Mistress of US President John F. Kennedy and Mafia leader Sam Giancana, her disclosure of her relationship with the men diminished the near legendary stature of the deceased president by revealing a scandal during his administration. Born Judith Eileen Katherine Immoor, she was the daughter of a German architect in New York City. While still a young child, her family moved to Los Angeles, California, where she married actor William Campbell in 1952. Six years later, she divorced her husband after becoming involved with singer Frank Sinatra. On February 7, 1960, Sinatra introduced her to Senator and Presidential Candidate John F. Kennedy while Kennedy was visiting Las Vegas. There she soon became one of Kennedy’s mistresses. Later, Sinatra introduced her to Sam Flood, the pseudonym of Mafia boss Sam Giancana. After Kennedy was elected President, she continued their affair. The FBI had her followed and recorded her telephone calls from Giancana’s house to Kennedy. In 1962, when the FBI informed the President where her calls were originating from, Kennedy immediately broke off the affair. In an interview in 1996 with “Vanity Fair” magazine, Exner stated that she began the affair with Giancana, but broke it off when he proposed to her. She finally ended the JFK affair because she was “tired of being the other woman.” She also claimed that she became pregnant with Kennedy’s child, but decided to have an abortion to avoid embarrassing the President. She further claimed that she carried kickback money to the Kennedy brothers (including Robert F. Kennedy) from California defense contractors. In 1975, she married golfer Dan Exner, living in Newport Beach, California; the two were separated in 1988. Exner did not reveal her relationship with President Kennedy until it was revealed during the 1975 Church Committee investigation into Mafia ties to the White House. Although she had kept her role secret, somehow the Church Committee found out about her Mafia ties and subpoenaed her for testimony. Although the committee did not name her in their reports, her name was leaked to the press, and the resulting publicity both ruined her reputation and earned her the hatred from the many Kennedy supporters. She would write an autobiography, “Judith Exner: My Story” (1977), in which she would claim that her relationship with JFK was personal and that she was never an intermediary between Kennedy and the Mafia. Eleven years later, during an interview with “People” magazine, she would state that during the 1960 Presidential Election she would carry messages from Giancana to Kennedy, including some messages that discussed killing Cuban President Fidel Castro. Because of her often-changing stories, many people did not believe anything she stated, and most consider her stories after 1977 as extremely improbable. Judith Exner died in Duarte, California, from breast cancer.
- January, 11, 1934
- September, 24, 1999