Mimi Alford, a former intern at White House reveals the cold-hearted truth about John F. Kennedy, a predatory president who cynically exploited her innocence as she was only 19-year-old.
Here is an extract from Mimi Alford’s memoirs, “Once Upon A Secret”, a book that shocked America:
“Never, even in my most florid imaginings, did I think that my first experience of sex would be with an older man – let alone someone of my parents’ generation.
Yet, on my fourth day as a summer intern in the White House press office, I lost my virginity to President John F Kennedy.
The experience was so wholly unexpected and surreal that, as I was driven home in a limo afterwards, I wondered if it had all been a dream.
As a sheltered and naive 19-year-old, I just couldn’t make sense of what had just happened.
For one thing, I’d always imagined that my first time would be with the man I loved on my wedding night.
That was the conventional view among girls my age in 1962 – and I was as conventional as anyone I knew.
Could I have done anything to resist President Kennedy? I doubt it: once we were alone in his wife’s bedroom, he’d manoeuvered me so swiftly and unexpectedly, and with such authority and strength, that, short of screaming, I don’t think anything would have thwarted his intentions.
Friends invariably said: <<You must see it, Mimi – you were set up! He was a predator.>> A few went a step further and brought up the word <<rape>>.
I didn’t see it that way. That night, in the midst of my shock and confusion, I felt for the first time the thrill of being desired.
And the fact that I was desired by the most famous and powerful man in America merely amplified the thrill. I simply couldn’t say no to the President.
Ironically, I’d been offered a summer internship – which I hadn’t even applied for – because I’d attended the same exclusive girl’s boarding school as Kennedy’s wife Jacqueline.
If I had a political affiliation at all, it probably leaned more towards the moderate Republicanism of my wealthy parents – who’d voted for Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential race – rather than Kennedy’s Democratic politics.
Like many young people back then, however, I wasn’t immune to the star power of the dynamic new President and his glamorous young wife – so I wrote to Jackie, asking for an interview for the school magazine.
My request was turned down, but instead I was offered a visit to the White House and an interview with the First Lady’s social secretary, Letitia Baldridge.
Perhaps she was merely extending an extra dose of kindness to a girl from Mrs. Kennedy’s school, but Miss Baldrige had clearly given thought to my visit. After the interview, she added me to a line-up of children meeting the President that day.
Of course, I was nervous and star-struck; what high school student wouldn’t be? President Kennedy was taller, thinner, more handsome in person than he looked in photographs.
When it was my turn to shake hands, he smiled and asked me about my school, and where I was going to college next year. <<Well, it’s nice to see you,>> he said. <<Good luck.>>
Just over a year later, I was invited back to the White House as an intern.
I sat in a room with <<the girls>>, as the secretaries were called, and my job was to collect the streams of paper spitting out of the teletype machines, clip them into foot-long sections and hand them to the President’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger.
It was hardly rocket science, but I had a mini panic attack on the first day and couldn’t sleep at night for fear of messing up.
To say that I lacked sophistication is an understatement: I was a skinny 5ft 9in former debutante – nicknamed Monkey at school – who wore no make-up and had a singular lack of success with men (total experience: one kiss in the eighth grade).
Once, my brother Josh had even dangled a five-dollar bill behind my back to entice other dance partners to cut in.
This, then, was the girl sitting at her desk when she took a call from Dave Powers, the President’s special assistant. I’d met him only briefly, but he was asking me to come for a midday swim in the White House pool.
Who, me? I suppose my first thought should have been to question the propriety of this invitation, but I was thrown off balance.
The pool room had one mirrored wall, with the other three sides painted with floor-to-ceiling scenes of palm trees and sailboats. To my relief, two colleagues – a girl called Fiddle and her friend Jill, inevitably known as Diddle – appeared at the entrance and showed me where to find a spare swimsuit.
As I walked past the mirror toward the edge, I stole a glance at myself in the borrowed suit and felt a wave of relief. I may not have had curves, but at least I had good posture and long legs.
The water was as warm as that in a bathtub – as I learned later, the temperature was always set at 90 degrees to soothe JFK’s chronic back pain. I was treading water with Fiddle and Jill when the President himself walked in.
<<Mind if I join you?>> he asked. He was remarkably fit – flat stomach, toned arms – for a 45-year-old man. After sliding into the pool, he floated up to me.
<<It’s Mimi, isn’t it?>> he said <<And you’re in the press office this summer, right?>>
He asked what I’d been given to do, and I told him.
<<Well, nice to see you, Mimi,>> he said, and floated away toward Fiddle and Jill. Back at my desk, I felt self-conscious and kept my head down.
