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Marilyn Monroe and JFK – The Affair That Never Happened… Or Did It?

Since the 1970s the rumour that Marilyn Monroe and President John F Kennedy had a wild and passionate affair has plagued Marilyn historians’ lives. But did it happen? Well, not the way gossip magazines like to tell it…

Note: This post will solely discuss Marilyn and JFK’s “relationship” and not the theories surrounding her death. For that, please read here.


A REPUTATION

John F Kennedy is well known for his extra-marital relations but Marilyn is arguably the most famous, despite it not being officially confirmed.

Marilyn herself had slept/had relationships with married men in her time (Johnny Hyde, Andre De Dienes, Arthur Miller to name a few), one of which was when she herself was married (with Yves Montand). As well as Marilyn Monroe, JFK is believed to have had affairs with :

  • Mimi Alford (White House Intern)
  • Judith Exner
  • Blaze Starr (stripper)
  • Marlene Dietrich (actress)
  • Anita Eckberg (actress)
  • Ellen Rometsch (call girl)
  • Mary Meyer (CIA agent ex-wife)
  • Priscilla Wear and Jill Cowen (White House Secretaries)

Can these be confirmed? Well, some have more evidence than others. Which is an important thing to consider when making such claims.


WHEN AND WHERE DID THE KENNEDY/MONROE AFFAIR RUMOURS START?

A ‘HANDSOME GENTLEMAN’

In 1962, Dorothy Kilgallen alluded that Marilyn was spending time with an unnamed man.

Now, it’s important to note Marilyn was spending time with multiple gentlemen in the 1960s, but that doesn’t mean they were all sexual. According to Mimosa by Ralph Roberts, Marilyn and her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio had agreed to see each other and, if they so wished, date others. So, since her divorce from Arthur Miller, it can be confirmed Marilyn spent time with Joe, Frank Sinatra, Jose Bolanos (at the Golden Globes) and, almost definitely, John F Kennedy. But how serious was this “love affair” and how often did it take place?

Well, Dorothy believed she had the scoop…

It could be a Kennedy brother or maybe even Frank Sinatra, although that story was old news in 1961. This name is never confirmed in print. Dorothy did later tell friends that it was in reference to Robert Kennedy although that theory is never proven. Robert’s sister even wrote to Marilyn joking about how they were “now an item!”

In 1994, Jean Kennedy Smith addressed the letter before it went to auction stating to New York Post “The suggestion that the letter verifies an affair is utter nonsense. I am shocked anyone would believe such innuendo about a letter obviously written in jest.”

But Bobby deserves his own post.

So, how did the infamous gossip columnist, who is known for both raising and trashing Marilyn’s name, find out this juicy information?

“CIA” DOCUMENT

According to an alleged CIA document (now believed to be a forgery*), Kilgallen received this intel via her interior decorator friend, Howard Rothberg who had no direct link to Marilyn. The unauthenticated document states that Kilgallen’s conversations had been wiretapped, that the Kennedy brothers had “broken up” with Marilyn, and that she “had secrets to tell” such as UFOs in Roswell…

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.

Dorothy Kilgallen herself since has been a victim of conspiracy theories surrounding her death which officially was due to a cocktail of alcohol and barbiturates.

BOB SLATZER – A SECRET HUSBAND AND CONFIDANT

The real affair claims between Marilyn and JFK began a decade after Marilyn and JFK had died. The source for this affair came from Robert Slatzer, who had been featured in a column by Dorothy in 1952 regarding his “romance” with Marilyn who was dating baseball legend Joe Dimaggio at the time.

Slatzer met Marilyn once during her filming of Niagara in 1952.

These letters and phone calls mentioned in the article have never been documented or publicised, nor was he present in any of her telephone books, something Marilyn used constantly. If you weren’t in her phone book, you weren’t in her life.

His name came up again in 1957, stating he and Marilyn were intimate in 1952 (no mention of marriage). If this very private woman was aware of this blabber mouth’s existence, he certainly would not be a friend to her by 1962. Needless to say, his allegations have been debunked and dismissed.

