Max Jacobson

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Max Jacobson
Born(1900-07-03)July 3, 1900
DiedDecember 1, 1979(1979-12-01) (aged 79)
Other namesDr. Feelgood
Known forTreating celebrity clients

Max Jacobson (July 3, 1900 – December 1, 1979) was a German-born[1] New York physician, nicknamed "Miracle Max" and "Dr. Feelgood",[2] who administered amphetamines and other medications to several high-profile clients, including President John F. Kennedy.


Jacobson fled Berlin in 1936, owing to his Jewish heritage,[3][4] and set up an office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where he treated many famous individuals, including Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Leonard Bernstein, Humphrey Bogart, Yul Brynner, Maria Callas, Truman Capote, Van Cliburn, Montgomery Clift, Rosemary Clooney, Maya Deren, Cecil B. DeMille, Marlene Dietrich, Eddie Fisher, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, Alan Jay Lerner, Mickey Mantle, Liza Minnelli, Thelonious Monk, Marilyn Monroe, Zero Mostel, Elvis Presley, Anthony Quinn, Paul Robeson, Nelson Rockefeller, David O. Selznick, Elizabeth Taylor, Billy Wilder and Tennessee Williams.[5][6][7] Dubbed "Dr. Feelgood", Jacobson was known for his "miracle tissue regenerator" shots, which consisted of amphetamines, animal hormones, bone marrow, enzymes, human placenta, painkillers, steroids, and multivitamins.[5][8]

John F. Kennedy first visited Jacobson in September 1960, shortly before the 1960 presidential election debates.[9] Jacobson was part of the presidential entourage at the Vienna summit in 1961, where he administered injections to combat severe back pain. Some of the potential side effects included hyperactivity, impaired judgment, nervousness, and wild mood swings. Kennedy, however, was untroubled by FDA reports on the contents of Jacobson’s injections, and proclaimed: "I don’t care if it’s horse piss. It works."[10] Jacobson was used for the most severe bouts of back pain.[11] By May 1962, Jacobson had visited the White House to treat the president 34 times,[12][13] although such treatments were stopped by President Kennedy's White House physicians, who realized the inappropriate use of steroids and amphetamines administered by Jacobson.[14] It was later observed that President Kennedy's leadership (e.g. the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and other events during 1963) improved greatly once Jacobson's treatments were discontinued and replaced by a medically appropriate regimen. Dr. Ghaemi, who studied Kennedy's medical records, concluded there was a "correlation; it is not causation; but it may not be coincidence either".[14]

By the late 1960s, Jacobson's behavior became increasingly erratic as his own amphetamine usage increased. He began working 24-hour days and was seeing up to 30 patients per day. In 1969, one of Jacobson's clients, former presidential photographer Mark Shaw, died at the age of 47. An autopsy showed that Shaw had died of "acute and chronic intravenous amphetamine poisoning."[12] Under questioning, Jacobson's staff admitted to buying large quantities of amphetamines to give many high level doses. The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs seized Jacobson's supply, and his medical license was revoked on April 25, 1975, by the New York State Board of Regents.[15]

Jacobson attempted to regain his license in 1979 but was denied. A state spokesmen stated that the then 79-year-old Jacobson didn't seem ready to enter into the "mainstream of practice" again.[12] Jacobson died in December that year.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hastedt, Glenn P. (2007). White House Studies Compendium. Nova Publishers. p. 289. ISBN 1-60021-680-3.
  2. ^ William Bryk (September 20, 2005). "Dr. Feelgood: Past & Present". The New York Sun. p. Online edition (not paginated).
  3. ^ Bly, Nellie (1996). The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal and Secrets. Kensington Books. p. 103. ISBN 1-57566-106-3.
  4. ^ Leamer, Laurence (2002). The Kennedy Men: The Laws of the Father, 1901-1963. HarperCollins. p. 527. ISBN 0-06-050288-6. Dr. Jacobson was a German Jew who had fled Berlin before the war...
  5. ^ a b Richard A. Lertzman & William J. Birnes (May 2013). Dr. Feelgood: The Shocking Story of the Doctor Who May Have Changed History by Treating and Drugging JFK, Marilyn, Elvis, and Other Prominent Figures. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62087-589-6.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ Pendergrast, Mark (2000). For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and The Company That Makes It. Basic Books. p. 255. ISBN 0-465-05468-4.
  7. ^ Rabinovitz, Lauren (2003). Points of Resistance: Women, Power &Politics In the New York Avant-garde Cinema, 1943-71 (2 ed.). University of Illinois Press. p. 87. ISBN 0-252-07124-7.
  8. ^ Bly, Nellie (1996). The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal and Secrets. Kensington Books. pp. 103–104. ISBN 1-57566-106-3.
  9. ^ Leamer, Laurence (2002). The Kennedy Men: The Laws of the Father, 1901-1963. HarperCollins. p. 450. ISBN 0-06-050288-6.
  10. ^ Kempe, Frederick (2011). Berlin 1961. Penguin Group (USA). pp. 213–214. ISBN 0-399-15729-8.
  11. ^ Reeves, Richard (1993), President Kennedy: Profile of Power, pp. 42, 158-159.
  12. ^ a b c Bryk, William (2005-09-20). "Dr. Feelgood". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
  13. ^ Giglio, James M. (2006-02-20). The Presidency of John F. Kennedy (Second Edition, Revised ed.). University Press of Kansas. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7006-1436-3.
  14. ^ a b Ghaemi M.D., M.P.H, Nassir (14 September 2011). "What Jackie Kennedy Didn't Say—and Didn't Know". Psychology Today. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  15. ^ Post, Jerrold M.; Robins, Robert S. (1995). When Illness Strikes the Leader: The Dilemma of the Captive King. Yale University Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-300-06314-8.

Further reading[edit]