Larry Tye on Bobby Kennedy, and Marilyn

In a new biography, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, author Larry Tye briefly addresses the rumours of an affair between Marilyn and John F. Kennedy’s younger brother. (It should also be noted that they only met on four¬†verified occasions, so the allegations are speculative at best.)

“No one knows what happened for sure what happened when the doors were closed. The FBI tried to find out, but its reports on Bobby mainly repeated wild rumours, including those caught on wiretaps and bugs of Mob figures that Bobby easily refuted …

The most exotic speculation revolved around a relationship between Bobby and Marilyn Monroe, who was said to be having an affair with both brothers, consecutively or simultaneously, depending on who told the story. Again, the accounts were second-hand or based on tape recordings that supposedly vanished years before … The accusations don’t stop with infidelity. Bobby helped her commit suicide or outright murdered her – to cover up his affair, or JFK’s, or her ties and theirs to the Mafia – various authors and journalists have charged, starting in 1964 and continuing unabated. Then he concealed his complicity in her death, so the story goes, with help from the FBI, the Los Angeles police, and his own investigators and aides. The rumours swirled so feverishly that the Los Angeles County district attorney reviewed all the claims and counter-claims in 1982, twenty years after the sex siren’s death. ‘Her murder would have required a massive, in-place conspiracy…’ the off-the-record report concluded. ‘Our enquiries and document examination uncovered no credible evidence supporting a murder theory.’

… Eleanor McPeck, a Massachusetts landscape architect and historian, makes no claims of knowledge of any ties Bobby had to the movie star. She does assert that nearly a decade before he met Marilyn, he was fascinated with her. When McPeck was a teenager living a couple of blocks from them, Bobby and Ethel [his wife]¬†would have her over for dinner and to play a game of ‘Who Would You Rather Be With?’ You could name anyone you found interesting, she says, and it was all in fun. Ethel’s favourite was Andy Williams, who later became a close friend of hers and Bobby’s. Bobby’s, she adds, was ‘Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Monroe, repeated over and over and over again.’

Ethel has lived with the rumours for over fifty years, and she says she long ago stopped listening to or reading them. She tried to block them out then, too, although they must have hurt. She never disclosed any suspicions.”