All the Way with J.F.K.

  • Yes, America, there was a Mimi, a teenage cuddle for President John Kennedy back in 1962 and '63. But there was also a Pam, a Priscilla, a Jill (actually, two of them), a Janet, a Kim, a Mary and a Diana I can think of offhand.

    The Kennedy sex industry will march on. Sharing the sheets with J.F.K. seems to have become a badge of honor — and perhaps a route to publishing riches. But beware of boasting or true confessions: I've never met anybody who was a witness in the bedroom. It is all circumstantial — or was, until Judith Exner, the Mob moll who wrote it down and changed everything.

    Mind & Body Happiness
    Jan. 17, 2004

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    Mimi Beardsley rings a bell for all of us creaky White House journalists, but it is easy to forget one or more of the young nymphs. They were once described by an astounded British visitor as being like new tennis balls with the fuzz still on them.

    Mimi was another slender, pretty, pleasant young thing wandering in the White House corridors, looking for a desk and something to do that did not require shorthand or typing or any other known secretarial skill. How a senior at Miss Porter's School captivated a swinging and sophisticated President is a mystery not yet solved — or perhaps it is. J.F.K. was captivated pretty easily. Testimony by some of Kennedy's girls is that he was a lousy and hurried lover, but who cared when it was the leader of the free world, with all the trappings of power like Air Force One and the Lincoln Bedroom?

    So Mimi now is Marion Fahnestock, mother of two, grandmother of four, and a church lady with the tony Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. Actually, many of Kennedy's girls have done well: wives, mothers, grandmothers, authors, painters, philanthropists, social workers, and there is even one who became a noted Hollywood impresario.

    Mimi surfaced in a roundabout way. At the Kennedy Library, author Robert Dallek, when writing his new J.F.K. biography, An Unfinished Life, came across an oral history done in 1964 by one of the gentlest, most ardent Kennedy supporters in existence, Barbara Gamarekian. In it Gamarekian, who had worked in the White House press office and later became a reporter for the New York Times, talks about Mimi; but she had embargoed that section of her reminiscences. Dallek persuaded her to release it.

    At first, the old White House reporters had a hard time recalling Mimi. But at a monthly luncheon last week, we pieced together sightings of her slipping out of Air Force One and confirmed Gamarekian's account of the top of a female head being seen in one of the limousines in Kennedy's motorcade at the 1962 Bermuda summit with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. When staff and reporters looked in, Mimi was sitting on the floor of the car like a child playing hide-and-seek.

    Some gossip out of an earlier summit in Nassau was that Kennedy told Macmillan he had to have sex once a day or he would get a headache. This story has been largely discounted, but now it has new currency. The friends and admirers of Kennedy are disappointed once again. The steady procession of scandal is nibbling away at his credibility as a leader. The excess, the recklessness of his actions stuns almost everyone. Old gossip gets new legs, like the story of the ravishing Indian journalist spotted by Kennedy in the Rose Garden and promptly invited to dinner at the White House. Or the one about a friend's alluring wife, whom he propositioned at a reception. When she said, "I'm married," he replied, "So am I. What of it?"

    Back then, of course, there were no tabloid-TV confessionals or presidential tapes or paparazzi pictures, just the mysterious comings and goings in and around the White House. So what did a reporter report? Well, we had the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall, the space race, the Cuban missile crisis and Bull Connor in Birmingham, Ala . Never saw one of the girls in the Cabinet Room interfering with the President on how to handle Vietnam. In that pre-Geraldo world, the Mimis were a nonstory.

    And yet I suspect Kennedy was living on borrowed time. The media were beginning to change; their fascination with the young President and his family was intensifying daily. Had he lived into a second term, there was a good chance that one of the numberless and heedless stories of sexual indulgence would have broken over his head, embarrassing him and his family, perhaps crippling his presidency. In that case, Mimi might have got into the history books a lot sooner.