Hidden Love Affairs and Dark Secrets JFK Tried to Keep From Americans During His Presidency

It’s fairly common knowledge that John F. Kennedy had some skeletons in his closet when he resided at the White House. But it wasn’t just his alleged affair Marilyn Monroe that the 35th president of the United States tried to keep secret. Family tragedies, health issues, and substance abuse all dominated parts of Kennedy’s seemingly public life. (And yes, there were even more affairs mixed in there as well.) Here’s a look at the hidden love affairs and other dark secrets JFK tried to keep from the country during his presidency.

1. Joe Kennedy bribed Jackie to stay with his son

John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy

John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy | Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Kennedy’s infamous wife, Jacqueline, knew he was an unfaithful husband and wanted to divorce him before he even became president. An unauthorized biography of her life reveals her father-in-law, Joe Kennedy Sr., offered Jackie a $1 million bribe to stay with his philandering son. Jackie allegedly said the price would jump up to $20 million if JFK came home with any sexually transmitted diseases from his mistresses.

Next: On the subject of the president’s health …

2. JFK took steroids

John F. Kennedy laughs with reporters after a White House press conference

John F. Kennedy laughs with reporters after a White House press conference. | National Archives/ Hulton Archive/ Getty Images

Kennedy was gravely unhealthy during the time he served in office, suffering from Addison’s disease and severe back pain in addition to stomach, colon, and prostate issues. Because of this, he was on a string of different medications, including various forms of steroids, and developed an addiction. (More about his medication use on page 9.)

Next: The president wasn’t the only one with health issues.

3. His sister had a lobotomy and was hidden from sight

Rose Kennedy (centre), wife of multi-millionaire and US ambassador to Britain Joseph Kennedy, and two of her daughters, Kathleen Kennedy (Marchioness of Hartington) and Rosemary Kennedy

Rose, Kathleen, Rosemary Kennedy | Keystone/Getty Images

The eldest Kennedy daughter, Rosemary, was born with cognitive handicaps and was kept hidden from the public for the majority of her life. When she began to rebel and want out of her sheltered life, her parents had her undergo a prefrontal lobotomy. The procedure left her unable to speak or walk. Nobody knew the truth about her secretive life for many years.

Next: This takes ‘keeping it in the family’ to an unhealthy level …

4. Kennedy (allegedly) shared a mistress with his father-in-law

Jacqueline Bouvier and Senator John F. Kennedy on their wedding day | Keystone/Getty Images

JFK’s father-in-law, John “Black Jack” Bouvier, reportedly didn’t like him when they first met. But the two soon learned they shared a penchant for boozing and infidelity. According to an interview with songwriter Cole Porter, Bouvier and Kennedy once got very drunk and seduced a callgirl in the same bed.

Next: On the family front …

5. The Kennedys had trouble having children

JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis with their son, JFK Jr. | Keystone/Getty Images

Jacqueline Kennedy got pregnant five times, but only two children lived. Her first pregnancy in 1955 resulted in a miscarriage, and her next pregnancy the following year resulted in a stillborn. Another baby, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died two days after he was born. The Kennedys did have two successful childbirths, however — Caroline in 1957 and John Jr. in 1960.

Next: As for Jackie’s well-being through all of this…

6. Jackie had electroshock therapy

Jacqueline Onassis, formerly Kennedy, arriving at London Airport in the back of a car, November 14th 1968

Jacqueline Onassis, formerly Kennedy, arriving at London Airport in the back of a car, November 14th, 1968 | Keystone/Getty Images

Having back-to-back miscarriages reportedly left Jackie with terrible depression, and she fought with her husband frequently. After one particularly bad outburst, JFK had her committed to a mental institution where she received electroshock therapy, her biography says.

Next: The miscarriages probably weren’t the only thing that depressed her …

7. Jackie outed one of her husband’s mistresses

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy | National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Kennedy maintained his skirt-chasing ways well after he became president. (Jackie even walked in on him with another woman in the Oval Office!) And by that point, his wife was fed up with the public facade. When speaking to a Paris-Match reporter, Jackie reportedly introduced White House staff member Priscilla Wear by saying in French: “This is the girl that’s sleeping with my husband.”

