All the credit for THE BIG AFFAIR always goes to the big brother, John F Kennedy, doesn’t it? But what about Little Bobby? Some researchers feel this affair was even more likely than the one with John… But is it?
Note: This post will solely discuss Marilyn and RFK’s “relationship” and not the theories surrounding her death. For that, please read here.
If you read my post about Bobby’s brother and MM, you’d know 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).
But unlike his brother, Bobby wasn’t and never has really been famous for sleeping around. Edwin Guthman, Department of Justice as press secretary for Attorney General said, “I travelled with Bobby, day and night for five years and I never saw him pay attention to anyone but his wife.”
Bobby married his wife Ethel in 1950, going on to have 11 (!!!) children together. He was known for being shy, gentle and timid as well as being a very loyal husband. The rumours that he would divorce Ethel in 1962 are far from likely.
WHEN AND WHERE DID THE KENNEDY/MONROE AFFAIR RUMOURS START?
This section may seem to be a repeat from the JFK post but as this is about Bobby, we can go a bit further back as the rumours started before the 3 August 1962 when Dorothy Kilgallen alluded that Marilyn was spending time with an unnamed man.
Jean Kennedy Smith, sibling to Robert F Kennedy wrote to Marilyn (undated but likely in 1962) thanking her for a note Marilyn sent to Joseph Kennedy and hinted at the rumours that had been circulating. This shows that the rumours had started before the August article.
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.”
A ‘HANDSOME GENTLEMAN’
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 what about Bobby?
Well, Dorothy believed she had the scoop in August 1962…
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.
So, how did the infamous gossip columnist, who is known for both raising and trashing Marilyn’s name, find out this juicy information?
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…
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.
The rumours spun out of control when Frank Capell got hold of this idea and ran with it. And then there was the FBI.
J. Edgar Hoover, King of Blacklisting, had a file on Marilyn Monroe dating back from 1956, way before her first meeting with any Kennedy, when she married suspected communist Arthur Miller. But she wasn’t the only one. Charlie Chaplin, Andy Warhol, Walt Disney and more were a part of Hoover’s morality scrutinisation. And the Kennedy family couldn’t escape his wrath either.
William Sullivan, Deputy Director of the FBI stated in his autobiography The Bureau: My Thirty Years In Hoover’s FBI: “Although Hoover was desperately trying to catch Bobby Kennedy red-handed at anything, he never did. Kennedy was almost a Puritan. We used to watch him at parties, where he would order one glass of scotch and still be sipping from the same glass two hours later. The stories about Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were just stories. The original story was invented by a so-called journalist, a right-wing zealot who had a history of spinning wild yarns. It spread like wildfire, of course, and J. Edgar Hoover was right there, gleefully fanning the flames.”
WORD ABOUT TOWN
As mentioned earlier, the affair rumour had gotten into the Kennedy clan, with Jean Smith joking that Marilyn and Bobby were now an item. But as stated in the New York Post, she confirmed there was zero sincerity in her note.
But unlike his brother, Bobby wasn’t and never has really been famous for sleeping around. Edwin Guthman said, “Ethel was the woman in his life, and he seemed uninterested in any other except in the normal, socially acceptable and public way of such things… And to have an affair? Well, frankly it wasn’t in his character.”
When asked about the rumours surrounding her affair with Bobby, Marilyn told Ralph Roberts and Rupert Allan that it was untrue. Sidney Skolsky as well as other friends including Milton Ebbins, Joseph Naar and William Asher insist the relationship was platonic.
Of course, there are those who claim to have heard Marilyn and the brothers engaging in sexual acts, through bugging and tapes. Of course, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to confirm this. No dates and no tapes. A book and a documentary are all that we have to document this, which does nothing but further a rumour and myth as well as a reputation for someone who has nothing else going for them.
MARILYN & RFK, A TIMELINE OF MEETINGS
RUMOURED AND CONFIRMED
Marilyn did indeed meet RFK and call him on several occasions to which Edwin Guthman (who I mentioned earlier) stated, “Marilyn did indeed call [Kennedy] several times at his Washington office. Bobby was a good listener, and he took interest in her questions, her life, even her troubles. But the truth is that for me, for Bobby, and for Angie [Novello, Kennedy’s secretary] the calls became something of a joke, and certainly not a secret or whispered. We would say something like, ‘Oh, here she is again, with questions about this or that.’ But these were always brief conversations.”
