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John F. Kennedy Went to Bed With Marlene Dietrich Less Than an Hour After Meeting Her

Photo Credit: Cecil Stoughton / White House / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer / United Artists / judygarland1969 / MovieStills DB
Photo Credit: Cecil Stoughton / White House / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer / United Artists / judygarland1969 / MovieStills DB

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was a charismatic and influential figure in American history. While he is primarily remembered for things like his leadership during the Cuban Missile Crisis and his tragic assassination in 1963, Kennedy’s personal life has also been the subject of much public interest and scrutiny.

One part of Kennedy’s personal life that has garnered lots of attention over the years is his alleged affairs. During his presidency and before, Kennedy was alleged to have engaged in extramarital relationships with multiple women. One of these reputed affairs was with the legendary German actress Marlene Dietrich, and he had an unusual question for her afterward.

‘That doesn’t give us much time, does it?’

Marlene Dietrich in a still for Stage Fright (1950)
Marlene Dietrich in a still for Stage Fright (1950). (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Carlito / MovieStills DB)

In 1962, Marlene Dietrich was invited to the White House. Dietrich later recalled the event to critic Kenneth Tynan, who recorded the story in his journals. Excerpts from these journals were later published in The New Yorker magazine.

While at the White House, Kennedy apparently approached Dietrich and said, “I hope you aren’t in a hurry.” Tynan’s notes recalled that she was. The time was 6:30 pm, and according to Dietrich, she was scheduled to receive an award at 7 pm.

Kennedy reportedly responded, “That doesn’t give us much time, does it?” Dietrich replied, “No, Jack, I guess it doesn’t.”

Dietrich told Tynan, “It was all over sweetly and very soon.” Kennedy then went to sleep, and Dietrich looked at her watch, seeing it was 6:50 pm.

She shook Kennedy awake because as she later recalled, “I didn’t know my way around the place, and I couldn’t just call for a cab.” Kennedy, dressed only in a towel, led the actress to an elevator and told the elevator operator to get Dietrich a car to the hotel for her 7 pm appearance.

‘Did you ever make it with my father?’

John F. Kennedy and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy aboard the Queen Mary, December 15, 1938
John F. Kennedy and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, December 15, 1938. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Before Dietrich left, Kennedy asked her, “Just one thing… Did you ever make it with my father?” The president’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, had been friends with Dietrich in the 1930s and had reportedly had an affair with another famous actress, Gloria Swanson.

Dietrich replied, “No, Jack, I never did.” In response, Kennedy said, “Well, that’s one place I’m in first.” And with that, the elevator door closed, and Dietrich never saw Kennedy again.

According to Tynan’s journals, Dietrich told the truth about her involvement with the president’s father. However, a biography of Kennedy claims she was lying to him.

Kennedy’s affairs

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara (1953).
Marilyn Monroe in Niagara (1953). (Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox / MoviePics1001 / MovieStills DB)

Kennedy is reported to have had multiple affairs with scores of women including actresses, White House interns and secretaries, a CIA agent’s ex-wife, and possibly a Soviet spy.

One of his most well-known affairs associated was with Marilyn Monroe, the Hollywood actress and icon. Monroe’s close association with the president fueled widespread speculation about their relationship, but the precise nature and extent of their involvement remain unclear.

More from us: This Is Why JFK Kept a Coconut on His Oval Office Desk

Another alleged affair that attracted attention was with Judith Exner, who was linked not only to Kennedy but also to Mafia boss Sam Giancana. Exner claimed to have had a romantic relationship with the president while simultaneously serving as a go-between for Kennedy and Giancana, which only added intrigue to the situation.

Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.