This Is the 1 Most Famous Presidential Mistress
The president of the United States must make decisions that cause war, produce peace, and change the fate of every nation. You’ve likely witnessed what happens to the man with the hardest job in the world — he typically ages decades while in office.
Presidents still make mistakes, however, and committing adultery is common among past leaders. Find out the juicy details behind the U.S. presidents who cheated on their wives. You may recognize the most famous mistress ever (No. 9), while another mistress was rumored to be a German spy (No. 12).
1. Paula Jones
Paula Jones claims she was taken to Governor Bill Clinton’s hotel room in 1991, where he asked her to perform sexual acts. Jones sued Clinton in 1994, three days before the statute of limitations expired. The case ended up in the Supreme Court — and the court ruled against the president. Clinton settled with Jones for $850,000, according to The Washington Post.
Next: Bush buffoonery
2. Jennifer Fitzgerald
Rumor has it that Jennifer Fitzgerald, former assistant to George H.W. Bush, had an affair for years with her boss, according to Politico. Bush had known her since 1973 and she worked closely with him for a long time. George H.W. Bush’s son, George W. Bush, supposedly knew his father was having an affair and was extremely upset about it.
Next: An American president and a Soviet sympathizer
3. Helen G. Douglas
A popular actress in the 1920s and ’30s, Helen Douglas decided to enter politics in the ’40s. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1944 and served three terms.
During that time she met future U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was still a Congressman, according to the website History Things. They didn’t try to hide their affair, but Douglas returned to acting in 1952. Scandal ensued when the nation found out Douglas allegedly sympathized with the Soviet Union.
Next: Bill Clinton in the hot seat again
4. Gennifer Flowers
During President Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, Gennifer Flowers claimed she had a 12-year affair with him. And she had audio tapes to prove her claim, according to The Washington Post. Clinton admitted they had “encounters” during a 1998 presidential deposition.
After that, Flowers accused Clinton aides George Stephanopoulos and James Carville of defaming her to protect their boss. Flowers filed a lawsuit and also named Hillary in it, but nothing ever came of it.
Next: What happens when the first lady catches you in the act?
5. Lucy Mercer
Eleanor Roosevelt caught Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lucy Mercy cheating in 1918. And FDR promised to cut Mercer out of his life. During his third term as president, however, he began engaging with Mercer again, according to The New York Times, and she was with him when he died.
FDR’s administration tried to hide the affair from the public, but it was futile after former Roosevelt aide Jonathan W. Daniels wrote his 1966 book, The Time Between the Wars.
Next: Oops, Clinton did it again.
6. Monica Lewinsky
Everyone knows the name Monica Lewinsky. She fascinated the nation when she had a relationship with Bill Clinton in 1998. Clinton was charged with perjury and impeachment after the scandal, but Lewinsky became a cult figure of sorts. She appeared in magazine interviews, wrote books, and marketed her own line of purses.
In the end, Clinton was impeached but acquitted. He left office with a 65% approval rating, the highest of any president.
Next: A military affair of epic proportions
7. Kay Summersby
A well-respected president, WWII Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower allegedly had an affair with Kay Summersby, a member of the British Mechanised Transport Corps during World War II. She worked closely with Eisenhower while he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force.
In 1975, as Summersby was dying from cancer, she had a ghostwriter pen her autobiography, Past Forgetting: My Love Affair with Dwight D. Eisenhower. It references “stolen kisses” along a woodland path and aboard “a darkened plane to Cairo,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Next: JFK’s affair with a 19-year-old
8. Mimi Alford
President John F. Kennedy invited 19-year-old White House intern Mimi Alford to take a swim with him during her first week at work. She accepted, and then she agreed to take a White House tour. That tour ended with a sexual encounter and an affair lasting almost eight months, according to The Daily Mail.
After the relationship ended, she was still allowed to keep her job. Alford kept the affair a secret, but in 2003 researchers discovered declassified documents pointing to the affair. In 2011, she wrote Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.
Next: The most famous presidential mistress of all time
9. Marilyn Monroe
Yup, JFK again, this time with Marilyn Monroe, who sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to him back in 1962 — in the sultriest way imaginable. She is rumored to have slept with JFK before her performance, according to Woman’s Day. Many also believe the rumors that Monroe repeatedly called the White House to talk to JFK and was ignored.
There is a number of conspiracy theories about Monroe and JFK. She died at 36, the year before Kennedy passed. Some think the Mafia had something to do with her death and some think the Kennedys did. Most agree that if she was killed, it was because she couldn’t leave JFK alone.
Next: This mistress spilled it all to the public.
10. Judith Exner
Kennedy became president in 1961, and he got busy with more than White House duties. Frank Sinatra, JFK’s friend, introduced him to Judith Exner, a woman with known links to Mafia leaders, according to the Los Angeles Times.