Marilyn’s phone records show her calling a Washington number in July 1962, which is very likely Bobby. However, this clearly was public knowledge.
According to Guthman, Marilyn was at a dinner party at the home of Peter and Pat Lawford (nee Kennedy. She apparently got a little drunk on “too much champagne.” He states that he and Bobby drove Marilyn home.
As Bobby was in Los Angeles on 4 October, it’s likely that Guthman was referring to this date.
Some biographers use a limo receipt in an attempt to dispel this story, but the receipt in question refers to a February 1962 meeting that Marilyn wrote to her former stepson, Bobby Miller about (see further down). Marilyn was in Los Angeles at this time, so it may have occurred, however, the letter to Bobby Miller in February 1962 implies the meeting first took place then, and not in 1961. Perhaps Guthman got Marilyn confused with someone else?
18 NOVEMBER 1961
As with JFK, Robert is rumoured to have been with Marilyn on this date. However, whilst Marilyn was in Los Angeles looking over photo proofs with Douglas Kirkland, Bobby was in New York.
1 FEBRUARY 1962
Although misdated on Julien’s website, Marilyn wrote to Bobby Miller on 2 February 1962 stating:
“Oh, Bobby, guess what: I had dinner last night with the Attorney-General of the United States, Robert Kennedy, and I asked him what his department was going to do about Civil Rights and some other issues. He’s very intelligent, and besides all that, he’s got a terrific sense of humor. I think you would like him. Anyway, I had to go to this dinner last night as he was the guest of honor and when they asked him who he wanted to meet, he wanted to meet me. So, I went to the dinner and I sat next to him, and he isn’t a bad dancer either.” She continues telling Bobby about her conversation and pressing Kennedy to find out what he planned to do about civil rights and that he answered her questions and told her he would send her a letter with all of his plans. He asked her if she had been attending “some kind of meetings” she writes to Bobby, “I laughed and said ‘no, but these are the kind of questions that the youth of America want answers to and want things done about.’ Not that I’m so youthful, but I feel youthful. But he’s an old 36 himself which astounded me because I’m 35. It was a pleasant evening, all in all.”
Marilyn wrote a similar note to Isidore Miller.
This event was at the home of Pat and Peter Lawford, with many guests in attendance to celebrate RFK’s visit to the Far East for a month-long diplomatic journey. Interestingly, reports from 1 February state that Ethel and JFK accompanied him on his flight from Washington (which would require a stopover in Hawaii via Los Angeles). However, according to JFK’s appointments, he did not accompany his brother. However, reports showed that Ethel was with him.
Pat Newcomb who was there said that Marilyn, “really cared about learning” and goes to state how Marilyn had prepared questions to ask about civil rights.
Guests such as Joan Braden commented that Marilyn was “quite sober – a terrifically nice person” and that “they had an instant rapport.”
That evening (the next morning) Marilyn took a limo home, getting back to her Doheny apartment at 3am.
19 May 1962
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.
13 June 1962
Marilyn declined an invitation to a dinner party at the home of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy. It’s unclear what “freedom ride protest” she was referring to but Marilyn, not being the most sociable person probably felt this was a good excuse to not attend.
26/27 June 1962
According to Donald Spoto’s biography, Marilyn was being collected by Pat and Peter Lawford from her home in Brentwood to attend a party at their home and Bobby was with them (on 27 June). Marilyn is believed to have given them a tour of her new home. Her housekeeper, Eunice Murray stated, “She certainly didn’t go sneaking around with Mr Kennedy or have a love affair with him!”
Kennedy had indeed arrived in Los Angeles on the 26 June and left some time on the 27 June when he departed via Los Angeles International Airport.
Marilyn didn’t write about JFK or talk about him often other than his politics. But she did talk about Bobby. She met him on more occasions than John and found him to be an interesting person.
Marilyn was a family friend who made a few phone calls and saw him at a few public meetings. Does this mean they had an affair? Well, unlike JFK there is no evidence to suggest this. Marilyn is likely to have at least had a one-night stand with the President. But as far as the Attorney General, it was more of a platonic relationship.
Marilyn may have hoped to “woo” RFK. Perhaps Marilyn started the rumours herself? Who knows! But no matter what evidence points to the fact that Bobby was incredibly loyal and faithful to Ethel. I feel sad for her and their children that these unproven rumours still circulate to this day with absolutely no credible evidence.