In his 1973 book, The Mysterious Death of Marilyn Monroe, Slatzer mentions that Marilyn had an affair with the President, was passed to his brother and was soon dumped by him. The evidence for this is Slatzer’s word and nothing else which have previously been proven to be unreliable.

Despite Robert Dallek’s biography of John F. Kennedy stating gossip columns were discussing an affair (which apparently the President wanted to be quashed), there is no record of this (that I have yet to come across). The rumours were predominantly regarding his younger brother (again, never confirmed with viable evidence) and the JFK/Monroe affair only really started in the 1970s.

*Due to the printing quality, and being “over the top” with the use of TOP SECRET and experts have said documents like this are attempting to seem official and are easy to forge, it’s believed this document is utterly fake.


MARILYN & JFK, A TIMELINE OF MEETINGS
RUMOURED AND CONFIRMED

11 April 1957

Marilyn and her third husband Arthur Miller attended the April in Paris Ball at the Waldorf Hotel. Also present were Senator John F Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline. It’s unclear if Marilyn met the future president and First Lady, but the couples were among the 1,300 guests. This is the first event that can place Marilyn and JFK in the same room.


23 and 24 September 1961

Biographer Keith Badman believes Marilyn and Pat Newcomb were at Hyannis Port with JFK and Jackie on these dates.

According to the press, Frank Sinatra and an “unidentified” couple were in attendance on 22 September. But according to the JFK archives, Frank Sinatra was present at the White House on Thursday 21 September. There’s no note of him being at Hyannis Port on the White House records.

Sunday, 24 September 1961

On 18 September 1961, Marilyn said to Ralph Roberts she needed to return to New York for some business. On Friday 22 September 1961, Marilyn and Ralph flew at 1:30 pm to NYC. The plane had experienced engine trouble and had to turn back. She sent Joe DiMaggio this telegram using a pseudonym:

“Dear Dad Darling, airplane developed engine trouble plus all oil ran out of same plane so we had to turn back and land back in LA. Leaving again on another plane at 5pm arrive New York 1pm. When plane was in trouble I thought about two things, you and changing my will. Love you I think, more then ever. -Mrs. Norman.“

Marilyn was due to arrive at Idlewild at 1 pm NY time, and, according to Ralph, they travelled directly to the Lexington Hotel where Joe was living at the time. This means Marilyn could not have been with Frank Sinatra (although he wasn’t listed on the President’s records, so even he may not have been there).

It’s been noted by some biographers that Marilyn met with WJ Weatherby this weekend. However, the way the Conversations with Marilyn is written, it appears Marilyn and Weatherby were reacquainted in November 1960 (due to the mention of the election), not September 1961. Of course, his book also says Marilyn admitted to having an affair with a famous, married Washington politician. Weatherby’s book was first published in 1976 – and what better tale than the one where Marilyn Monroe confides in you that you’re sleeping with a Kennedy? Or both!

Back to the dates… Could she have left Joe the following day and flown from Idlewild to Massachusetts? Possibly. Although, there is no published confirmation that Marilyn flew that day or where she flew back to (tickets, being spotted by fans, photographs etc.) but it’s far more likely she spent time with Joe and the Strasbergs.


October 1961

According to Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, he took Marilyn to the home of Peter and Pat Lawford (sister to John F Kennedy) where they held a party at their Santa Monica home in honour of President Kennedy. Even so, Kennedy did not visit Los Angeles in October 1961. He did attend a dinner in November 1961, Marilyn may not have been listed officially as a guest.


18 November 1961

18 November 1961

Kennedy gave a speech at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and some have suspected Marilyn met him after. But that evening, Douglas Kirkland met Marilyn to show her photo proofs of his photos taken the day before.

JFK was also recorded as having returned to Beverley Hills Hotel at 10:35 pm before he dropped in on a dinner being held at the hotel where 700 guests were present. None of the guests claims to have seen Marilyn.


5 December 1961

John F Kennedy gave a speech addressing the National Football Foundation at the Waldorf Astoria. Some say Marilyn was in attendance but was a couple of hours late due to her having her hair done by Kenneth Battelle. However, there seems to be no press coverage or images of her being there nor proof she was with Mr Kenneth on that date.

