A Detailed Look At JFK's Alleged Mistresses

John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy married in 1953. They were both from well-to-do families, and JFK was already a United States senator, so the two seemed like a match made in heaven. In retrospect, the pair's relationship wasn't as perfect as it appeared, especially when JFK began his term as president in 1961. The politician's alleged extramarital affairs — of which there were quite a few — are about as well known as his civic contributions. 

According to close friends who spoke to PeopleJackie was well aware of her husband's infidelity, and it was something she more or less accepted. "It was a marriage of its time. At the end of the day, Jack came back to Jackie — and that was it. They loved each other," a family friend said.

While JFK never publicly confirmed any of his relationships outside of his marriage to Jackie, many women have since either been suspected by others to have been his mistress at one time or have claimed to have been his mistress themselves. 

Marilyn Monroe's alleged affair was highly publicized

Of all his alleged affairs, John F. Kennedy's with Marilyn Monroe is by far the most notorious. Monroe was one of the most famous actors on the planet at the time, and their alleged relationship has been examined time and time again in art, pop culture, novels, and more. "What happened to Marilyn Monroe is one of the great mysteries of the 20th century," one of Monroe's biographers told People. And while Monroe's alleged affair with JFK is fairly well documented (as well documented as an alleged affair can be, that is), another alleged affair of Monroe's — with JFK's brother, Robert Kennedy — doesn't receive quite as much attention.

And there is certainly evidence that Monroe and Robert met at least once. As Vanity Fair reported, Monroe wrote a letter to one of her ex-husband Arthur Miller's children, saying, "I had dinner last night with the Attorney-General of the United States, Robert Kennedy ... He is very intelligent, and besides all that, he's got a terrific sense of humor. I think you would like him ... [H]e isn't a bad dancer either." The alleged relationships between Monroe and either Kennedy brother will never be confirmed by any party involved, but we do know that Monroe was married to three separate men, two of whom were quite famous themselves: Miller and Joe DiMaggio.

Diana de Vegh met JFK while she was in college

John F. Kennedy was known for many things, including his charisma. And few can better attest to this than Diana de Vegh, another of JFK's alleged mistresses. After years of keeping the details of her alleged affair a secret, de Vegh opened up in an essay for Air Mail, divulging the details of how she met the former president (a senator at the time), as well as the yearslong affair that apparently ensued between the two. According to de Vegh, after meeting JFK at an event while she was in college, she soon met the politician again, as JFK routinely sent cars to pick her up for more of his fundraisers — events that, according to de Vegh, Jackie Kennedy did not attend.

De Vegh noted that after one of these events, JFK brought her back to his Boston apartment. "In this apartment, something different. He was leaning toward me, with such a sincere gaze. Yes, I knew how he felt about me. How could I doubt this moment of such profound connection? This was love, for sure. And ... now, it was sex, for sure," she said. JFK and de Vegh's meetings soon moved to a hotel, and then, after years of sporadic meetings, the affair was over. "I'm not here to throw dirt at a dead man, but I am here to say the culture is incredibly problematic," de Vegh told People of her decision to share her story.

Gunilla von Post was with JFK while he was engaged

While some of John F. Kennedy's romantic relationships were pure speculation, some were indeed true. JFK met Gunilla von Post, a Swedish socialite, in 1953 while both were on the French Riviera, and they were together before he was married to Jackie Kennedy. "He turned and kissed me tenderly, and my breath was taken away. The brightness of the moon and stars made his eyes appear bluer than the ocean beneath us," von Post said in her memoir of their first meeting, as reported by the Daily Mail

Von Post claimed in her book that it was JFK's father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., who disapproved of their romance. JFK told his father he wanted to leave Jackie for von Post, but his father said it would be bad for JFK's political career.

Von Post's musings aren't the only evidence of the romance between her and JFK. The former president also wrote letters to von Post, which went up for auction in 2021. "If you don't marry come over as I should like to see you. I had a wonderful time last summer with you. It is a bright memory of my life — you are wonderful and I miss you," one of JFK's letters read to von Post, as reported by People.

Priscilla Wear and Jill Cowan were White House secretaries

Word of an inappropriate relationship between the president and someone working in the White House isn't anything we haven't heard before. But long before Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky's affair, other White House staff were engaging in activities most view as unfit for people in such positions. Two of JFK's alleged mistresses were Priscilla Wear and Jill Cowan, both of whom were White House secretaries. 

