Diana de Vegh, now 83, (pictured) kept her illicit affair with then-Senator John F. Kennedy a secret for 63 years
An 83-year-old grandmother claims she had an affair with President John F. Kennedy when he was a senator and she was a 21-year-old college student.
She told The New York Post that despite the progression of feminism and the #MeToo Movement, she still sees too many girls devoting themselves to older, more powerful men, much like she did.
She told the Post: ‘The whole idea of conferred specialness – ‘You go to bed with me, I’ll make you special’ – we’ve seen a lot of that with Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, show business.’
De Vegh’s account of the alleged affair was previously documented in Sally Bedell Smith’s 2004 book Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House, with whom she told the New York Post she spoke with on a promise of anonymity – which was broken.
De Vegh met John F. Kennedy in a Boston ballroom in 1958 while she was a 21-year-old junior at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she told Smith.
He was on his reelection tour for senator when he gave a speech in Boston before sidling up de Vegh’s table and asking to sit.
De Vegh recalled Kennedy asking her date to give up his seat, she recalled to the New York Post.
‘Give me your seat, so a tired old man can sit next to a pretty girl,’ she
Her story differs slightly from what Smith had recorded in Grace and Power. In that account, de Vegh said there had been an empty place next to her when Kennedy asked to sit down.
De Vegh met Kennedy (pictured with his wife) at a political dinner where he an electrifying speech before coming to sit at her table. He would personally invite de Vegh to the next event and their affair started there and would go on for four years
‘Young woman, great man,’ she wrote for Air Mail News. ‘Predictable outcome: heartbreak for her, no consequences for him.’
Before the relationship started, de Vegh admitted she felt like she was ‘wilting.’
She wrote in Air Mail: ‘But here, now, in this ballroom, adrenaline poured through me. A star galvanizing a crowd… here he was. Center dais. Easy in the spotlight.’
‘Finally, a place to land. A place to belong. I just had to become part of this: glamour, drama, suspense. How would it turn out? Then, suddenly, the senator was at our table.’
She recalls wanted Kennedy to notice her: ‘I wanted to be one of the favorites. Actually, I wanted to be the favorite.’
Kennedy would personally invite de Vegh to his next event outside of Boston. She and Kennedy would have an on-again-off-again affair for four years.
De Vegh (pictured with her brother) told the New York Post there was an inequal balance of power between her and Kennedy and she hopes young women stop devoting themselves to old men
His driver picked her up from her Radcliffe dorm room, according to Grace and Power, and drove her these events and his staff would attend to her by grabbing her coffee.
De Vegh wrote for Air Mail that she later realized what they were actually doing: making sure she was inconspicuous at public events and not drawing attention to herself.
‘What could I have been thinking? Obviously, I wasn’t thinking,’ she recalled. ‘I was feeling, in full movie-star-infatuation mode.
‘Only this movie star was a worldly actor who was going to make everything different. And I would be part of it, carried along in the wake of his power.’
‘I didn’t realize then that I’d simply been netted.’
Then Harvard dean Mac Bundy allegedly heard about de Vegh and ‘became alarmed’ because Kennedy served on Harvard’s Board of Overseers and De Vegh’s father Imrie de Vegh sat on visiting committees at the university, according to Grace and Power.
Bundy allegedly told Kennedy he had to stop the visits and Kennedy ended the dorm pickups, but continued to see her, according to Grace and Power.
De Vegh told Smith for Grace and Power that she had seen Kennedy platonically for about 10 months to seek her views on his political performance.
‘He was looking for a mirror, someone who would keep reflecting back that he was fascinating and amazing,’ de Vegh told Smith. ‘Eventually it became a love affair.’
De Vegh admitted that it was easy to avoid Jackie Kennedy (pictured with her husband), as she did not attend these types of events
De Vegh claimed that she enjoyed the car rides home with the senator after the events and she would think of ‘smart things to say.’
Sometimes they would allegedly go back to ‘the apartment,’ as Kennedy called it, a place he kept in Boston. In the apartment, they were ‘something different.’
One night Kennedy allegedly told her he was hungry and took her back to the apartment. She convinced herself she was in love with him that night.
She wrote in Air Mail: ‘This was love, for sure. And…now, it was sex for sure.’