Most of my colleagues gauged their status by how much contact they’d had with the President – or even if the President knew their names.
Now an insignificant intern was leapfrogging career women who’d labored long and hard on the presidential campaign.
My hair was still damp when Dave Powers rang again, asking if I’d like to meet everybody after work for a welcome-to-the-staff get-together upstairs. This was impossible to turn down.
I didn’t know what ‘upstairs’ meant, exactly, but I had enough sense not to ask any of the other women in the press office – in case they hadn’t been invited.
So, at 5.30, for the second time in a few hours, I followed Dave to an unfamiliar part of the White House. He was humming quietly to himself.
To my surprise, he took me to the West Sitting Hall – an elegant room in the family residence.
There I found Fiddle and Jill in conversation with a man named Kenny O’Donnell, the President’s appointments secretary.
<<Have a daiquiri,>> Dave said, pouring me a glass. <<Welcome to the White House staff.>>
As I ate the puffed cheese hors d’oeuvres, I listened to the others talking about Mrs. Kennedy, who’d just left for a break in Virginia with four-year-old Caroline and 18-month-old John John.
Suddenly, everyone rose to their feet, and into the room walked President Kennedy. I’m not sure why I was so surprised to see him for the second time that day. After all, he did live here.
He took off his jacket, sat down on the sofa, and put his feet up on a coffee table. I could feel the centre of gravity in the room shift immediately.
Keeping my eye on Fiddle and Jill, I was determined to leave when they did.
Then the President rose from the sofa and walked over to the chair I was sitting in. <<Would you like a tour of the residence, Mimi?>> he asked.
A private tour of the White House from the President of the United States! As I stood up, the daiquiris went immediately to my head. I looked around, tipsy, expecting the entire group to join us, but no one else moved. President Kennedy was already leaving the room, and I followed as if pulled by a magnet.
After showing me the family dining room, he opened another door, stepping aside for me to enter.
<<This is Mrs. Kennedy’s bedroom,>> he said.
That was odd, I thought. Where did he sleep? It was a beautiful room, decorated in a light powder blue with floor-to-ceiling windows and a bed with a draped canopy.
Together we looked out of the window at the fading June sun. <<Beautiful light, isn’t it?>> he said.
Then he showed me some personal memorabilia: a pastel of Caroline, a terracotta bust of a young boy. I noticed he was moving closer and closer. I could feel his breath on my neck. He put his hand on my shoulder.
<<This is a very private room,>> he said. The next thing I knew, he was standing in front of me, his face inches away, his eyes staring directly into mine.
He placed both hands on my shoulders and guided me toward the edge of the bed. I landed on my elbows, frozen halfway between sitting up and lying on my back.
Slowly, he unbuttoned the top of my shirtdress and touched my breasts. Then he started to pull off my underwear.
I couldn’t believe what was happening. Nor could I believe what I did next: I finished unbuttoning my shirtdress and let it fall off my shoulders.
Then he was above me. He paused briefly when he felt some physical resistance.
<<Haven’t you done this before?>> he asked. <<No>>, I said. <<Are you OK?>> he asked. Yes, I replied, and he resumed, but more gently. <<Are you OK?>> he kept saying. I nodded.
After he’d finished, he smiled at me and suggested I use the bathroom. When I came out, he was waiting for me in the West Sitting Hall, which was now deserted. I was in shock. He, on the other hand, was matter-of-fact, and acted as if what had just occurred was the most natural thing in the world.
What I really wanted to do was leave, and he must have sensed that. He made a phone call, and then explained that a car would pick me up at the South Portico entrance.
I wasn’t revolted or appalled, but I was certainly confused. Back in my room, after a shower to wash off the smell of his 4711 cologne, I thought: <<So that’s sex?>> I didn’t know if it had been good, bad, or indifferent.
Had Dave orchestrated the whole thing? And did Fiddle and Jill know what was about to happen?
I suspect they did. Fragments from recently released papers and memoirs suggest that one or both of them had also had sex with the President – though I didn’t know that at the time.
Nor did I know that he undoubtedly had other lovers at the same time he was seeing me.
What was clear to me was that the President was adept at – and accustomed to – getting his way.
And he had that politician’s gift of making you feel that when you were in his company, you were the most important and interesting person in the world.
Our affair, which lasted until his death 18 months later, began in earnest the following week. All that summer, I’d swim with the President, race back to my desk, and then wait for a call to come upstairs.
The governing factor behind these calls, of course, was the presence – or, more accurately, the absence – of Mrs. Kennedy, who was away with the children for most of the summer.
