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…