The two were (and still are) often discussed in tandem and referred to by their security nicknames — Fiddle and Faddle, respectively. According to some claims, Wear and Cowan were often seen at their desks with wet hair after having just gone skinny-dipping in the White House pool with JFK. Both ladies have since reportedly confirmed that they indeed engaged in extramarital affairs with JFK.

As noted, Jackie Kennedy reportedly knew of her husband's alleged affairs. And as The Atlantic reported, Jackie once even introduced a reporter to Wear by saying, "This is the girl who supposedly is sleeping with my husband."

Mary Pinchot Meyer was a friend of Jackie Kennedy's

Mary Pinchot Meyer allegedly had close relationships with both John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy. Meyer and Jackie were friends, and Meyer allegedly had an affair with JFK. But Meyer's alleged relationships with both Kennedys are not what's most shocking about her life — what's most shocking is how it ended. Meyer was murdered, and to this day, the case remains unsolved.

What is known is this: "Passersby heard screams and a witness looked over the wall and saw a man standing near her body. The police came and shortly arrested a Black male [Ray Crump Jr.] soaking wet who said he fell into the Potomac while fishing. ... No gun was ever found," Meyer's biographer wrote, as reported by People. Crump Jr. was later exonerated of the crime. In true American political history fashion, there are several theories surrounding Meyer's death, with Meyer's biographer again saying, "The theory is that she had to die because she knew too much."

Pamela Turnure Timmins was Jackie Kennedy's press secretary

We don't hear nearly as much from the first lady's press secretary as we do from the president's press secretary, and prior to Jackie Kennedy's holding of the former position, first ladies didn't even have press secretaries. That all changed when Jackie hired Pamela Turnure Timmins, a woman Jackie admired. 

According to The Washington Post, Jackie once said of Timmins, "She answers every question exactly as I would. I know she will do it correctly, so we don't even communicate for weeks on end." Naturally, Timmins was eventually introduced to John F. Kennedy, and allegedly, the relationship between the two was not kosher. There were reports that Timmins and JFK were having an affair.

Timmins remained coy regarding allegations that she was having an affair with JFK, though her family did deny the allegations on her behalf. Timmins didn't speak about the former president much, but she did say of a party she attended to which the newly elected President Kennedy had showed up without warning, "It was suddenly no longer the senator or Jack, whatever people may have called him, but Mr. President. And I can't really adequately describe the electric feeling that was in that room."

Judith Exner also had a relationship with Frank Sinatra

John F. Kennedy publicly denied having affairs, and he took it so far as to deny even knowing specific women. One such woman was Judith Exner (née Campbell), who publicly declared she'd had an affair with the former president. Even a former Kennedy aide denied knowing her after JFK had died. As The New York Times reported, in 1991, one aide said in reference to Exner, "The only Campbell I know is chunky vegetable soup." Aside from claiming she'd had an affair with the president, Exner said she had become pregnant with JFK's baby and had an abortion not long before JFK was assassinated.

Exner reportedly met JFK while at a concert of Frank Sinatra's, a man with whom she had also had a relationship. Exner later spoke about her relationships to Vanity Fair, adding that she was also involved with mafia boss Sam Giancana, and that JFK was jealous of her spending time with Sinatra and Giancana. Exner and JFK's affair allegedly lasted years. "I was 26 and in love," Exner said. "Was I supposed to have better sense and more judgment than the president of the United States?"

Mimi Alford was a White House intern

Many of John F. Kennedy's alleged mistresses later admitted that they felt taken advantage of, some of them for being so young, some of them for being involved with a man in such a powerful position, and some of them for both of those reasons. Mimi Alford opened up to People after writing her memoir about her time as a White House intern and her alleged relationship with JFK while he was president. "I think he did take advantage — I was so young," she said. "The fact is, I was vulnerable, and the president was a very powerful man," she added.

Alford was especially candid about details of the affair in another piece for People that, noting that JFK was the first man she ever slept with, and that her first time happened in Jackie Kennedy's bedroom. Alford remained honest with herself and her readers about her entire relationship with JFK. "I think if I was 19, and as I was, I would do it again — it's hard to say I wouldn't. He was magnetic," she said.

Marlene Dietrich had a brief affair with JFK

John F. Kennedy knew some very famous people. The politician ran in elite circles, and he allegedly used those connections to find women with whom he could have affairs. One of the most famous actors of the time was Marlene Dietrich, and in 2000, eight years after she had died, ABC reported that she had had a one-time affair with JFK while he was president. The report claimed that JFK had invited to Dietrich to visit the White House. Dietrich arrived at 6:30 p.m. and had to be somewhere to accept a plaque by 7:00 p.m. "​​It was all over sweetly and very soon. And then he went to sleep. I looked at my watch, and it was 6:50," Dietrich said of their tryst.

