Thursday, February 09, 2012

Ho-hum! So what else is new?

Among the American Founding Fathers, John Hancock was said to be a smuggler in Boston; Henry Laurens, a big-time slave trader; George Washington and Ben Franklin were supposedly involved in land grabs of dubious legality. Ben was known to have been equally successful at wooing French women as well as French financiers of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson had a love slave − literally: Sally Hemings, a woman of mixed parentage whom he owned. James Buchanan, who was the President immediately prior to Lincoln, was allegedly in a three- decade relationship with a southern Senator and slave owner. His illustrious successor too was believed to have similar proclivities. Coming closer to the present, Dwight Eisenhower had his “pretty Irish driver”, an Englishwoman named Kay Summersby Morgan. He wanted to marry her after divorcing Mamie, according to President Harry Truman. Ike even went so far as to request the Pentagon to relieve him of his command so that he could follow his heart. He was threatened with dire consequences if he indulged his romantic inclination. It fizzled out and, despite Ike’s solemn promise to take her to Washington as his secretary; Kay got the sack after he left Europe. In short, she lost both her man and her job, poor dear. Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern in the notorious Blue Dress, was only one of Bill Clinton’s many peccadilloes, in and out of the Presidency. That JFK took frequent and brief breaks from his high-pressure job with his numerous flings, including the one with Marilyn Monroe, is an open secret too widely known and accepted as an integral part of US Presidential lore and unlikely to raise any eyebrows anymore. So why should we be scandalized by the recent revelations by Mimi Alford, now a 69-year-old grandmother and retired New York City church administrator, about her 18-month-long affair with Kennedy in 1962-63 during her White House internship at age 19? Why indeed? The reader reactions to an article about a soon-to-be-published tell-all memoir of the secret life of Hollywood stars of the swinging 40s and 50s – long before AIDS and gay liberation, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars (Grove Press) by the self-proclaimed “facilitator” Scotty Bowers is along the same lines. No big deal how people chose to live in private. Anyway, who the devil cares about a bunch of ancient has-beens? P.S.: The cover page image at website shows a 3-word excerpt from Gore Vidal’s comment that lends a semblance of credibility to the 88-year-0ld Bowers’ book, though. The full comment reads: “I have known Scotty Bowers for the better part of a century. I’m so pleased that he has finally decided to tell his story to the world. His startling memoir includes great figures like Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Scotty doesn’t lie — the stars sometimes do — and he knows everybody.” yZRZEo,