Former White House intern Mimi Alford, now 69, has divulged some salacious details of an alleged affair with President John F. Kennedy that began at the White House when she was 19.
Alford sat down with NBC's Meredith Viera for a candid interview that aired Wednesday night on Rock Center, and gave a live interview Thursday morning with Ann Curry on Today.
The press coincides with Alford's just-published account of the affair, Once Upon a Secret, which The New York Times called the strangest memoir about secrets and lies since 'The Politician.'
Alford - who was then known as Mimi Beardsley - insists she was a willing participant in the affair, though she admitted to feeling overpowered by the President; but in an emotional, not a physical, sense. She claims to have been a virgin on her fourth day of work in the White House Press Office when JFK took her on a tour of the house that ended in Jackie Kennedy's bedroom.
If I had said no, I think the President would have stopped, she told Viera. But I didn't.
Though Alford seems to believe the President genuinely cared for her, she admitted to Viera that it wasn't a romantic affair. I don't really ever remember the President kissing me, and that makes me sad.
Still, she apparently was unaware of JFK's reputation as a first-class womanizer. I assumed I was the only one and it made me feel very special.
Probably the most shocking reveal in Alford's somewhat deluded account of her 18-month relationship with the President is her claim that JFK twice requested that she 'take care of' other men. She agreed to perform a sex act on JFK's aide Dave Powers, but refused when he asked her to do the same for his brother Ted Kennedy.
Mimi, why don't you take care of my baby brother, JFK reportedly asked her in a Boston hotel suite in 1963. He could stand a little relaxation.
Now looking back I can see that it's not a good place for a 19-year-old to be, Alford told Viera. In a relationship that's so imbalanced and with such a powerful person, and an older man, and at the beckon call. I see how sad it was but that is not how I felt at the time.
The former intern claims to have told only her fiancée, who she met during the time she was seeing the President, about the Presidential affair. Her future husband insisted that she never mention it again, and it appears she may have complied.
The affair remained a secret until biographer Robert Dallek mentioned it in his book An Unfinished life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963. Though Dallek's account did not publish the intern's full name, the New York Daily News reportedly put two and two together, and Alford confirmed she was the intern in question.
So why now?
For starters, Alford is no longer married to the man who demanded she keep the affair a secret. (She blames the emotional aftermath on the affair for contributing to the demise of her first marriage).
I think when you keep a secret...you do it because you think it keeps you safe, she said. But it's deadly.
In one of the most affecting segments of the interview, Alford told Viera that it took it wasn't until 2005 that she felt she had permission to speak - which she found in a most unusual place.
For years I wanted to dream about the President, she said, but for decades he eluded her unconscious mind. When she finally did see him in a dream, she claims to have told him: You don't have to hide me anymore.
Though many have questioned Alford's decision to come forward now - when most people who may have been able to corroborate her story - Viera told Brian Williams she finds the former intern's story credible.
While Alford may regret keeping the affair a secret for so long, she seems grateful for her time with the President, indicating she would do it all over again.
I don't actually regret that I had the affair with President Kennedy, she said. It was too much fun.