IT TOOK five decades for Mimi Alford to tell the world about an 18-month affair she had as a teenager. But given that her lover was US president John F Kennedy, and the reaction to her tell-tale book on their trysts, it seems her caution was well placed.
Ms Alford, now 68, claims the president deflowered her in wife Jackie’s bed. And says the affair continued almost until he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in November 1963.
Other lurid claims include having sex with the president when Jackie was away, and performing sex acts on an aide while the president watched. She claims Kennedy even tried to persuade her to take drugs at a party hosted by Bing Crosby.
Ms Alford insists she is not trying to cash in on the Kennedy name by releasing her book, Once Upon a Secret, which also chronicles how she was made to wait in the president’s bed as he faced down Russian president Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. “It is about being honest,” she said. “I wrote this because of a secret I had and there’s no way I could have separated the Kennedy name. I want people to understand how vulnerable I was.”
Her claims add a sordid new chapter to the “Camelot” legacy of Kennedy, now mainly remembered as a serial womaniser whose conquests included actress Marilyn Monroe.
“The relationship I had with President Kennedy was so imbalanced,” she said, recalling how he first seduced her just four days into her new post as a White House intern, aged 19.
She said it happened the day after she was invited by the president’s chief aide, Dave Powers, to a lunchtime swim party Kennedy attended, and as he gave her a private tour of the White House bedrooms.
“I felt him getting closer to me,” she told NBC News. “He looked me in the eyes, put his hands on my shoulders and guided me down to edge of the bed. I didn’t really know what was about to happen. What did happen was I lost my virginity right there.”
Although she later returned to college in Massachusetts, she said Kennedy would summon her for weekends in Washington, and she would often travel as part of his entourage and wait on him in hotel suites.
“He was 45, but I accepted the imbalance because it made me feel special,” she said. She also claims the president asked her to perform a sex act on his brother, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, but she refused. Her book also highlights a quirkier side of Kennedy, including how he liked to race rubber ducks with her in the bath.
By the second summer of the affair, Ms Alford was engaged, Jackie Kennedy pregnant and they were seeing less of each other. “Everything had changed. Maybe the president was letting me go, in a way,” she said. Ms Alford said he gave her $300 as a wedding gift and vowed he would call when he returned from Texas.
Ms Alford, whose name emerged in Kennedy biographer Robert Dallek’s 2003 book An Unfinished Life, said: “I don’t regret the affair, I had so much fun despite the pain it caused. But I feel guilty today about not having felt guilty about Mrs Kennedy.”
Mr Dallek said Ms Alford’s allegations would further tarnish Kennedy’s legacy.
He said: “It diminishes my impression of him. It’s schizophrenic. On one hand you have this serious, thoughtful, imaginative leader, and on the other you have this man who seems to regress to almost primitive behaviour. It’s shocking.”