But she found herself wanting to flinch when he placed his hands on her and she was confused.
‘This was love… love not spoken, not the explicit words, but silently conveyed in so many ways. So why the confusion?’ she questioned in her editorial.
De Vegh recalled how different it was for women back then.
She wrote: ‘There were consequences for young women who might stray from the accept path. Nice girls, didn’t have sex. If they did, trouble started with a ‘bad reputation’ and rolled downhill from there.’
De Vegh remembered the lesson she learned from her mother, who married someone outside of her societal class which ended in divorce: ‘Men could be trouble, tears-and-long-days-in-bed trouble.’
When de Vegh graduated from Radcliffe, Kennedy placed her on Bundy’s staff as ‘a way to get even,’ sources for Grace and Power told Smith.
After Kennedy’s inauguration as president, de Vegh started working on Capitol Hill in a job Kennedy had allegedly arranged for her, according to book.
She eventually landed a job as a member of the National Security Council staff working in the Executive Office Building of the White House.
Kennedy would allegedly invite de Vegh into his private quarters when the First Lady was away and have dinner before heading for the Lincoln Bedroom. She called the high-carved bed in the room ‘like a cathedral.’
Kennedy had gotten married to Jackie Kennedy five years before de Vegh’s affair with him, something the young woman chose to ignore to stay ‘in my bubble,’ she wrote for Air Mail.
She admitted it was easy to avoid Mrs Kennedy, as she did not attend to events at ‘this level of suburban campaigning.’
De Vegh was allegedly dating Texas Observer editor Bill Brammer for at least part of the affair, and he learned about it after Kennedy’s inauguration.
Brammer allegedly told famed Time magazine reporter Hugh Sidey that he had asked de Vegh why she had the affair.
‘Nothing will come of it but he has a hold on me,’ de Vegh was reported to have replied, according to Grace and Power.
When Brammer allegedly asked de Vegh what kind of hold he had over her, she is said to have replied: ‘Power.’
Kennedy would be accused of having multiple affairs, including with Marilyn Monroe (pictured), as well as White House employees
Now, de Vegh is questioning her affair with Kennedy, a man twice her age at the time.
‘For a great man, he was still in the throes of the male mythology of his time: see a pretty woman, have a pretty woman,’ she wrote.
De Vegh and Kennedy allegedly began to lose interest and contact and she eventually moved to Paris.
A year later, Kennedy would be assassinated and de Vegh found herself in disbelief.
‘I just went completely numb,’ she told The Post.
A marriage bulletin in The New York Times shows that de Vegh would later marry Nicholas Rizopoulos in September 1964 and the couple had two daughters before they ultimately divorced.
Like her mother, she would eventually get divorced and find a new partner. But she kept Kennedy a secret.
Kennedy would be accused of having many affairs with many women, like White House employees and some even high-profiled actresses, like Marilyn Monroe.
Now de Vegh is ‘old and blind’ and works as psychotherapy for the past 20 years out of her West Village apartment and prefers it that way.
Since becoming a psychotherapist, de Vegh has penned many articles for news outlets from The New York Times to HuffPost on topics like love.
In the HuffPost article from 2016, de Vegh revealed that her aunt Ellen Jay Garrison had acted in a film for another man who has been hit by scandal in the #MeToo era.
Garrison had a role in Allen’s 1983 mockumentary Zelig, who had never acted, was praised by critics with her performance as Dr. Eudora Fletcher, the psychiatrist whose younger self was played by Mia Farrow, according to her obituary.
De Vegh recounted her aunt telling her that Allen had been ‘lovely’ to her during filming.
In one recent article for The New York Times, she details a humorous and insightful account of trying to buy sex toys at a sophisticated SoHo sex store in Manhattan at her elderly age and the stigmas around sex shops.
‘I find prudishness around sex shops baffling. I grew up in the 1950s when many of us were in thrall to Dr. Freud’s pronouncements concerning simultaneous vaginal orgasm,’ de Vegh wrote for the outlet.
‘In the world of psychoanalytically prescribed correct sex, the use of accouterments would diminish the primacy of the almighty male organ. Out of the question back then. But surely we’re no longer bound by male ego syndrome.’