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'Once Upon a Secret' describes intern's alleged affair with JFK

February 6, 2012 | 12:09 pm

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In her memoir, "Once Upon a Secret," Mimi Alford claims to have had an affair with President Kennedy that lasted for more than a year. It began when she was a 19-year-old virgin and he was 45, and she last saw him a week before his death, she writes. The book officially hits shelves Wednesday, but some copies are already in circulation.

One made it to the offices of the New York Post.

In the summer of 1962, Alford was a slender, golden-haired 19-year-old debutante whose finishing-school polish and blueblood connections had landed her a job in the White House press office.

Four days into her internship, she was invited by an aide to go for a midday swim in the White House pool, where the handsome, 45-year-old president swam daily to ease chronic back pain. JFK slid into the pool and floated up to her.

“It’s Mimi, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” she said.

“And you’re in the press office this summer, right?”

“Yes, sir, I am,” she replied.

Lightning had struck. Later that day, Mimi was invited by Dave Powers, the president’s “first friend” and later the longtime curator of the Kennedy Library in Boston, to an after-work party. When she arrived at the White House residence, Powers and two other young female staffers were waiting. Powers poured, and frequently refilled, her glass with daiquiris until the commander-in-chief arrived.

The president invited her for a personal tour. She got up, expecting the rest of the group to follow. They didn’t. He took her to “Mrs. Kennedy’s room.”

“I noticed he was moving closer and closer. I could feel his breath on my neck. He put his hand on my shoulder,” she recounts.

The Post continues the scene, in breathy detail. Alford, who is now 68, was Mimi Beardsley when she went to work at the White House as an intern. Her name came up in the 2003 book "An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963" by Robert Dallek, after which she decided to tell her own story.

White House staffer Barbara Gamerikian, who worked in the press office, was asked about Mimi in an oral history kept on file at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. In 1964, Gamerikian recounted an incident in Nassau and another in Palm Springs where the president and Mimi were spotted in circumstances that made reporters and staffers suspicious. "I don't know what the relationship was," she said. "It is one of these areas where I'm not anxious to know and I hadn't many opportunities to inquire."

Mimi Alford will appear on "Rock Center" on Wednesday night to talk about her book, "Once Upon a Secret: My Affair With President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath."

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: John F. Kennedy in California. Credit: William S. Murphy / Los Angeles Times.

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