Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marilyn Monroe

The Kennedy Connection

In the ensuing year and a half, she was in and out of psychiatric clinics seeking treatment for her diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Marilyn was also being treated for her severe addiction to barbiturates and alcohol, which she used as a vehicle to escape the severe emotional pain she suffered and to help her with her insomnia. During that time, she began to develop a professional relationship with a new psychiatrist named Dr. Ralph Greenson. It would prove to be a rather unusual relationship built on dependency and uncommon medical practices.

Peter Lawford & Robert Kennedy
Peter Lawford & Robert

That same year Marilyn became involved in a highly publicized, but short-lived affair with Frank Sinatra. She also befriended several high-profile personalities during that time, including Peter Lawford, his wife Pat Kennedy, and Pat Newcomb, who became her best friend. The entire group would often spend time together, frequently attending gatherings or large parties at the Lawford and Kennedy homes. The guests were the who's who of Hollywood and at times high government officials would attend, including Robert Kennedy and his brother, then President John Kennedy. According to Tim Coates' Marilyn Monroe: The F.B.I Files, it was during these parties that Marilyn and the Kennedy brothers became acquainted during the beginning months of 1962.

According to friends of Marilyn, a relationship developed between Marilyn and the two Kennedy brothers. She was believed to have had separate affairs with the two men simultaneously. Her relationships with Robert and John, unknown to the public, became the talk of Hollywood. Marilyn was often seen dancing or in intimate conversation at private parties with Bobby or John. According to her closest friends, her heart belonged to the elder brother, John.

At the same time the FBI began to obtain information on Marilyn, which was assimilated into an ever-growing file on her activities. There was also rumor that criminal organizations, such as the Mafia took an interest in Marilyn, especially in her affairs with the Kennedy brothers. Marilyn didn't realize just how deeply involved she was in a very dangerous game with dangerous people.

In 1962, Marilyn moved into a new home, a Mexican style bungalow in Brentwood, California. She purposely moved to be close to the Lawford home and her psychiatrist, Greenson, whom she saw on a daily basis. Marilyn's depression and anxieties began to worsen, despite the therapy. On several occasions she accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills and had to be revived. In fact, her stomach had been pumped for drugs frequently over the last few years.

Dr. Ralph Greenson with family members
Dr. Ralph Greenson with family

Marilyn became extremely dependent on Dr. Greenson and would continuously consult with him on her increasingly complicated and troublesome life. Taking care of Marilyn became a full-time job for her psychiatrist and he employed a live in companion for Marilyn named Eunice Murray.

According to Wolfe, Murray performed many duties for Marilyn including driving her to and from Greenson's home in Santa Monica, receiving visitors and cleaning the house. She also monitored Marilyn's activities and kept track of her behavior and moods, which she would report to Greenson daily. Friends of Marilyn found Murray and Greenson to be unusually involved in most aspects of Marilyn's life. Some believed that Greenson's interests exceeded his professional relationship with the movie star. Others believed that he was after her money. However, these theories were never substantiated.

What was known was that Greenson was worried about her affairs, particularly those with the Kennedys. He believed that the liaisons with the two powerful brothers were emotionally damaging to Marilyn and believed they would facilitate her self-destruction.

Earlier that year, Marilyn's relationship peaked with the Kennedys. Marilyn was often seen in the company of either John or Bobby Kennedy. It was believed that Bobby fell in love with Marilyn, but she did not reciprocate his feelings, although she cared for him deeply and had maintained a sexual relationship with him.

President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy

Marilyn's friends agreed that her heart was set on winning the affections of John F. Kennedy. He would often visit her at her home or see her at the Lawfords, where they were said to have conducted their affair. Twenty-two years later, author Anthony Summers conducted an interview with Lawford's widow, Pat Seaton, who claimed that Kennedy and Marilyn frequently made love in one of the baths at the Lawford home.

On one occasion they were caught by a former Kennedy advisor, Peter Summers, who saw them come out from the bathroom together. Marilyn was wearing just a towel. Summers was quoted as saying, "She had clearly been in there, in the shower, with him. It was obvious, but neither of them seemed worried about it." 

Marilyn Monroe in a towel
Marilyn Monroe in a towel

The Lawford home was not the only place where the two would spend time with one another. Sometimes, Marilyn and John would secretly meet during Kennedy's travels and on one occasion that March, they spent a weekend alone together in Palm Springs, Florida.

John also spoke frequently to Marilyn on the phone during the beginning to mid 1962. He even gave her a private number so that she could reach him through the Justice Department. Marilyn's hopes for a future with the president began to soar during this time and she believed that he would someday divorce Jackie Kennedy and marry her. Summers states that according to Marilyn's friend, Terry Moore, Marilyn naively "imagined herself as a future First Lady."

In April 1962 Marilyn began work on Something's Got to Give. It seemed as if her career and life were slowly moving back on track. The following month she performed for John Kennedy at a birthday tribute in his honor at Madison Square Garden. Marilyn emanated sex as she breathlessly sang "Happy Birthday" to the president. It was a performance that sent ripples of gossip through the crowd because her desire for Kennedy was publicly displayed for the first time. According to Summers, the president chidingly thanked Marilyn for singing to him in "such a sweet and wholesome way." 

Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy
Marilyn Monroe sings Happy
Birthday to President John F.

The rumors about Marilyn and the Kennedys were beginning to circulate with fury. There was fear that John in particular would be caught up in a whirlwind scandal if his relationship with Marilyn continued at its pace. In the summer of 1962, Marilyn had become a security risk and was told to cease all contact with the brothers. The relationships came to an abrupt end and Marilyn was shattered.

During that time, Marilyn was said to have become severely depressed. She even told several friends that she would come clean about the relationships in retribution for the pain that was inflicted on her by the brothers.

But in the weeks just before Marilyn's death, her career and personal life were in a definite upswing. There were a number of new valuable film projects that she was working on and she was very excited about being involved in these films.

There was also the weekend before she died that was spent at Lake Tahoe. Spoto says she spent that weekend with Joe DiMaggio and that they planned to remarry. This is disputed by Wolfe, who says that Frank Sinatra had set up the weekend at the Cal-Neva Lodge at the behest of the Kennedys who wanted to make sure that Marilyn did not leak to the press the details of her relationship with the President.

Wolfe writes that DiMaggio came to Tahoe unexpectedly and arrived late Saturday night, perhaps because Marilyn asked him to come. Wolfe's research also indicated that the brutal mobster Sam Giancana was also there to ensure that Marilyn did not create a problem for the Kennedys.

Wolfe says DiMaggio was furious with Sinatra and the Kennedys for luring Marilyn there, plying her with drugs and then taking compromising photos of her to be used as blackmail if she threatened to expose the Kennedys.

The following weekend Marilyn was found dead in her Brentwood home. Her death appeared to be a suicide resulting from an overdose of sleeping pills. However, there were many who believed that she was murdered because she simply knew too much.

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