Forget everything you’ve heard about the ”affair” between one of America’s most beloved Presidents and America’s most iconic sex symbol. The most scandalous thing about them….is that there may not be a scandal at all.
It all started with this guy. Yes, this guy.
In 1952, while Marilyn was filming Niagara, a book critic named Robert Slatzer used his press credentials to get onto the set and take a few pictures with the up and coming star. Richard Allan, one of Marilyn’s costars in the film, did not have a favorable impression of him: “He was gewgaw over Marilyn since he’d seen Asphalt Jungle. This guy…hounded the Niagara set that day like a vulture. He got his picture taken with Marilyn, imposed himself on her….and kept snooping for personal tidbits. I didn’t like him..Marilyn said “He keeps asking questions and I don’t want to be rude..’ I told her “Be rude tell him to take a canoe down the falls.” That Slatzer guy never saw Marilyn again as far as I ever knew, as far as Marilyn knew and as far as anyone else in Hollywood ever knew.”
And then this happened……
In the May 1957 issue of Confidential Magazine, Slatzer parlayed his handful of on-set snapshots into a salacious tabloid article about Marilyn cheating on Joe DiMaggio with him. Although there is zero evidence she ever spoke to him prior than his Niagara stalking, she definitely would never have spoken to him after he went to the press with this trash. Marilyn was fiercely protective of her privacy and her inner circle, and anyone she thought had betrayed her was cut out of her life for good.
Seriously though, what does this guy have to do with Marilyn and JFK?
Stay with me now. Slatzer resurfaced in 1974—twelve years after Marilyn’s death—claiming to have known her since 1949 and to have been close friends with her over the entire course of her career. When he approached publisher Will Fowler about his book, Fowler told him “(You have) no proof at all that you knew Monroe or that she ever told you anything about herself. Too bad you hadn’t married the broad-we’d have a story to write.” But wait! Slatzer suddenly remembered! He HAD, in fact, been married to Marilyn. Secretly, of course. Never mind that he changed his story several times. Never mind that the ”witness” to the illicit Mexican wedding admitted that Slatzer paid him to go along with the story. Never mind that the date Slatzer claims they were getting hitched in Mexico we have receipts from her shopping trip in Los Angeles and photos of her at a Photoplay event that evening. Back in 1974, before we had the ability to fact check right at our fingertips, Slatzer was taken at his word and the book was published.
And now we get to the juicy bits……..
Naturally Slatzer couldn’t simply sell the lie he’d been secretly married to Marilyn, it had to be more titillating than that to sell books. The previous year, in 1973, Norman Mailer had brought Marilyn to the forefront of the public consciousness with his book Marilyn. It was the first mainstream book about Marilyn to allege a Kennedy affair. It was this book that started the conspiracies about her death, claiming that both the CIA and FBI were responsible. There was one problem….it was entirely made up, which Mailer himself admitted. In a July 13, 1973 interview with Mike Wallace, Mailer was asked why he wrote the book and answered “I needed money very badly.” He also admitted that he did nearly no research, that the Kennedy conspiracy would make it sell more, and that he did not at all believe she was murdered.
Slatzer saw the runaway success of Mailer’s book and decided to model his own after it. Thanks to Norman Mailer and Robert Slatzer, Marilyn’s life is now overshadowed by absurd conspiracy theories.
Lurid affairs, red diaries, tapped phone lines, knowing too much and holding a press conference……
All these ridiculous assertions that have somehow seeped into the public consciousness originated from Slatzer’s book. None of them are mentioned by anyone, anywhere, prior to the 1974 publication of The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe.
She never kept a diary (as she says in her own words in the above video). There is no evidence her phone lines were tapped, as she was freely making phone calls to Washington, DC in the month before she died, and no one other than Robert Slatzer ever heard about this supposed press conference. Not her agent, publicist, lawyer, no one. Marilyn was a woman who was always discreet and private, never said anything catty or vindictive, but yeah, it totally makes sense that in the society of the early 1960’s she would jeopardize her entire career to blast her personal life publicly and destroy the President of the United States. Sounds legit.
But who cares if this Slatzer dude was a liar? We all know she was having an affair with the President.
Well, here’s the thing with that…..Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy were undoubtedly the most famous people of their era. Their lives were documented in minute detail. Paparazzi is not a new phenomenon, Marilyn was followed by them and the press reported on her every move. John F. Kennedy’s presidency was extensively documented and not only can we pinpoint where he was, we can often obtain what time he arrived and left down to the minute. So, what are the facts about when they were together?