Dietrich went on to note that she woke up the president to ask him to show her the way out. JFK reportedly led Dietrich to an elevator where he asked the actor, who was nearly 20 years older than he was at the time, if she had ever been involved with his father. Dietrich assured him she had not.

Inga Arvad caught the attention of several notorious men

Of all the alleged mistresses of John F. Kennedy who had ties to other notable people, Inga Arvad just may have had the most interesting stories. Arvad rubbed shoulders with some of the most famous men in history. For example, J. Edgar Hoover kept close tabs on Arvad under the impression that she was a spy, though evidence that she really was one is limited. The New York Post reported her biographer as saying, "As it turns out, Nazi Germany actually had a terrible espionage network. But the FBI didn't know that at the time. They were desperate to find something. And the less they found, the more they were convinced [Arvad] was hiding stuff."

Arvad, a writer by trade, also met with Adolf Hitler. "You immediately like him ... The eyes, showing a kind heart, stare right at you. They sparkle with force," she wrote of him (though in her defense, she met him prior to the start of the war). And then there was JFK. According to FBI agents quoted in The Washington Post, the two "engaged in sexual intercourse on numerous occasions." 

"[Jack's] got a lot to learn and I'll be happy to teach him," Arvad reportedly said. But JFK's father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., again took what seems like too much interest in his son's romantic life and reportedly convinced him to end things with Arvad.

Gene Tierney wanted to marry the president

Known for her beauty and her acting skills, Gene Tierney was a Hollywood talent who allegedly caught the eye of John F. Kennedy. Like several other alleged mistresses of the former president, Tierney waited to share the details of her relationship with JFK until many years later. The actor wrote a memoir, titled "Self-Portrait," and in it, she included tales of her time with JFK, whom she met shortly after she had split from her husband. According to Tierney, her affair with JFK lasted for about a year, and she was interested in marrying him.

The politician allegedly didn't reciprocate those feelings. "Just before we were joined by some of his friends, he looked at me and said, out of the blue, 'You know, Gene, I can never marry you.' In the chatter, the exchange of greetings as his friends settled into other seats, I said nothing ... We looked at each other for a long, timeless moment. Then he turned and left to catch his plane," Tierney said in her book. She added that, despite the feeling of finality after that encounter, she and JFK did reunite later, though their relationship never amounted to anything more.

Blaze Starr performed for JFK

Blaze Starr was a burlesque dancer who shot to fame in the 1950s. "I always felt that I was an artist, entertaining. I was at ease being a stripper. I kept my head held high, and if there is such a thing as getting nude with class, then I did it," Starr once told The New York Times of her work. Whatever it is she did, Starr allegedly grabbed John F. Kennedy's attention. 

Starr wrote a book about her life and times, but she claims it omitted some salacious information. According to Page Six, Starr noted in a letter to a friend that JFK, Jackie Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson watched Starr perform one evening. Jackie didn't stay, but the two politicians did. "So I took JFK's hand and led him into another room. He led me right into a large closet."

Starr went on to add that afterward, JFK told her "it was harder for him to win my body than any election he had ever been in." All the while, she was engaged to the governor of Louisiana at the time, Earl K. Long.

Angie Dickinson and Audrey Hepburn also knew the president

Many of John F. Kennedy's alleged mistresses have been highly publicized and dissected, but some of them went unnoticed. According to biographer Christopher Andersen, author of "Jack and Jackie: Portrait of an American Marriage," iconic actor Audrey Hepburn of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" fame was one of those furtive women. "I remember Audrey Hepburn, and I remember how the whole office was impressed when she walked in. She was as graceful as a swan and carried a long, slim red umbrella," a former White House secretary told Andersen, as reported by the Daily Mail. "They managed to keep their affair out of the press, and the fact that it was clandestine only made it that much more intense," Andersen wrote in "Jack and Jackie."

The book also includes quotes from Angie Dickinson, another actor who claims to have had an affair with JFK. Dickinson reportedly said JFK was, "the killer type, a devastatingly handsome, charming man — the kind of man your mother hoped you wouldn't marry." She went on to add that "[sex with Kennedy] was the most exciting seven minutes of my life." Whether this is an exhaustive list of JFK's alleged mistresses — the aforementioned book also noted that Lee Remick and Jean Simmons were among his lovers — might never be known for sure. But it does seem like JFK was a busy guy.