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|Born||Marion Fay Beardsley
May 7, 1943
Texarkana, Arkansas, U.S.
|Other names||Marion Beardsley Alford
|Spouse(s)||Tony Fahnestock (1964–1989; divorced)
Marion Fay "Mimi" Alford (née Beardsley; born May 7, 1943) is an American woman who had an affair with United States President John F. Kennedy when she served as an intern in the White House Press Office in 1962 and 1963.
The affair became public knowledge in 2003 when a researcher uncovered the information in previously classified documents. In 2011, Alford wrote a book about the affair that had begun 50 years earlier when she was a 19-year-old intern. Her book is titled Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.
Marion Fay Beardsley was born in Texarkana, Arkansas but raised in Red Bank, New Jersey in privileged circumstances and educated at Miss Porter's School. While working as an editor in 1961 at her high school newspaper, the Salmagundy, she wrote to The White House and requested an interview with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Onassis was unable to fit a meeting into her schedule, but invited her to the White House to meet with Letitia Baldrige.
Beardsley went on to enroll at Wheaton College, a private women's college in Norton, Massachusetts. In her first year at Wheaton, she was invited by the White House to apply for a position as a summer intern in the White House Press Office, and she began her internship in 1962.
White House intern and Kennedy affair
On her fourth day in the White House Press Office, President Kennedy’s special assistant, Dave Powers, asked Alford if she would like to join a group in the residence's swimming pool, where to her surprise they were joined by President Kennedy. She was asked to join a cocktail party in the residence that evening, and the President offered her a personal tour of the property. After taking her into Jackie's powder blue bedroom, she and Kennedy had sex, which was Alford's first sexual encounter.
The resultant affair lasted 18 months, during which time Alford and the President had regular trysts. Alford said that they did not have sexual relations after August 1963, though she retained her position in the White House. She would have been in Dallas, Texas with Kennedy on November 22, 1963, but that weekend she was in Connecticut with her parents and the parents of her fiance, Tony Fahnestock, arranging their forthcoming wedding; President Kennedy had already given her a $300 wedding gift.
On the night of Kennedy's assassination, Alford broke down and confessed the affair to her fiancé. Fahnestock still wanted to marry her, but he insisted that Alford remove from her résumé all reference to her time at the White House. The marriage took place in January 1964. The union produced two daughters but ended in divorce twenty-five years later in 1989. She later married Richard Alford. Alford is currently a grandmother and a retired New York City church administrator.
Revelation of affair
Alford never spoke to others about the affair, and kept it a secret between herself and her first husband. In 2002, while historian Robert Dallek was researching his biography An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963, he came across declassified documents that mentioned Alford by name.
It was previously confirmed in general terms by Kennedy press aide Barbara Gamarekian, identifying "Mimi" by name in her oral memoir transcribed by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in 1964, and unsealed in 2003. After the interview transcript was leaked in 2003, on May 13 the New York Daily News headline ran: “Fun and Games with Mimi in the White House”. Alford confirmed the affair at that time but made no further comment.
In 2011, Alford released her autobiographical book Once upon A Secret, My Affair with John F. Kennedy and its Aftermath. In an interview with Ann Curry on February 9, 2012, Alford stated that at the time she did not feel guilty about the fact that the President was married, although in hindsight, "I feel guilty about not having felt guilty about Mrs. Kennedy."
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- Alford, Mimi. Once upon A Secret, My Affair with John F. Kennedy and its Aftermath
- Alford, Mimi. Once upon A Secret, My Affair with John F. Kennedy and its Aftermath. p. 125
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