The Secret Life of John F. Kennedy - History Key

The Secret Life of John F. Kennedy

It is hard to write something new about JFK but would be useful to tell what is already known or…not so known. The initials JFK are commonly used as a link to the name of the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, one of the most iconic American figures and also one of the most discussed.

We would say that JFK entered in history in multiple ways, but we will not discuss his political influence or orientation, we will avoid the Vietnam War and even JFK’s death, which is still being discussed and analyzed. We will stick to JFK’s background life, on his secrets and what should not have been known.

John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy ©


Born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts, in a family with a political tradition (both his grandfathers were Massachusetts politicians). John sent his application for the Harvard College in September 1936.

The essay included in his application form stated:

“The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a ‘Harvard man’ is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.” – JFK

No more a Harvard freshman, John became more serious about his studies, having also the first possibility to be somehow politically active, when he was sent as his father’s representative to make the arrangements for helping the Americans survivors of the SS Athenia. That was happening during 1939. 

After completing his studies and having spent some time in the Navy (he became the commander of a torpedo patrol) he entered the Senate in 1956 and eventually became President in 1961, the rest is well-known.

A young JFK during his Navy years
A young JFK during his Navy years ©


What is the secret?

Now that we have quickly remembered some general facts, let’s see what was in the background, what was being hidden behind the famous man?

JFK was loved by the Americans and not only, but he was also a human being and not some sort of saint or mystical figure, so even JFK had vices and stories to keep hidden.

We must state that Kennedy spent most of his life in pain, being diagnosed with Addison’s disease as a child, having serious problems with the lower back, chronic digestion issues and a serious addiction to painkillers.

This was the context in which Kennedy unleashed also his sexual habits, being both frustrated by several personal traumas but also always “electric”, with a constant desire for sexual conquest.

During his life, JFK had more than one venereal disease. He infected his wife and several other lovers. He was convinced that the only way to cure his migraines was to have sex with strange women. Imagine the context we are talking about.

His medical condition plus his way of life sent Kennedy in a long tunnel of addictions. He was constantly filled with painkillers, antibiotics, and even steroids. It is also said that that he experienced LSD and Cannabis.

Even if he married Jacqueline Bouvier in 1950, JFK had a serious addiction for women. Probably his most notorious affair was the one with Marilyn Monroe, an affair that is considered one of the causes for Marilyn’s strange death.


JFK and Marilyn Monroe
JFK and Marilyn Monroe ©

Considering that during the ’60s, Kennedy was taking around 12 medications at once each day, increasing the dose during stressful periods, we could say that he was living on the edge.

The Kennedy recipe was formed around the following ingredients: Codeine, methadone or Demerol for the pain, Librium for anxiety and Ritalin as a stimulant. We add barbiturates for sleep, thyroid hormone injections and sometimes alcohol.

The side effects related to these drug cocktails were inevitable. Depression was the worst one. Kennedy’s struggles against depression were treated with even more anti-anxiety medications.

In the middle of this drugs storm, Kennedy managed to remain somehow sober to the public. Robert Dallek, a history professor at Boston University and presidential historian states:

“I studied very closely his performance during these crises, and what was striking is how effective he was. He made a bet with himself and the country, in a sense, that he could be president, and he carried it off brilliantly. It was extraordinary.”


JFK loved cigars
JFK loved cigars ©

As you would imagine, Marilyn Monroe wasn’t the only one related to JFK’s lovers’ list. We will add some more amorous episodes connected to Kennedy.

It is necessary to remember another big name: Marlene Dietrich shared few hours with Kennedy at the White House, during 1962.

“It was all over sweetly and very soon… and then he went to sleep”

Gunilla von Post was a Swedish socialite, who described the 36-year-old Kennedy as very charming. They had an affair a month before Kennedy’s marriage, and they continued to meet also afterward. At some point, Gunilla told Kennedy that their relationship will continue only with her in the role of his new wife, eventually, everything vanished.

Starting with the White House interns to Marilyn Monroe or Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kennedy had some serious problems to deal with, and we are not referring to the Cuban Missiles Crisis.

Drug-filled Hollywood parties or sexual encounters at the White House are only what is known about the 35th President of the United States. With his death, many other details vanished forever, or they are kept in some very dark and remote folder.

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