Meet JFK's Alleged Mistresses — and How Some Met Mysterious Ends

From Marilyn Monroe to Judith Exner, these are the women with whom President John F. Kennedy allegedly strayed

Tales of President John F. Kennedy's infidelities during his 10-year marriage to First Lady Jackie Kennedy circulated even before his death in 1963.

In a 2016 cover story, PEOPLE profiled some of the women who claimed or reported to be involved with the 35th president.

However, in August 2021, another woman came forward with news of an alleged affair. Diana de Vegh said she engaged in a relationship with the president when she was 20 years old.

The affair allegedly began in 1958, making him twice her age. De Vegh said that Kennedy would often say there was "something special" about her, which admittedly captured her attention.

But this, she said, "is not a romantic story." In fact, she said it took "years to recover" from the romance — "almost as many years" as it took for her to come forward with her story.

De Vegh said that she was a junior at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass., when she attended her first political dinner, a benefit for Kennedy. She and Kennedy locked eyes from across the table. At one point, the Massachusetts Senator asked someone to give up their seat "so a tired old man can sit next to a pretty girl," leaving the college student starstruck.

John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy. Hank Walker/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

The two supposedly met up several times following the benefit. Eventually, de Vegh said, Kennedy invited her back to his apartment in Boston, and the relationship turned romantic, with de Vegh even moving to Washington, D.C., after Kennedy was elected president.

"What could I have been thinking?" de Vegh said, adding "I was feeling, in full movie-star-infatuation mode."

"For a Great Man, he was still in the throes of the male mythology of his time: see pretty young woman, have pretty young woman," she wrote.

Read on for more of the women profiled in PEOPLE's 2016 cover story.

Judith Exner

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Exner, who served as a conduit between JFK and mobster Sam Giancana, famously claimed that she had an abortion after she became pregnant with the president's child.

"Jack couldn't have been more loving, more concerned about my feelings, more considerate, more gentle," Exner, the daughter of a well-off architect, told PEOPLE of JFK in a 1988 interview.

Longtime gossip columnist Liz Smith, who wrote extensively about Exner in the years after the publication of Exner's memoir My Story in 1977, says Jackie was not surprised — and even fascinated — by what she learned.

"Her good friends Truman Capote and Gore Vidal told me she knew all about Judith Exner and everybody else, and she read my stories on Judith with high interest," Smith said.

Exner died at age 65 in 1999 after a battle with breast cancer.

Marilyn Monroe

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MPTV Images

JFK's relationship with sultry actress Monroe has long been the subject of speculation, spurred by her iconic "Happy Birthday" performance for the commander-in-chief at a May 1962 Madison Square Garden fundraiser. A rare photo taken after the performance during a party at the home of movie executive Arthur Krim — which was not released to the public until 2010 — is reportedly the only known image of Kennedy with Monroe.

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Cecil Stoughton/Time Life Pictures/Getty

In his 1997 book The Dark Side of Camelot, journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that the star's "instability posed a constant threat" to the President before she mysteriously overdosed at age 36 in 1962.

Rumors have persisted for decades of possible involvement or cover-up of either JFK or his brother, Bobby Kennedy, in the death of the iconic actress.

Mary Pinchot Meyer

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The sister-in-law of legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee chronicled her alleged affair with Kennedy in her diary, Bradlee later revealed.

In early 2016, a handwritten love letter from JFK to Meyer surfaced in an online auction from Boston's RR Auction.

"Why don't you leave suburbia for once — come and see me — either here — or at the Cape next week or in Boston the 19th," Kennedy wrote in the four-page letter. "I know it is unwise, irrational, and that you may hate it — on the other hand, you may not — and I will love it."

He continued, "You say that it is good for me not to get what I want. After all of these years — you should give me a more loving answer than that. Why don't you just say yes."

Meyer was murdered, shot twice at a close range, in Georgetown in October 1964. Her death is still unresolved and has often been associated with JFK-related conspiracy theories.

Mimi Alford

Mimi Alford in the early 1960s in front of the White House.
Courtesy Mimi Alford

As a White House intern in 1962, Alford claimed to begin an 18-month relationship with JFK — an affair outlined in her explosive 2012 memoir, Once Upon a Secret: My Affair With John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.

She found the president "magnetic" but told PEOPLE in 2012 that "he wasn't looking for a relationship to replace his marriage."

Alford also wrote that her alleged dalliances with JFK were arranged by the president's special assistant Dave Powers — the "procurer" of willing women, according to Kennedy biographer Laurence Leamer.

Jill Cowan

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Cowan was a secretary in the White House Press Office and often accompanied the president on official trips. She never commented on the details of their relationship.

She did, however, say that JFK was "fascinated with youth" in a 1965 oral history housed at the JFK Library. She also said in the same interview how much he admired his wife, noting he was "very proud of the fact Mrs. Kennedy had kept a book of all the place settings and pictures of the flowers, the whole sort of personal touches in the White House."

Priscilla Wear


Wear also was a White House staff member who worked under JFK's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln.

The alleged affair was apparently something that Jackie was aware of, according to Barbara Gamarekian, a Kennedy press aide.

While speaking in French to a Paris-Match reporter, Jackie commented about Wear, Gamarekian recalled in an oral history housed at the JFK Library.

"Mrs. Kennedy said, 'This is the girl who supposedly is sleeping with my husband,' and the reporter was utterly taken aback."

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