Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ian Fleming and President Kennedy

I am a little young to remember President Kennedy. Too young for Johnson and Nixon as well, really. The first president I can remember is Jimmy Carter. I don't know if it is because of where I am from or that I grew up in a household that really did not follow politics. Anyway, when I write about Kennedy, Johnson or Nixon, I am doing so from a more historic perspective – or really, whatever my social studies teachers told me about more recent history.

Anyway, the following comes from my recollection of something a couple of social studies teachers told our class. I have no idea if these stories are true, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Josh F. Kennedy was an attractive president, and it seems that the press was in love with him. Actually, as a Catholic, I remember some teachers telling me that they did not know if the US would ever elect a Catholic president. Anyway, apparently President Kennedy invited Ian Fleming to the White House for a party. My guess is that the president did not specifically request him, but he made a list.

Fleming chatted with the president at the party – and said something funny. The US was concerned that communist-run Cuba (a mere 90 miles away), and Fleming had an idea about how to get rid of Castro.

Getting Castro to shave his beard was the key. Fleming believed that without the beard, Castro would look like anyone else, and the Cuban people would be less enchanted with him. He would not be as special. Fleming suggested that the US should announce that beards had hazards – that the beards attract radioactivity. Then any person could become radioactive him/herself, as well as becoming sterile.

Castro would then shave his beard because of the health concerns, and then he would fall from power. No Bay of Pigs (the Bay of Pigs had not happened by then), just radioactive beards.

Anyway, President Kennedy was amused/impressed, and said he would read one of his books (he wrote a series of James Bond books).

Anyway, later, at a press conference, a reporter asked what types of books he liked to read. Now I am not sure Kennedy was a particularly scholarly person. I mean, listening to the stories over the years – his daily sexual escapades with his "assistants" in the White House pool, for instance – I wonder if he had time to read.

But he was the president, and he could not say, "Read? I don't have time to read. I bone a couple of girls in the pool every day." Instead, he said he enjoyed books by Ian Fleming. Not that he read any of them, but that's what he said.

And, funny thing, Mr. Fleming and the James Bonds books, really became popular. All from party conversation.


LarryLilly said...

The same could be said about the Justices of the US Supreme Court. Some of their recent rulings have the appearance that they have in their possession, but have not actually read law books.

GW Mush said...

beards attract radioactivity, then you become sterile...... silly stuff cracks me up hehehe

Diane Mandy said...

what a great story!

Leesa said...

larry: reading books and comprehending them are two separate issues, sweetie.

gw mush: and to think that was considered remarkable in the '60s.

diane: not sure it is true, but it is entertaining.