Once Upon A Secret

Once Upon A Secret

My Affair With President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:

In the summer of 1962, nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. The Kennedy Administration had reinvigorated the capital and the country--and Mimi was eager to contribute. For a young woman from a privileged but sheltered upbringing, the job was the chance of a lifetime. Although she started as a lowly intern, Mimi made an impression on Kennedy's inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself.
Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next eighteen months.
In an era when women in the workplace were still considered "girls," Mimi was literally a girl herself--naïve, innocent, emotionally unprepared for the thrill that came when the President's charisma and power were turned on her full-force. She was also unprepared for the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world. Then, after the President's tragic death in Dallas, she grieved in private, locked her secret away, and tried to start her life anew, only to find that her past would cast a long shadow--and ultimately destroy her relationship with the man she married.
In 2003, a Kennedy biographer mentioned "a tall, slender, beautiful nineteen-year-old college sophomore and White House intern, who worked in the press office" in reference to one of the President's affairs. The disclosure set off a tabloid frenzy and soon exposed Mimi and the secret that she had kept for forty-one years. Because her past had been revealed in such a shocking, public way, she was forced, for the first time, to examine the choices she'd made. She came to understand that shutting down one part of her life so completely had closed her off from so much more.
No longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford has finally unburdened herself with this searingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. Once Upon a Secret offers a new and personal depiction of one of our most iconic leaders and a powerful, moving story of a woman coming to terms with her past and moving out of the shadows to reclaim the truth.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2012.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781400069101
Branch Call Number: 973.922092 Alfor
Characteristics: 198 pages ; 22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Oct 15, 2019

I very much enjoyed this book. It tells the sad tale of a young, naive 19 year old girl on a White House internship working for Pierre Salinger who's virginity is stolen by the President of the United States on Jackie's bed. From there on he uses her again and again any time Jackie is away from DC. It's not an affair, he never once kisses her. He's just getting his rocks off. But Mimi does share some intimate moments with him, some playful bath episodes, swim events in the White House pool, and vacations to exotic locations, for one purpose: To provide the president a vagina to ejaculate in. After JFK's assassination, Mimi breaks down and reveals the secret to her fiancee, and from then on she is not allowed to tell anyone. Keeping the secret destroys her marriage and almost destroys her. But she survives.

Feb 16, 2017

I could not believe that at the fourth day, her affair would begin with president John F. Kennedy. I have mixed emotions about Alford, as she volunteered in the sexual acts, and would perform oral sex on other man as the president would tell her too. She was his puppet, anything he said would be done. At an age where she could have easily said no, I also find her unconfident to stand up for herself at this particularly age. I'm glad she wrote the book. I enjoyed it. I think it must be hard for her to walk around, knowing that people talk about her with negative comments. President John F. Kennedy was sick, what kind of pervert takes numerous women's, to a pool, give them alcohol and have sex with them in their wife's bed while she is out of town.

Jul 28, 2014

While the indiscretions of President Kennedy are well known, the description of his behavior in this book made him look more like a predator, which he was. It is one thing to have affairs with experienced and consensual women; it is yet another to willingly and knowingly take a young woman's virginity - especially at that time. Alford told him she was a virgin, and yet, he went right on and took her first sexual experience from her as if he didn't have a care in the world. That was truly despicable - including the fact that he did this right in his wife's bed. This is a man who clearly had sociopathic tendencies when it came to women. I shudder to think about how many other young women he took advantage of. I will never look at JFK the same again after reading this book. Alford is a brave woman to finally tell her story and expose the truth about a public official who, though he does not deserve it, is still held in such high esteem.

May 20, 2013

Really, is this person a credible individual? Where's the absolute and concrete proof of what she claims? Yes, JFK did have several affairs (as also did his wife during that time), yet the women express entirely different sentiments than Mimi (Beardsley) Alford. I simply can't take her book seriously, given the in depth knowledge of both JFK and his presidency, which has had volumes of revisionistic nonsense and misinformation written about it - - once an historic figure has been assassinated, the long knives of disinformation come out; on President Kennedy, on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Bobby Kennedy, and on and on. (For alternate views: read "Mary's Mosaic" by Peter Janney, and David Talbot's "Brothers: Hidden History of the Kennedy Years".)

Jul 17, 2012

Such a good read! I couldn't put it down.

Jun 24, 2012

I have read many books on the Kennedys...books for and against.
I wasn't really surprised or put off with the author or this book.
It just is a horrible reminder of the down side of a great presidency.

Disgusting, shocking, sad book. Wish I had never picked it up.

Jun 19, 2012

This is actually a pretty sad yet entirely believable story. It's not exactly well written but definitely readable. In the end, the book shows how cruel men can be and how horribly power corrupts.
I felt a lot of emotion reading this book. Disgust,sympathy and shock. I'll certainly never look at JFK the same way again.

Jun 04, 2012

Believable & well-written

May 24, 2012

I don't think the book was as bad thematically as some of these other reviews would suggest. My biggest qualm with the book was Alford's writing style and tendancy to jump from idea to idea in almost random order. It read like her stream of conciousness as opposed to a book, but that is what I expect from a non-writer memoirist. That being said, I did think her story was an important one to have told. Superficially, the book was about her affair with JFK (she was one of many, as many history books and biographies of JFK have attested). Upon digging deeper, the book becomes a testimony as to what was expected of women in the sixties, and what little power they had to control their own fate. Furthermore, the affair seemed to be an exercise in control for the president, and seemed to use her as a means of feeling powerful. Half of the book deals with the damage that the affair has inflicted on her ability to trust men, and reflected itself on her relationship with her first husband. Alford was a passive player in her own life due to her upbringing. However, towards the end, she discovers her voice and comes to terms with her mistakes. I don't believe she should be haunted by mistakes she had made as a nineteen year old, but I do think she should have a better copy editor if she ever chooses to write another book.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top