JFK's Women: Scandals Revealed
Sunday March 10 at 8 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network
An explosive biography that reveals the real John Fitzgerald Kennedy – a President who was prepared to risk his political career and, at the height of the cold war, his country's security in return for sex. In a terrible irony, as the American Press finally braced itself to reveal the story, the Kennedy assassination in Dallas in November 1963 took his life but saved his reputation. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is still regarded as the most charismatic US President, an icon of modernity cut down in his prime. But the true story of JFK has never been revealed.
Professor Elizabeth Blackburn
JFK's Women focuses on his relationships with four 'dangerous' women during his Presidency – Marilyn Monroe, Ellen Rometsch, Mariella Novotny and Judith Campbell. All four were seen as security risks by the FBI, three because of alleged Communist connections, and one because of her close links to senior Mafia bosses.
The film shows how JFK grew up in a liberal Boston family in which the men were expected to have mistresses. During the war he had a relationship with a Danish journalist, Inge Arvad, who was suspected of having Nazi connections. He was warned to stop the affair, but he persisted. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover kept tape recordings of JFK’s love-making to Arvad. It was the beginning of a lifelong tension between the two men.
During his campaign for Presidency in early 1960 Kennedy began a relationship with a young divorcee, Judith Exner Campbell. Campbell was an intimate of some of America’s powerful Mafia bosses. The film reveals evidence that eye-witnesses believed the meeting between Campbell and Kennedy was engineered by the Mafia, as a way of gaining influence over a potential future President.
Using new documentary evidence and recently-released FBI files, the film goes on to demolish the hagiographic myth of JFK and Camelot that still persists over 40 years after his death. Even by 1963 JFK continued to be reckless in his personal life. His belief that he was untouchable, despite his blatant and extreme womanising, threatened to lead to his political downfall.
By the autumn of 1963 the American press was on the brink of exposing JFK. In Britain earlier that summer a sex and spying scandal caused the resignation of John Profumo, British Minister for War. One of the women involved in the Profumo scandal, Mariella Novotny, claimed to have had a relationship with JFK. She had also been sleeping with the Soviet naval attaché linked to the Profumo scandal. An American newspaper picked up the story and published an article with coded references to the President, suggesting he was involved in a vice scandal. The Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, had to intervene to stop the paper publishing any more details.
Interviewees include Bobby Baker, senior political secretary to the Senate in the Kennedy years, Cartha DeLoach, former deputy director of the FBI, and Professor Robert Blakey, former prosecutor in the Kennedy Justice department. Authors Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorrill, who have access to FBI files confirming the security fears about Kennedy's women, are also interviewed.