She had an 18-month affair with President Kennedy and also claimed he threw pool parties — with plenty of prostitutes as guests — at the White House. Exner wrote Judith Exner: My Story in 1977, a tell-all about her affairs with powerful men.
Next: LBJ strikes again.
11. Alice Glass
Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president, started an affair with Alice Glass in 1927, and rumor has it that it lasted for years. Texas governor John Connally, Johnson’s closest political adviser, chronicled the affair in his memoirs, which he published in 1993, according to TexasMonthly.
At the same time she was having the affair, Glass was the mistress to Charles Marsh (she later became his wife). Marsh was the publisher of the Austin American-Statesman and one of Johnson’s biggest patrons.
Next: Can you believe JFK is on this list again?
12. Ellen Rometsch
JFK had an early affair with a woman rumored to be an East German spy, according to the Daily News. Ellen Rometsch moved to the U.S. to run a prostitution service that arranged “dates” for important politicians. After her affair with JFK, the U.S. deported her back to Germany in an attempt to keep the affair quiet.
A White House reporter at the time said J. Edgar Hoover persuaded Washington not to investigate the situation, even though Rometsch was a suspected spy. He was angry with Republicans for even insinuating JFK might be in bed with Eastern Europe.
Next: Thomas Jefferson was no stranger to adultery.
13. Sally Hemings
Thomas Jefferson shook the 19th-century world by having an affair with his slave Sally Hemings, according to History.com. Jefferson allegedly had six children with Hemings — and promised her freedom. It looks as if the third president of the United States didn’t live a squeaky clean life, although he did wait until his wife died to take Hemings as a mistress. Jefferson owned around 200 slaves, many of whom he set free.
Next: Was James Buchanan our first gay president?
14. William Rufus King
The only president who was a lifelong bachelor, James Buchanan did have one fiancé, but after she died, he formed a “close” bond with William Rufus King, who later became vice president. They were practically joined at the hip and even lived together for 10 years in Washington, D.C., according to Time.
Next: Was Abe Lincoln bisexual?
15. Joshua Speed
Honest Abe Lincoln might have had an affair with Joshua Speed. They were friends from Springfield, Ill. and became much closer after Speed’s father died. Speed moved back to his father’s estate after his death, and Lincoln broke his wedding engagement to go with him.
They stayed tight during Lincoln’s time in politics, including his presidency, according to the The New York Times. Rumor also has it Lincoln slept in the same bed with his bodyguard whenever Mary Todd was away.
Next: A presidential date rape?
16. Maria Crofts Halpin
Grover Cleveland served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, and his service was surrounded by controversy. He had been seeing Maria Halpin when they ran into each other on the street one evening. Cleveland persuaded her to have dinner, then took her back to her boarding house and date raped her, according to the Daily Beast.
Halpin became pregnant after the assault and named the child Oscar Folsom Cleveland. A famous political cartoon at the time showed Cleveland turning his back on Maria, who was carrying a crying child.
Next: Seriously? George Washington?
George Washington took a page out of Thomas Jefferson’s playbook. At the age of 11, he inherited 10 slaves from his father, a number he grew to more than 300, according to the website George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Many believe he fathered at least one child from Venus, a slave from his Mt. Vernon plantation. West Ford was the child’s name, and his descendants still claim they are in George Washington’s bloodline.
Next: Warren Harding’s heyday
18. Nan Britton
Warren Harding left office amid a number of scandals. One involved him fathering an illegitimate child with Nan Britton, an American secretary. She maintained that her daughter Elizabeth was Harding’s until she died at 94 in 1991. In 2015, DNA tests from Ancestry.com showed that Elizabeth was indeed Warren Harding’s child, according to The New York Times.
Next: Another Warren Harding scandal
19. Carrie Fulton Phillips
Warren Harding’s affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips started in the late 1910s, according to the website resharable. They took extended tours of Europe together until Harding decided to vote for a war with Germany.
Phillips, a major supporter of Germany during World War II, told Harding she would expose the affair to the American public if he voted to go to war. Harding made the best of a bad situation: He admitted to the affair in the summer of 1920 and thwarted her blackmail scheme.
Next: A May-September romance
20. Lucia Gilbert Calhoun
James Garfield, the United States’ 20th president, had a relationship with an 18-year-old New York Times reporter named Lucia Gilbert Calhoun, according to the website Mental Floss. Apparently, Garfield had a conscience, because he admitted the affair to his wife, Lucretia. He also admitted to having affairs with two other women, Rebecca Selleck and Almeda Booth.
Garfield’s wife gave him an ultimatum: Get a divorce or end the affair with Calhoun. He broke it off in person with Calhoun, which his wife insisted upon.
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