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Mimi Alford: Sadly, You Are Just One of Many

by Nancy Wurtzel on February 10, 2012

As I watched Mimi Alford make the media rounds, I couldn’t help think about yet another women who was infatuated with our 35th president.

She told me about it in the fall of 1981.  We were sitting in a cozy, upscale Italian restaurant in Westwood.  At the next table an effervescent Michelle Phillips dined with two men who seemed to hang on her every word.  My friend and I had just finished our salads and were well into our second glass of Chianti and I remember feeling a pleasant buzz.

We’d been talking about love, when she turned to me and said: “I’ll never love anyone more than I loved Jack.  He was incredible.”

“Jack?” I replied.

“Jack Kennedy,” she said. In a tone that implied, who else?

Who else indeed?  My friend was decades older than me — wealthy, striking and from a well-connected East Coast family that had long played a major role in Democratic politics.  She ran in those rarefied circles in the early 1960s and probably did know President Kennedy.

But did she know him in that way?

I was a naive 24 year old just off the boat from Minnesota and working in my first big job.  My friend — a co-worker who was dabbling in public relations — had taken me under her wing.  Sophisticated and with cash to burn, she would whisk me off for lunch in Beverly Hills, a play in Hollywood or to her luxury townhouse to enjoy catered parties.  These were heady experiences for a small town girl.

In the midst of a divorce, my friend needed to talk and I was willing to listen.  Much of what she said seemed to ring true, but my radar also told me her life story was a blend of fact and fiction.

While I didn’t really know what to think at the time, I now believe my friend probably did have an affair with President Kennedy.  With a calm glow, she described his energy, passion and intellect in detail.  Sounding like a woman protecting her man, she spoke derisively about Jackie Kennedy, calling her “a cold bitch, who made his life miserable.”  For my friend, the affair (if there had been one) obviously wasn’t just about sex.  Although she knew there were other women in his life, she had cared for him deeply.  Few people knew about their relationship and she liked it that way.  It was a part of her past that she fiercely protected.

Yet, she never asked me to keep it a secret and she never brought it up again.

We kept in touch on and off.  She came to my wedding in 1989, but by then we had drifted apart.  I was a newlywed intent on starting a family and she was a wealthy, single lady of a certain age dating much younger men.  We had little in common.

These days, I don’t think of her often.  However, when someone new comes forward about their long-hidden affair with President Kennedy, I do wonder where she is and what she is thinking.

Does her affair seem diminished and tawdry to her now that it is revealed how many women JFK actually bedded?  Or does she still bask in the memories, excuse his countless dalliances and defend his sexist and brutish behavior toward women?

For myself, I think about how many more women are out there with their own sexual stories to tell about President Kennedy.  Who will come forward next and does it really matter?  I wonder how he could have ever found time to be a husband, father, brother, son, friend, politician, and the leader of the free world?  What was it about this man who could compartmentalize his life in such a way?

It’s a mystery, and one that historians and others will continue to contemplate.

Sadly, for Mimi Alford and for my long-lost friend, I think they are part of a very long line of women.  A line that seemingly has no end.

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1 Tammy February 13, 2012 at 10:18 am

Hi Nancy, timely post indeed. There will always be a mystique about JFK. I’m really not sure why, exactly. Power does seduce and he was a charismatic and handsome man. Still, one has to wonder about a girls self image, upbringing, conscience and the ability or willingness to tell right from wrong. Everyone makes mistakes, but those that fell into bed with this president don’t seem to think it was a mistake to do so. Baffling. We have to ask ourselves: does integrity in our leaders matter to us? So far, it would seem that it is irrelevant. Maybe they are right. I am torn on the subject. Do I really care who my president sleeps with? Probably not; but I would only vote for a man whom I believed possessed good judgment and a healthy dose of good character. So far, JFK has been famous for lacking both. Thanks for sharing!

2 nancy werking poling February 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’ve been interested in clergy sexual abuse for many years and edited a book by 6 survivors (VICTIM TO SURVIVOR). In situations involving ministers we usually say that when there’s a big difference in power, it’s abuse, not an affair. Consent by the woman does not change that. JFK’s power and charisma (like Clinton’s) led him to believe he could have any woman. It would be interesting to know of any women who turned him down.

Nancy

3 Nancy Wurtzel February 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Yes, I agree. My friend was very young as well. Thanks for bringing up this very good point — glad you came to read and please do come back!

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