Shelved Dolls: Judy Campbell: JFK’s Favorite Mistress (Who Was Not Marilyn Monroe)

Did you know that JFK was the first American President to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey? He was. The tradition is often said to originate with George Bush (#41) but that was just the first Official Pardon. When JFK was presented with a turkey wearing a bib emblazoned, “Good eating, Mr. President”,  he apparently turned to Jackie and declared, “Why don’t we just keep it?”

I think about that anecdote a lot when I consider JFK, because otherwise I just judge him as that jerk who really dicked over Marilyn Monroe.

Well that . . . and Civil Rights. Those two things.

JFK’s relationship with Marilyn was famously awful – you doubtless already know the basics, so I’ll attempt to keep the story brief – but, suffice to say, Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a happy woman. After her marriage to Arthur Miller ended disastrously, Arthur wrote a bunch of terrible letters discussing how he wished he had never married her, which Marilyn read, because Marilyn Monroe was Marilyn Monroe, so, of course she did.

In them, he said that he was embarrassed by her in public, and disappointed to show her off to his friends.

How could this Woody Allen lookalike be ashamed to show her to his friends?

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    • WitchHazel

      Great article! Very well written ;)

    • Sabrina

      Wow, what I wouldn’t give to live in such glamorous times! The president, the mob, Frank Sinatra! Haha, so what if they were all jerks and you had to fear for your life?!

    • Rezia

      I like this series very very much. I hope you keep writing about people I have never heard about so I can impress the people I know with off-hand references to Zelda Fitzgerald and Julie d’Aubigny while giving you exactly zero credit. Sorry about that.

      However–unrelated topic–one thing I never understand about you Americans is your fascination with Jackie Kennedy. She’s always seemed kind of dour and unpleasantly patrician to me.

      Now Marilyn. I understand that. She was ridiculously beautifully fragile. I love her. But Jackie? Eh.

      • Jennifer Wright

        I am so glad you feel this way about Jackie Kennedy too! Everything I have read about Jackie – from Warhol’s diary, to Truman Capote’s accounts, to the endless series of memoirs in Vanity Fair – leads me to believe that she was… I don’t think under “United States Lady Law” I’m allowed to call her a bitch. I think she was a very hard, cold woman. She seems pretty unfeeling towards those around her. We’ll say that. The only way I would be interested in writing about her would be from that perspective, and that seems wildly alienating to people. I mean, whatever else, her husband did die horribly.

        But yes, I’d take a Marilyn over Jackie any day of the week. (I also think Marilyn was a lot smarter than people give her credit for).

      • MR

        Yeah, but it’s everything you read about her. John John was a character, and Caroline is very giving person. Jackie raised them. What I remember most about her was she was a recluse. Such people don’t win popularity contests. I’m not questioning everything you’re saying, but only ask you see it from the perspective I just put forward.

      • EKS

        She was an introvert. Introverts are often misunderstood. I’ve read a fair amount on her over the years and I do not see her as cold at all. I would imagine it depends on one’s own characteristics and preferences as well as the biases in the sources of reporting (both firsthand and secondhand) that will affect how each person interprets Jackie.

        Also, I don’t think people need to take sides – being intrigued by one does not preclude delight in the other.

      • Jennifer Wright


      • MR

        She single-handily saved the architectural gem, Grand Central Station, from the wrecking ball. She was a tough cookie. TEAM JACKIE. :)

      • Jennifer Wright

        Oh, goodness, I forgot about Grand Central. That is excellent. They still have one ceiling tile there that’s not restored to show how filthy it was before she restored it, and I look at it every time I pass through (which is a lot).

      • Rezia

        I want to be on team Marilyn!

        I have never been to New York, but it’s one of those places I romanticize endlessly. I imagine Central Park is Romantic Comedy Land, and it is crawling, just CRAWLING, with handsome American men who are adorable and inexplicably love neurotic women (like George Clooney and Ryan Reynolds)(please don’t tell me otherwise).

        And Grand Central Station is like an outpost of Romantic Comedy Land. So saving that, and having a husband as devastating as Jack makes Jackie a little more likable. I suppose.

        Still. Team Marilyn!

    • lucygoosey74

      Awesome! I love the shelved dolls series! I can understand how Jackie may have appeared cold and hard though, her husband was a lying, cheating philanderer. Banging other women right under her nose with no consideration for his family. She probably has to shut off A LOT of emotions just to survive. I pretty much view Jack as a heartless pig who put the needs of his penis before honesty, integrity and respect for his marriage.