The first time……
Now let’s look at the facts about Marilyn and John Kennedy themselves. The above photos were taken on April 11, 1957 at the April In Paris Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. This is the first time that it can be confirmed that Marilyn Monroe and JFK were in the same place at the same time. It can’t even be confirmed that they met that evening, the event was covered by photographers from Life Magazine and they don’t appear in a single photo together. They do, however, appear in photos with their spouses Arthur Miller and Jacqueline Kennedy.
But I heard that Marilyn met him after the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles…..
The Democratic National Convention was held in Los Angeles on July 15, 1960. There is a claim, repeated by many authors, that Marilyn attended the convention incognito and met up with JFK afterwards. This story originated with Jeanne Carmen, who is the female Robert Slatzer. So how do we know it’s not true?
Because she was in New York at the time!
Marilyn flew to New York on July 3, 1960. She did hair and makeup tests for The Misfits (pictured above) and flew back to Los Angeles on Sunday, July 17. Two days later, on July 20, she flew to Reno to start work on The Misfits.
Didn’t Marilyn go to Hyannis Port?
Another author has alleged that Marilyn flew to Hyannis Port to meet with JFK at a party the weekend of September 22-24. Except……Joe DiMaggio’s estate auctioned off this telegram from Marilyn to Joe dated September 22, 1961. Marilyn had been on a plane heading to New York that had engine trouble and had to turn around and go back to Los Angeles. She said that she would be arriving in New York at 1 pm-which meant the next day, September 23. (in 1960, it would take up to 12 hours to fly cross country, according to travel expert Brett Snyder!) To suggest that Marilyn would have landed in New York the afternoon of the 23rd and then flown up to Massachusetts in time for a party with JFK (that his wife attended; she is seen in photographs from the weekend) is frankly absurd.
Didn’t she sneak into the White House?
Not according to people who were actually there.
Okay, but surely Peter Lawford arranged something?
Peter Lawford, actor and Rat Pack member, was John F. Kennedy’s brother in law. He also knew Marilyn through their mutual friendship with Frank Sinatra, and Marilyn became good friends with Lawford’s wife Pat….who was JFK’s sister. It is alleged that Lawford arranged for JFK and Marilyn to meet at a dinner party at his beach house on November 19, 1961. On that date, JFK was in Los Angeles. He attended mass at the Good Shepherd Church and then went to a luncheon at the Lawford’s. He left to head back to Washington right after the luncheon, as he had meetings first thing in the morning. (this is meticulously documented by the JFK library). There is no evidence that Marilyn attended the luncheon….but there is evidence that she was with photographer Douglas Kirkland going over the proofs of her photo shoot from two days earlier.
And then……there’s this.
March 24, 1962……the next time that we can confirm that Marilyn Monroe and JFK were in the same place at the same time was at the home of Bing Crosby in Palm Springs.
JFK started the day by meeting with former President Eisenhower and having a lengthy discussion about international affairs. (via AP) Marilyn’s masseuse and close friend Ralph Roberts told biographer Donald Spoto that Marilyn had called him from Crosby’s home to ask him specific questions about muscles of the back, and he said he heard a distinctive Boston accent in the background before being placed on the phone with Kennedy.
” Marilyn told me that this night in March was the only time of her “affair” with JFK…. A great many people thought, after that weekend, that there was more to it. But Marilyn gave me the impression that it was not a major event for either of them: it happened once, that weekend, and that was that. ”
Ralph Roberts is considered to be a reliable source.
This is what Secret Service Agent Floyd Boring had to say about it.
Ah yes, the famous rendition of Happy Birthday. Marilyn’s show-stoppingly sensual performance of the tune is often held up as though it were evidence of an affair. But let’s look at this more closely, shall we?
THE WHOLE THING WAS PLANNED AHEAD OF TIME.
These are photos from May 18, 1962, the day before the birthday gala. Marilyn is at Madison Square Garden, surrounded by countless organizers of the show running through her performance of Happy Birthday. Everyone knew ahead of time how she was going to perform.
Speaking of knowing ahead of time, it’s also rumored that Marilyn was fired from her last film Something’s Got To Give because she ran off to New York to attend the Gala. However, she actually had requested and received permission to attend the event six weeks earlier.
