New book: Kennedy's 'greatest love' -- but was she a spy?


NEW YORK -- He called her Inga-Binga. She called him her Boston Bean. His father broke up their romance because she might be a German spy and his son -- John F. Kennedy -- had a rendezvous with destiny that included the American presidency.

That is the subject of an upcoming book, 'JFK: Reckless Youth,' excerpted Wednesday in the McCall's magazine. The author is a leading Kennedy expert, Nigel Hamilton, John F. Kennedy Scholar at the John W. McCormack Institute of the University of Massachusetts at Boston.


Hamilton reports that Kennedy met Inga Arvad in 1941 sometime prior to Pearl Harbor when he was 24 and she was 28 and twice married.

'It was in the arms of the proverbial older woman that Jack found what he craved -- an appreciative, forgiving, tantalizing, humorous, intuitive love,' Hamilton wrote. 'Inga Arvad was the great love of his life.'

Hamilton quotes reports that Hitler once described Arvad as 'a perfect example of Nordic beauty' and her interviews with the German dictator and his minions, Herman Goering and Joseph Goebbels, was what made her affair with Kennedy -- who had already attracted public attention by publishing a book, 'While England Slept' -- eminently unsuitable.


'Over the course of a few months, suspicions that she was an enemy spy would lead to Jack's near dismissal from the servicee as the FBI, the Navy and Jack's father all hounded the romance to its doom: an episode that would be covered up for the rest of Jack Kennedy's metoric political career,' Hamilton wrote.

Kennedy was in Navy Intelligence in Washington when his sister, Kathleen, introduced him to Arvad, a blonde Danish journalist who wrote an interview column for the Washington Times-Herald.

She had had a similar job as Berlin correspondent for a Danish newspaper before coming to the United States with her second husband, Hungarian filmmaker Paul Fejos, just before the war in Europe.

'But even Inga's intimacy with Adolf Hitler and Nazi bigwigs was overshadowed, in FBI eyes, by her current relationship with Axel Wenner- Gren, the legendary 'Swedish Sphinx' who financed her estranged husband's film explorations in search of the lost Inca cities,' Hamilton wrote.

'Wenner-Grenm, one of the richest men in the world, was supsected by the American Secret Service of being an enemy (Nazi) agent and had been formally blacklisted by the U.S. government.'

Although Arvad protested her innocence, Joseph P. Kennedy brought pressure to separate her from his son. The chief of naval operations requested the Bureau of Navigation that young Kennedy be transferred out of Washington and he was assigned to a desk job at the naval base in Charleston, S.C., but Inga spent weekends there with him at a hotel.


An FBI agent who tapped their hotel room reported that 'she ...was seriously considering going to Reno to get a divorce from her present husband and marry Kennedy.'

It took an FBI call to Joseph P. Kennedy -- smarting from gossip that he had been pro-German when ambassador to Britain -- telling him that he, too, was becoming implicated in the FBI investigation of the Jack-Inga affair that finally put a precipitate end to it.

JFK told Arvad on the phone, 'You are mixed up in something. I wonder what it is? ...There is some background on you. You can see that. '

After Kennedy was assigned to active duty in the Pacific following Pearl Harbor, the couple resumed their correspondence but not their affair, although Kennedy visited Arvad in Beverly Hills, Calif., once, as soon as he got back on American soil.

Arvad had assured him she didn't want him 'ever to get into an argument with your father on account of me,' according to Hamilton who quotes one of her touching love letters:

'A human breast to me has always been a little like a cage where a bird sits.... Some birds sing cheerfully, some mourn, others are envious and nasty. Mine always sang. It did especially for a few months this winter. In fact it sang so loudly that I refused to listen to that other sensible creature called reason. It took the FBI, the U.S. Navy, nasty gossip, envy, hatred and big Joe before the bird stopped.'


Arvad divorced her husband and went to Hollywood, where she subbed for Sheilah Graham in writing a gossip column and was an MGM scriptwriter and publicity aide to David O. Selznick before marrying legendary cowboy actor Tim McCoy, by whom she had two sons, according to Hamilton. She died in 1974.

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