John F. Kennedy: What evidence is there that JFK and Marilyn Monroe had an affair?

July 31, 2016  —  By

Jon Pennington, U.S. history is more than the watered-down version you got in high school.

They never had any relationship long enough to qualify as a full-fledged affair, but the bulk of the evidence suggests that JFK and Marilyn Monroe did have sex at least once.  On March 24, 1962, JFK and Ms. Monroe were both guests at Bing Crosby’s house in Palm Springs.  JFK had arranged the rendezvous through the actor Peter Lawford, who was married to JFK’s sister Pat at the time. According to Marilyn Monroe’s biographer Donald Spoto, Marilyn Monroe called her personal masseur, the actor Ralph Roberts, from the same bedroom where JFK was staying at Bing Crosby’s house. Roberts, JFK, and Monroe then had a brief conversation about the President’s back problems. Spoto later interviewed Ralph Roberts, who clarified what Marilyn Monroe had told him about her sexual experiences with JFK:

Later, once the rumor mill was grinding, Marilyn told me that this night in March was the only time of her “affair” with JFK.  Of course she was titillated beyond belief, because for a year he had been trying, through Lawford, to have an evening with her. A great many people thought, after that weekend, that there was more to it.  But Marilyn gave me the impression that it was not a major event for either of them: it happened once, that weekend, and that was that.

The next and last time Marilyn Monroe crossed paths with JFK was at Kennedy’s 45th birthday party at Madison Square Garden.  The knowledge that Monroe and JFK had already had a one-night stand by this point makes the sensuality she brought to her performance of Happy Birthday, Mr. President even more palpable.

After that performance, JFK closed off any possibility of a relationship with Monroe, because the president did not want the press circulating any stories about his relationship with the actress.  According to George Smathers, a former Senator from Florida who shared JFK’s interest in womanizing, Marilyn Monroe phoned the White House a few times after the birthday party gala, but she stopped after JFK ignored her calls.  Smathers said, “He wanted to stop it, because it got to be a point where it was somewhat embarrassing.  She stopped bothering him, because he quit talking to her.”

So, while there may be some dispute over how much Marilyn Monroe was emotionally affected by her tryst with JFK, we have on-the-record statements confirming that they did the deed from confidants of both Monroe and JFK.