Mimi Alford on affair with JFK: ‘I was swept away’ Former White House intern opens up about her story in new memoir, ‘Once Upon a Secret By Mimi Alford
TODAY books Mimi Alford, the former White House intern who wrote a book claiming she had an affair with then-President John F. Kennedy, opened up this Wednesday with Meredith Vieira on “Rock Center.”
In her first television interview, Alford described her relationship with the president as “exciting,” “glamorous,” and “fun.” Her bombshell revelations include claims that, on Kennedy’s request, she performed oral sex on Dave Powers, one of the president’s top aides, while he watched.
“The president swam over and whispered in my ear, ‘Mr. Powers looks a little tense, would you take care of it?’ It was a dare but I know exactly what he meant … it was pathetic,” she said, reading from her book.
Alford told Vieira that the affair, which was consensual, began in 1962 when Powers asked her to join the president at a party to welcome a new staffer. Afterwards, she said he gave her a private tour of the quarters, at the end of which they had sex in Jackie Kennedy’s bedroom. It was the first time she’d had sex with anyone, she explained.
“I wouldn’t describe what happened that night as making love, but I wouldn’t call it non-consensual either,” she said, adding that she was “overpowered in the sense that he was the president … I don’t consider it was rape.”
The encounter was the beginning of an 18-month long relationship, Alford said. She said she would spend nights with him at the White House’s private residence, as well on official trips where she would wait for him in a hotel room until he summoned her. He gave her gifts and even called her while she was away at college.
Looking back, she said that it was an “imbalanced” relationship for a 19-year-old to have. However, she said that “I still wouldn’t say no” and she “wasn’t really in the wrong.” She recalled fond memories of her time with the president.
“He had a collection of little yellow rubber ducks and they were in the bathtub and rubber ducks sort of became part of the game,” she said. “We had races with rubber ducks in the bathtub.”
Not of all her memories were so pleasant.
“It wasn’t a romantic affair,” she admitted. “I don’t ever remember him kissing me.”
At one point, she said she thought she was pregnant and told Powers, who told her he could arrange for her to have an abortion.
“He said he would put me in a touch with someone who would put me in touch with someone who would put me in touch with someone if I should need help,” she said.
Though he was married, she said she “didn’t feel guilty” about the affair and believed the president cared about her.
“I’m not going to say he loved me, but I think he did like me a lot,” she said. “Just the way he was, the way he smiled with me. I feel that he did. I feel that he actually cared about me.”
She also said she was relieved to be finally speaking out on her experience.
“When you keep a secret, and when you keep silent about something, you do it because you think it’s keeping you safe, but in fact, it’s deadly,” she said.
Alford’s book, “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath,” was released on Monday.
Watch more from the interview on “Rock Center”:
Mimi Alford on affair with JFK: ‘I was swept away’
Former White House intern opens up about her story in new memoir, ‘Once Upon a Secret
In the summer of 1962, 19-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to work in the White House press office. Although she started as a lowly intern, Mimi made an impression on Kennedy’s inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself. Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next 18 months.
Now, 50 years later, Mimi Alford is opening up about her story in her new memoir, “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.” Here is an excerpt.
My full name is Marion Beardsley Fahnestock Alford. In many ways, those three surnames tell you everything you need to know about me and where I come from. I was a Beardsley for the first 20 years of my life, which included the time I was intimate with JFK. I was a Fahnestock for the next four decades, taking the name of the man I married in January 1964, two months after JFK’s assassination. Fahnestock is the name attached to the bulk of my adult life and the name my two daughters were born with. I am an Alford now, because of my marriage in 2005 to Dick Alford, the great love of my life, whom, ironically, I would never have met if I hadn’t been outed in 2003. It’s the only name I go by today, the only name on the jacket of this book.
There’s a reason for that. I am no longer the sheltered 19-year-old Mimi Beardsley, who entered into a relationship with the most powerful man in the world. Nor am I the scared, emotionally crippled Mimi Fahnestock who spent a lifetime living with, and struggling to overcome, the consequences of that relationship.
I am Mimi Alford, and I do not regret what I did. I was young and I was swept away, and I cannot change that fact. It’s been almost 10 years since my secret was revealed to the world, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the intervening years thinking about this tender episode of my life, and how to express my feelings about it, or even if I should. I don’t have such doubts anymore. Until that day in May, there had been an emptiness inside me that I didn’t know how to fill. But since then, the happiness and contentment I have come to know as Mimi Alford have freed me — and taught me the importance of taking control of my story.
At first, I wrote letters (never mailed) to my oldest granddaughter, to “set the record straight.” “Dearest Emma,” I began, “I have a story I want to tell you because someday when you are older there’s a chance you might come across my name in a book about an American President. I want you to know the facts. …”
But there was so much more to the story than just getting the facts down for the record. Living with a secret had stunted me emotionally, and I realize now that my letters were only tentative steps at understanding. Taking complete control would demand intense self-reflection, and not just beginning and ending with my time at the White House.
This book represents a private story, but one that happens to have a public face. And I do not want the public face of this story — the one where I will be remembered solely as a presidential plaything — to define me.
It may be hard to accept that a chaste teenage girl can end up in bed with the President of the United States on her fourth day in the White House. But no story is as simple as that.
It begins on a train to Washington, D.C.
Excerpted from “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath” by Mimi Alford. Copyright © 2012 by Mimi Alford. Excerpted with permission of Random House.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive