedy delivered a speech addressing the National Football Foundation at the Waldorf Astoria. Some suggest Marilyn was present but arrived a couple of hours late due to her hair appointment with Kenneth Battelle. However, there is no press coverage, photographic evidence, or solid proof of her attendance or association with Mr Kenneth on that date. Dr Engleberg’s bill indicates a visit to Marilyn in LA on 4 December, making it unlikely that she flew to NYC and returned before 8 December.
February 1962: According to biographer Donald Spoto, Marilyn’s talent manager, Milton Ebbins, claimed to have escorted her to a fundraiser dinner party at Fifi Fell’s home in February 1962 (often confused with a December fundraiser, despite Marilyn not being in NYC). However, JFK’s diary indicates he was in Virginia throughout the dates Marilyn was purportedly in NYC, making it impossible for them both to have been in attendance.
24 March 1962: Marilyn called Ralph Roberts to inform him that she would be staying at Bing Crosby’s home in Palm Springs on Saturday, 24 March 1962. She also is said to have called Roberts from her room at Palm Springs where the President was also present. While President Kennedy’s movements are not recorded for that day other than him being at the compound, claims by Philip Watson, the Los Angeles county assessor, that Marilyn was with JFK by the pool lack verifiable evidence. From Palm Springs, Marilyn allegedly called Ralph again and put JFK on the phone to discuss a bet about thigh bones. However, the presence of the President at Bing Crosby’s property cannot be verified, as no one was allowed access due to security.
April 1962: There are claims of a dinner party at Fifi Fell’s home in April 1962, but Marilyn spent most of that month in Los Angeles, preparing for the film “Something’s Got To Give.” There is no record of Kennedy being in New York in April 1962, casting doubt on this alleged encounter.
19 May 1962: At Madison Square Garden in New York City, Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy for his upcoming 45th birthday. After the birthday gala, Marilyn and other performers attended an after-party at Arthur Krim’s home, where they mingled with guests such as Maria Callas and Jack Benny. Although Marilyn briefly spoke to the President and Attorney General, there is no photographic evidence of a substantial encounter between Marilyn and the Kennedys. Marilyn later returned to her home after accompanying Isidore back to his Brooklyn residence, where fan James Haspiel claims to have seen her for the last time.
Based on the available evidence and a critical examination of the alleged affair between Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy, it appears that their relationship, if any, was not as dramatic as often portrayed. The most credible account suggests a one-night stand in Palm Springs, while other dates can be debunked with facts and logical analysis. Ultimately, the truth remains elusive, and it is important to approach these claims with skepticism and a focus on substantiated evidence. Marilyn and JFK’s connection, if it existed, was likely fleeting and far less scandalous than the rumors would suggest.
Note: This article solely focuses on Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy’s “relationship” and does not delve into the theories surrounding Marilyn’s death.