Next: Sad news you might’ve already known …

8. Multiple family members died in plane crashes

John F Kennedy (JFK) with his father and brother Joseph Sr. and Jr.

JFK with his father and brother, Joseph Sr. and Jr.| Keystone/Getty Images

The Kennedy family has been struck with tragedy many times, and there were a number of family members who died in plane crashes. JFK’s older brother, Joe Jr., died during World War II when his plane exploded. His sister, Kathleen, died in a plane crash in 1948. And years after Kennedy’s assassination, his son, John Jr., also died in a plane crash.

Next: So about the president’s health issues …

9. He had three different doctors to prescribe him medication

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy | National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Because of Kennedy’s packed presidential schedule, he allegedly preferred fast-acting drugs for his many health ailments. At one point during his presidency, Kennedy was consulting three different doctors for his issues. The doctors reportedly got into a fight over how to balance out his medications.

Next: Something to think about …

10. Did his health affect diplomatic decisions?

Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy

Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy | Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It’s believed that Kennedy’s abundant cocktail of medications affected him while he was working. He was reportedly on several drugs for his back during the 1961 Vienna Summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, which is considered one of the most tumultuous points during the Cold War.

Next: You knew we’d mention Marilyn in here somewhere …

11. Marilyn Monroe met JFK at Bing Crosby’s house

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe at home | Evening Standard/Getty Images

The details of John F. Kennedy’s affair with pop icon Marilyn Monroe are largely unknown. (Well, outside of her singing to him on his birthday.) Multiple sources believe, however, the two had a fling at Bing Crosby’s Palm Springs, California, home over a weekend prior to the infamous birthday incident.

Next: Here’s where Mama Kennedy comes into the mix …

12. Rose Kennedy had very harsh rules for her family

Rose Kennedy and Dinah Shore from the television program Dinah's Place

Dinah Shore and Rose Kennedy on ‘Dinah’s Place’ in 1972. | NBC Television/ Wikimedia Commons

JFK’s mother, Rose Kennedy, allegedly ruled with an iron fist. The matriarch revealed in an interview that she banned crying from the house — even the children weren’t allowed to show grief. She also admitted to weighing her children every week to make sure they stayed a certain size.

Next: As for Jackie’s family …

13. Jackie’s ancestry was falsified

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy poses for a photograph while holding a gift

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy poses for a photograph. | Kennedy Library Archives/ Hulton Archive/ Getty Images

The glamorous first lady grew up with many privileges. However, the image portrayed of her family before that was fiction. According to her biography, Jackie’s ancestors were peasants and her grandfather created a grand facade to make it seem as though they came from old money.

Next: Scandal didn’t end after Kennedy’s death …

14. His nephew was accused of sexual assault

William Kennedy Smith | Joyce Naltchayan/AFP/Getty Images

One of JFK’s nephews, William Kennedy Smith, was charged with alleged sexual assault in 1991. The woman who accused Smith met him at a bar and then went to the Kennedy’s Palm Beach home with him. She said he raped her, and he claimed the sex was consensual. Three other women were willing to testify during the proceedings that Smith had also assaulted them during the 1980s, but the testimony was never used. The trial ended with Smith being acquitted of all charges.

Next: Lastly …

15. JFK’s other nephew was implicated in the murder of a 15-year-old girl

Michael Skakel | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

About a decade after Kennedy was assassinated, 15-year-old Martha Moxley finished a night out by visiting neighbors Tommy and Michael Skakel — the nephews of JFK’s cousin-in-law, Ethel. Moxley never made it home and was found beaten to death the following morning. It wasn’t until 2000 Michael Skakel was arrested in conjunction with the murder. In a pretrial hearing, former classmates of Skakel’s recalled him saying: “I’m gonna get away with murder. I’m a Kennedy.”

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