President John F. Kennedy, whose sexual exploits became public knowledge only long after his death, had a brief tryst with screen siren Marlene Dietrich in the White House in 1962, according to the journals of a noted critic published in The New Yorker magazine.
Dietrich, some 20 years Kennedy’s senior, told the story of her alleged White House assignation with the president to the late critic Kenneth Tynan, who recorded it in his journals, excerpts of which were published in The New Yorker.
“I hope you aren’t in a hurry,” Dietrich quoted Kennedy as saying when the German actress arrived after accepting an invitation for drinks at the White House, according to The New Yorker.
Dietrich, according to Tynan’s journal entry from April 4, 1971, replied that, in fact, she was in a hurry, as “2,000 Jews were waiting to give her a plaque at 7 p.m., and it was now 6:30.”
“That doesn’t give us much time, does it?” Kennedy said, to which Dietrich replied, “No, Jack, I guess it doesn’t.”
“It was all over sweetly and very soon,” Tynan recounted, quoting Dietrich as telling him, “And then he went to sleep. I looked at my watch and it was 6:50.”
Dietrich said she shook Kennedy awake “because I didn’t know my way around the place, and I couldn’t just call for a cab.” With that the president, clad only in a towel, led the glamorous actress to an elevator, telling the elevator operator to get her a car to the hotel for her scheduled appearance.
As she departed, Dietrich said Kennedy asked her “just one thing. ... Did you ever make it with my father?”
Joseph P. Kennedy was friends with Dietrich during the 1930s and had a well-documented affair with another Hollywood siren, Gloria Swanson.
“‘No Jack,’ I answered truthfully, ‘I never did,“‘ Dietrich said, according to The New Yorker.
“‘Well,’ he said, ‘that’s one place I’m in first.’ Then the lift door closed and I never saw him again.”