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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Former intern to tell of affair with John F. Kennedy

A former White House intern who had a 17-month affair with President John F Kennedy is to tell her story for the first time.
JFK - Barack Obama faces an even heavier burden of hope than John F Kennedy
A recent memoir claimed the president began an affair with Mimi Beardsley in June 1962 Photo: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mimi Beardsley Alford, now 66, a retired New York church administrator, will receive an advance believed to be worth nearly $1 million (£630,000) from Random House, the publisher, for her memoir.

Mrs Alford, who is breaking her silence after more than 45 years, maintained the secret about her relationship with the womanising president until a new Kennedy biography was published in 2003.

That book revealed that he began an affair in June 1962 with Mimi Beardsley. The 19-year-old student working in the White House press office was described as a "tall, slender, beautiful" by Kennedy's biographer, Robert Dallek.

Miss Beardsley was tracked down and identified as a divorcee working for a Manhattan presbyterian church who had told nobody about the affair.

She gave a brief statement confirming a "sexual relationship" had lasted until his assassination in November 1963, but has said nothing more since then.

In an added twist, the young Miss Beardsley was educated at the same exclusive private academy earlier attended by Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, who was to become the president's wife.

Mrs Alford - she has since re-married - is now working on a memoir entitled Once Upon a Secret about hiding such an explosive episode in her past for most of her life, the New York Times reported.

Susan Mercandetti, executive editor at Random House, said the book would be a "woman's coming-of-age story". She added: "It's about a loss of innocence. I was just completely struck by how simple, yet how profound, it was."

She declined to say how much Random House had paid for the book, but a person familiar with the negotiations told the newspaper it was close to seven figures.

Mark Reiter, Mrs Alford's agent, said that she was stunned by revelation of her story in 2003 and wanted to give her side of events.

It will not be a tell-all memoir, he said.

"She's just not that type of person, where she's going to spill her guts about intimate stuff for the whole country to see," Mr Reiter told the New York Times. "The story has three acts to it: before the White House, during the White House, and then the really powerful part is what happens afterwards. What's the impact on your family life, your marriage, knowing that this happened to you in your early life and you have chosen to keep it a secret."