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August 19, 2009
The most potentially damaging woman in the President’s stable of beautiful sex partners was Ellen Rometsch, a 27-year-old pricey Washington hooker and Elizabeth Taylor look-alike. Born in what had become East Germany, Rometsch was also a suspected spy. If exposed, the Kennedy-Rometsch affair could have become a major national security issue. For a steep price, J. Edgar Hoover kept the lid on it.
by Don Fulsom
Had the American public known in 1963 what they know now about John F. Kennedy’s scores of sexual escapades, would he have been able to survive in office? Though he was charismatic and capable, probably not. Particularly if it were known that one of the President’s girl friends was—as is now reputed—a White House intern. And even more especially, if it were known that one of his bedmates were a prostitute and a reputed Soviet Bloc spy.
The intern, Mimi Beardsley Alford, then 19 and now 66, is penning a memoir—Once Upon a Secret—that claims she had an affair with President Kennedy from June 1962 to November 1963.
With several other White House staffers as always-willing sex partners, the President never had far to go for a fling. Aside from Mimi, there were: Pamela Turnure, Jackie Kennedy’s appointments secretary; White House press aide Priscilla Weiss, code named “Fiddle” by the Secret Service; and press aide Jill Cowan, code named “Faddle.” Jack frequently romped with Fiddle and Faddle—as a nude threesome—in the White House swimming pool.
The President could also ask his favorite Georgetown mistress, Mary Pinchot Meyer, to share his bed when the First Lady wasn’t around. Meyer made about 30 visits to the White House between the months of January 1962 and November 1963.
Historian Herbert Parmet is convinced the Kennedy-Meyer relationship was based on true romance:
Mary felt her love was reciprocated. At least one unidentified source who knew them both has been quoted as saying that Jack probably did love her. She had become the secret Lady Ottoline of Camelot.
She also told one of her two (married) friends (in whom she confided) that Jack “felt no affection of a lasting kind for his wife.” But Jack Kennedy found an outlet both sexually and intellectually with Mary. He could enjoy life with her. He could talk in ways she understood, and their trust was mutual.
Writing in JFK, Parmet adds: “Their relationship covered the greater portion of his time in office, and there is every reason for believing that she was an important support.”
Though she lived in California, aspiring movie actress Judith Campbell—introduced to JFK by crooner Frank Sinatra—made at least 20 visits to the White House. Campbell was also the girlfriend of Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana.
Campbell eventually confessed that the President’s persistent back pain eventually made their lovemaking rather perfunctory and one-dimensional. Writing in My Story, Campbell said Kennedy was always on his back, and “the feeling that I was there to service him began to really trouble me.”
Not only starlets, but also Hollywood’s biggest glamour girls were linked to Kennedy—among them: Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Gene Tierney and Angie Dickinson. Two burlesque queens, Blaze Starr and Tempest Storm, were also on Kennedy’s long list of bedmates. A longtime close friend of the President, Sen. George Smathers of Florida once asserted: “There’s no question about the fact that Jack had the most active libido of any man I’ve ever known…and he got more so the longer he was married.”
The most potentially damaging woman in the President’s stable of beautiful sex partners was Ellen Rometsch, a 27-year-old pricey Washington hooker and Elizabeth Taylor look-alike.
Years later, Bobby Baker—once a top Senate aide—confirmed the affair in Wheeling and Dealing. He even admitted fixing up Kennedy with Rometsch. According to Burton Hersh in Bobby and J. Edgar, after Jack’s first date with Ellen, the President phoned Baker to rave, “That was the best blow job I ever had in my life.” Baker said the couple had several other sexual sessions. Ellen, he noted, was just as gratified during these encounters—telling Baker: “Jack was as good as it got with the oral sex … Made me happy …”
Bobby Baker knew Ellen Rometsch extremely well. She was a “hostess” at his exclusive Quorum Club, a private Capitol Hill watering hole for lawmakers, lobbyists and what were politely known as “ladies of the evening.” The club was part of the Carroll Arms Hotel. And sometimes members —after a night of hearty partying—would tumble into bed with a call girl in one of the hotel rooms.