After that first night, we never went back to her bedroom. Instead, we stayed in his, which had a lovely antique four-poster bed and piles of books, newspapers, and magazines scattered about. As we spent more and more time together, the absurdity of our relationship, and my self-consciousness, gradually began to wear off.
He was more attentive, more gentlemanly than he’d been in our first encounter. Sometimes he’d be seductive; other times he was in no mood to linger.
Our sexual relationship was varied and fun, and we spent an inordinate amount of time taking baths together, turning his elegant bathroom into our own mini-spa.
The only discordant note was the yellow rubber ducks, which a friend had sent him. Every time the President saw those ducks, he’d become irresistibly playful.
We named them after his family members, made up stories about them, and often set them racing from one end of the tub to other. It was part of his charm that he was a serious, sophisticated man with extraordinary responsibilities, yet willing to be completely silly.
After our baths, we’d have a light meal – usually whatever the staff had left in the kitchen refrigerator, but he also taught me how to scramble eggs the way he liked them, slowly stirring them.
At some point in the evening, he’d put on a record – usually Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.
Sometimes, if it got too late, I’d stay the night, which at the time seemed perfectly natural.
He’d lend me one of his soft blue cotton nightshirts to wear. In the morning, I’d often wake to find him having breakfast in bed and reading newspapers.
The Secret Service agents knew I was there. Indeed, I never felt I had to sneak out of the residence in the early hours before the staff arrived. On the contrary, I felt comfortable lingering there.
I was so pleased with myself at being chosen by the President that I didn’t feel self-conscious at all about wearing the same clothes at work two days in a row.
If my office mates noticed, I didn’t care. I felt invulnerable, as if I were cloaked with the President’s power.
It shames me to admit that I don’t recall feeling any guilt. In my 19-year-old mind, I wasn’t invading the Kennedys’ marriage; I was merely occupying the President’s time when his wife was away. If he wasn’t troubled, why should I be? It was hardly by chance that in the 18 months I knew him, I never once met his wife.
Frequently, he’d summon me openly to the Oval Office and ask me to administer a hair treatment before one of his televised press conferences.
Then he’d close his eyes and lean back in his rocking chair while I massaged some tonic and an amber-colored ointment into his scalp, and brushed his hair into place. As the summer wore on, I was pulled deeper into his personal orbit. But despite the increasing level of familiarity between us, I never rose above being the obedient partner in our relationship.
Even in our most intimate moments, I called him Mr. President. To do otherwise would have seemed inappropriate.
Some evenings, we’d have drinks with Dave Powers, with whom I developed a close friendship.
Since neither of them could believe I wasn’t the object of universal pursuit, they were always teasing me about boyfriends. Dave, I felt, had an avuncular interest in making sure I didn’t get hurt. Of course, now I realize that he wasn’t taking care of me at all; he was taking care of the President.
Still, we were a good trio. Or we were, until a callous and unforgiveable incident threatened to destroy our ease in each other’s company.
The President and I were in the pool, splashing playfully, while Dave Powers was sitting on the edge, with his feet dangling in the water. Then JFK swam over and whispered in my ear: <<Mr Powers looks a little tense – would you take care of it?>>
I knew exactly what that meant: it was a dare to give Dave Powers oral sex.
I don’t think the President thought I’d do it, but I’m ashamed to say that I did. It was a pathetic, sordid scene, and I can hardly bear to think about it. Dave was jolly and obedient as I stood in the shallow end of the pool and performed my duties. The President silently watched.
Try as I may, I cannot explain why, without hesitation, I obeyed his command. Perhaps I was carried away by a spirit of playfulness.
Perhaps I was in thrall to his charm and authority.
No doubt my own insecurity and need for his approval had something to do with it. What I do know is that Dave and I were umbilically linked to each other in our devotion to President Kennedy.
But now the man who’d engaged our complete loyalty had gone too far. He’d emotionally abused me and debased Dave. For what? To watch me perform and to show Dave how much he controlled us?
Afterwards, I was deeply embarrassed. As I climbed out of the pool, I heard Dave say sternly to his boss: <<You shouldn’t have made her do that.>>
<<I know, I know,>> was the reply. Later, a chastened President Kennedy apologized to us both.
For the first time, I’d seen his dark side.
I saw it again a year later, when I was in a room with him and his younger brother, Teddy.
Once again, he tried to show off his power over me, this time suggesting: <<Mimi, why don’t you take care of my baby brother – he could stand a little relaxation.>>
This time I felt a flash of anger. And for the first time, I stood up to him.
<<You’ve got to be kidding,>> I said. <<Absolutely not, Mr. President.>>”