Jackie Kennedy didn’t go because Marilyn was going to be there!
No, Jackie Kennedy didn’t go because the event was not just a birthday party, it was a Democratic fundraiser and she always declined to attend large political events. She was at a horse show in Virginia at the time, a trip that had been planned for months.
A performance that sexy had to mean something was going on!
If Marilyn Monroe was having an affair with everyone she did a sexy performance for, where are the allegations that she was sleeping with the 100,000 soldiers she entertained in Korea in 1954? During that performance she was told that the lyrics to the Gershwin song ‘Do It Again” were so laden with innuendo that they could start a riot and made her change the words. Marilyn Monroe was an invented character of a skilled actress, and that character exuded sex appeal in everything she did. What did they expect Marilyn Monroe to do, sing Happy Birthday like she was at a five year old’s party? You can see in these comparison photos that this was simply how Marilyn performed…all the time. It was all planned that way.
But what about this picture? Surely it’s an intimate moment?
Only when it’s been cropped to make you think that.
They were actually in a room crowded with people.
But surely Marilyn and JFK met up after the gala?
Sure they did. The attended a party at the home of Arthur Krim with a few dozen other people.
But she went back to his hotel with him, right?
Nope. She was escorted that evening by her former father in law Isadore Miller. By all accounts, she absolutely doted on him all evening, never left him alone, and then escorted him home before returning to her apartment—alone—at 4 am. Her masseuse was there to give her a massage and then she went to sleep.
But didn’t she give JFK a watch as a birthday present?
No. No she didn’t.
Yeah, but I saw secret photos of Marilyn and JFK together that night.
What you actually saw were modern photos using lookalike models taken by photographer Allison Jackson.
But she was calling the White House nonstop just before she died.
According to the LAPD…..no, she wasn’t. There were no phone calls to the White House. There were, however, a handful of calls to the Department of Justice. While Marilyn was in heavy negotiations with Fox Studios to resume work on her film, Robert Kennedy had a film in production there. The majority of the dates of Marilyn’s calls to the Department of Justice coincide with her meetings with Fox. It is assumed that she was trying to get Bobby to put in a good word for her with the studio.
This is what RFK’s personal secretary had to say about the phone calls…..
From a 1985 interview.
This is Marilyn’s phone bill for May and June, 1962.
Remember that the Birthday Gala was on May 19…….
Do you see any calls to the White House on it?
Yeah…..neither do I.
So….what can we conclude?
There is a possibility that Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy had one intimate encounter, but they most certainly did not have any kind of affair, seeing as they only met a handful of times at mostly public events. However, because of Robert Slatzer, who kept selling ever more lurid tales to the tabloids, the myth of the actress and the President has snowballed out of control and has been repeated so often that the general public just accepts it as fact even though it’s fabricated.
The image of Marilyn that is projected through this tabloid lens is not that Marilyn that her fans know and admire. She is portrayed as a a needy, clingy, pathetic, vindictive woman who was utterly delusional….and that’s not who she was at all. She was strong and tough. She was a woman who walked out on one marriage that didn’t support her career. She was a woman who left someone she loved because he was abusive. And yet people think that she was so delusionally love struck with someone she met three or four times that she was going to throw away the career she worked so hard for, that she had just undertaken her own publicity blitz to restore her standing with the public, that she would throw it all away being a catty, classless, vengeful mess of a woman? That a woman who said that the thing in her life that she was most proud of was that she had never been a kept woman, the woman who was always classy and discreet on the few occasions she spoke of her past relationships, suddenly had a total personality shift and became a hysterical pathetic overwrought person who would destroy her own career and everything she worked for?
Do your research. Don’t blindly believe what a bunch of people who had ulterior motives (money and fame for themselves) say. The people who made these claims, every time they stopped getting attention, *suddenly* remembered something else they forgot to mention previously….oh, I went to nude beaches with her and JFK! Oh, I was the last one to speak to her that night! Oh, I was secretly married to her!
Look for proof. Learn who in Marilyn’s life was a credible source and who was not. Don’t repeat something as if it’s true because you maybe sort of heard it somewhere one time. Get comfortable with the idea that something you were certain was true just might not be.
Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy both accomplished a great deal in their short lifetimes. Both should be remembered for those achievements, not salacious fiction peddled in the tabloids.
By Marijane Gray for Immortal Marilyn.