According to Dr Engleberg’s bill, he visited Marilyn in LA on 4 December (maybe Marilyn flew to NYC and returned before 8 December but unlikely)

Some believe there was a dinner party held at the home of Fifi Fell after the Waldorf Astoria conference but the President had left the Waldorf and gone straight to the Carlyle Hotel.


February 1962

According to Donald Spoto, in February 1962 (between 3 and 7*), Marilyn’s talent manager Milton Ebbins stated he escorted Marilyn to the home of Fifi Fell, where a fundraiser dinner party was held (often confused with a December fundraiser despite Marilyn not being in NYC). Ebbins also stated he took her home.

JFK’s diary shows that he was in Virginia on all the dates Marilyn was in NYC and therefore they both couldn’t have been in attendance.

*Marilyn is placed in LA on 1 February and begins moving into her Brentwood home 8 February. Most other dates in February can be accounted for.


24 March 1962

Marilyn called Ralph Roberts to tell him she was going to be staying at Bing Crosby’s home in Palm Springs (previously the venue had been at Frank Sinatra’s home but was changed for security) on Saturday 24 March 1962.

24 March 1962

That day, from midday the President’s movements, are not recorded.

Philip Watson the Los Angeles county assessor told Anthony Summers that Marilyn had been with JFK by the pool and it was clear they were enjoying their time together. However, his presence there cannot be verified.

From Palm Springs Marilyn apparently called Ralph again and put JFK on the phone to discuss a bet Marilyn had with him regarding thigh bones.

A familar man’s voice, “Hello.”

I answered, “Hello. The thigh bone is connected, as the song goes, to the hipbone. But not toward the outside of the body, but it articulates with the pelvic bone, well near the center.”

A laugh, “Well, I take your word. She speaks highly of you.”

Mimosa, Ralph Roberts

She later told Ralph how she had given the President a massage with Ralph later telling Donald Spoto, “Marilyn told me that this night in March was the only time of her “affair” with JFK. A great many people thought, after that weekend, that there was more to it. But Marilyn gave me the impression that it was not a major event for either of them: it happened once, that weekend, and that was that.” Ralph also said that “She asked me about the solus muscle which she knew something about from the Mabel Ellsworth Todd book [The Thinking Body], and she had obviously been talking about this with the president, who was known to have all sorts of ailments, muscle and back trouble.”

Susan Strasberg, friend and daughter of Lee and Paula Strasberg, stated that Marilyn felt it was “okay to sleep with a charismatic president – and she loved the secrecy and drama of it. But he certainly wasn’t the kind of man she wanted for life and she was very clear about this.”

In 1976, American Secret Service Agent Floyd Boring was interviewed by Bill Hartigan, who denies this happened as no one was allowed at the property.


April 1962

The dinner party at Fifi Fell’s home has also been dated to April 1962 but Marilyn had spent most of that month Los Angeles preparing for Something’s Got To Give. There is also no record of Kennedy being in New York in April 1962.


19 May 1962

Actress Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, for his upcoming 45th birthday.

After the birthday gala held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Marilyn and the other performers attended the home of Arthur Krim where an after-party celebration was held. This meeting is the only one in which Marilyn and the Kennedys are photographed. Present with her ex-father-in-law Isidore Miller and Pat Newcomb, Marilyn met with other guests such as Maria Callas and very briefly spoke to the President and Attorney General. After seeing Diahann Carroll sing, Marilyn took Isidore back to his Brooklyn home in the early hours of the morning before returning to her own home, where James Haspiel claims he saw her for the last time.


Luckily for Marilyn fans and researchers, we are able to pinpoint where she was on many of the dates claimed, or at least where JFK was based on the fact that most of his movements were recorded by the minute.

So did Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy have an affair?

Perhaps. Was it as dramatic as people claim? Far from it. The most it would have been was a one-night stand in Palm Springs, otherwise, most other dates can be debunked with both facts and logic. All that can be clarified is Marilyn and JFK were in the same room in April 1957, March 1961 and May 1962. The other dates are hearsay.

Our Marilyn Monroe

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3 COMMENTS

  • Jane Irving

    Is this a book, looks interesting.

  • G Dalton

    Am a fan of Marilyn and JFK. A good read. Thank you.

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