When historian Robert Dallek stumbled onto the name "Mimi Beardsley" in a set of declassified documents, he had no idea what kind of explosive secret he had just unearthed.
Beardsley (now Alford) was a 19-year-old student from the prestigious Wheaton College when she applied for a summer internship in the White House press office. She had only been on the job for four days when she caught then-President John F. Kennedy's eye.
Kennedy was a notorious womanizer, and their were even rumors that he cheated on his wife Jacqueline with the movie star Marilyn Monroe, but details of his ongoing affair with Mimi Alford stayed secret for almost 50 years.
After historians finally uncovered it, she broke her silence in a tell-all memoir: Once Upon a Secret: My Affair With President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.
In the book, Alford describes her first meeting with Kennedy. She was invited to attend a pool party with a pair of her female colleagues by a White House staffer. They had no idea what was up until the President arrived at the pool, asked "Mind if I join you?" and came back minutes later in a swimsuit.
"He was remarkably fit — flat stomach, toned arms — for a forty-five year old man," Alford remembers. Later that day the president invited her for another special meeting, upstairs in the White House's private apartments.
And there's where their love affair began...
Alford remembers that the president took her on a guided tour of the White House's upper level, ending in the iconic powder blue bedroom designed by his wife Jackie Kennedy.
“This is a very private room,” the president told Alford.
“The next thing I knew he was standing in front of me, his face inches away,” Alford wrote. “He placed both hands on my shoulders and guided me toward the edge of the bed.” Alford actually lost her virginity to Kennedy, and they kept the affair going for another year.
"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."
~ Excerpt from: Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath
Looking back on their relationship, Alford says she doesn't feel guilty about sleeping with a married man, but "I feel guilty about not having felt guilty about Mrs. Kennedy." As the affair continued, Alford was eventually cheating on her own fiance.
“I think he did take advantage — I was so young,” she told People magazine, “But I liked feeling special. I know there are some difficult parts to that book. And they were difficult for me to write … The fact is, I was vulnerable, and the president was a very powerful man.”
Alford was scheduled to be with President Kennedy on the day of his assassination, but visited her parents and her fiance instead. She confessed the details of the affair to her fiance later that night, and they stayed together for over 20 years.
"If I was 19," she admits, "I would do it again—it's hard to say I wouldn't."
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[H/T: People Magazine]