Baker described Rometsch as “a German lady-about-town who sometimes visited the Quorum Club, and I introduced her to Jack Kennedy at his request…Bobby Kennedy couldn’t get her out of the States fast enough when the newspapers revealed she’d had an affair with a Russian diplomat too.”
Born in what had become East Germany, Rometsch was also a suspected spy. If exposed, the Kennedy-Rometsch affair could have become a major national security issue.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was among the first to learn of the affair. Rometsch was usually described in bureau files as a “prostitute.”
In July 1963, Hoover’s agents questioned Rometsch about her past. They concluded she was probably a Soviet spy.
Hoover reported his findings to his boss, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Historian Michael Bechloss says Hoover told Bobby, "We have information that not only your brother, the President, but others in Washington have been involved with a woman whom we suspect as a Soviet intelligence agent, someone who is linked to East German intelligence."
Panic gripped the White House when the President learned what the FBI had uncovered. Rometsch and her husband—a military attaché at the West German embassy—were hastily flown out of Washington. But not before Robert Kennedy had “used all his powers as attorney general, with the help of J. Edgar Hoover, to quash investigations by the Congress and the FBI,” according to Seymour Hersh in The Dark Side of Camelot.
Several sources say Bobby Kennedy met privately with Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mansfield and his Republican counterpart, Everett Dirksen. He asked them to keep to themselves whatever they knew of the Rometsch matter.
Wesley Pruden—a White House reporter at the time—observes that Hoover himself also visited Mansfield and Dirksen. “Just when a few brave Republicans were screwing up the courage to make something out of (the Rometsch Case), on the grounds that a president really shouldn't be taking off his clothes with a femme fatale from the Evil Empire, Bobby Kennedy, JFK's attorney general, sent J. Edgar Hoover to Capitol Hill with a not-so-friendly word to the wise. 'Don't investigate this,' he told the Republicans. 'Because if you do, we're going to open up everybody's closets.' J. Edgar Hoover, as every Republican knew, held the key to a lot of closets and was familiar with what was in all of them."
The Senate leaders kept mum about what they knew. So did Hoover, on whose orders Rometsch and her hubby were deported to Germany in August 1963.
Kennedy allegedly paid a tidy sum of hush money—“regular large payments in deutschmarks” to Ellen, according to Burton Hersh—“to help her remember to keep her mouth shut.”
The Kennedy-hating Hoover—a blackmailer without peer—extracted a heavy price for the key role he played in this cover-up, according to an expert on the Rometsch affair, David Eisenbach:
Only Hoover could help because only Hoover had files on the sexual hijinks of everyone who was anyone inside the Beltway including dozens of senators. But Hoover would bailout the President only on two conditions. 1.) JFK would never fire him and 2.) the FBI could escalate its bugging of Martin Luther King Jr.
Kennedy agreed and Hoover showed Senate leaders the FBI sex files on dozens of senators. The FBI director explained that if the Senate exposed the President's sex life, no one would be safe.
That same day the Senate leaders announced there would be no investigation into Ellen Rometsch. Days later, speaking to his friend Ben Bradlee about Hoover, JFK brazenly said: "Boy, the dirt he has on those senators, you wouldn't believe it."
Writing in HuffingtonPost.com in 2009, Eisenbach asks a series of intriguing questions: “What if J. Edgar Hoover had not gotten involved or if he didn't have the dirt on all these senators? Would that investigation have gone forward? Would Kennedy have been impeached in the fall of 1963? And would Kennedy have been in Dallas on November 22, 1963.”
Sources other than those cited: The Spartacus and Paperless Archives Web sites; Forty Ways to Look at JFK by Gretchen Rubin; Conspiracy in Camelot by Jerry Kroth; Official and Confidential by Anthony Summers.
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