Warning: Contains sexual content and sophomoric humor. You have been warned.
Sometimes, politicians have a hard time keeping it in their pants. Consider the myriad of sex scandals that we have had involving politicians who twitter (or tweet?) pictures of their unmentionables, play footsie with undercover officers in bathrooms (wide stance, you know), and use the oval office more for exploring ovaries than running the country. It kind of puts the phrase "stimulus package" in a whole new light. I previously touched on the hidden dangers of dallying with the wrong person here. Most of us know about old Bill Clinton's little issue with Monica and JFK's affair with Marilyn Monroe, so today I will touch on some less well known sex scandals that have come up in our great nation's past involving famous people, not just politicians. Read at your own peril.
1. David Ignatius Walsh
Gay Nazi spies, a brothel and a U.S. Senator. Sounds too spectacular to be true, but it is! Or at least the allegations are true. Oddly enough, Walsh was probably not really involved in this scandal, but once an allegation is made it can destroy a person, even if untrue. In May of 1942, the New York City Police Department raided a gay brothel that was frequented by US Navy personnel. The New York Post reported that a "Senator X" had been a frequent, shall we say, visitor of the establishment. Since any discussion of homosexuality was off limits back then, they referred to the place as a "house of degradation". Allegedly the owner did not know that Walsh was a Senator and knew him only as "Doc". The papers did have a field day with one New York rag calling the place a "swastika swishery"! Eventually the papers named Walsh as the Senator X, thus outing him as a homosexual in a time period in which this was an absolute bar to holding public office. Walsh steadfastly denied the charges. An FBI report found that there was nothing to sustain the rumor that Walsh visited gay brothels and consorted with Nazi spies. Some sources say that FDR believed the report to be true. Walsh was defeated in his bid for reelection in 1946 and died the following year. The owner of the brothel, despite being promised leniency in exchange for his cooperation, was sentenced to 20 years for sodomy and served all of it.
2. Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle
Of all the things to be charged with, crushing a woman to death while in the process of sexually assaulting her takes the cake. And Arbuckle had taken a lot of cake in his day. He was a well known silent film star back in the day. In 1921, he checked into a hotel room in San Francisco and decided to have a party. During the course of the festivities, a 32 year old aspiring actress named Virginia Rappe was found ill in the room next to the party room. The hotel doctor took a look, said she was drunk, and gave her morphine. (Nothing like an opiate for a person who is suffering from alcohol poisoning....) Our victim suffered from cystitis which flared up when she drank, which was a lot. She had also had multiple abortions (yes, they had abortion back then). Two days after the party she checked into a hospital where a friend told the doctor that Arbuckle had raped her. The doctor found no evidence of rape, but Virginia grew very ill and died of peritonitis caused by a ruptured bladder. The police concluded that Arbuckle's girth laying on top of her caused her bladder to rupture, thus causing death. It was also alleged that he used either a Coke bottle, a champagne bottle, or ice in the course of his assault. After two hung juries, the third one acquitted him of any wrongdoing so we will never really know about what happened in that hotel room that night. His career, however, was pretty much over. This is considered by some to be the first major Hollywood Scandal but there were others which happened concurrently, so that may not be accurate. Needless to say, this is the only case that I am aware of where a person was accused with manslaughter after crushing someone while laying on top of them.
A cigar is never just a cigar!
3. JFK and the Nazi Spy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy could not keep his trousers zipped if his life depended on it. I often marvel at the blatant love affair so many Americans seem to have with Kennedy. If chronic cheating on your wife something to be admired? And last time I checked, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by LBJ. But I digress. Most people are at least partially aware of the rumors about JFK and Marilyn Monroe. (He shared her with his brother Bobby. Sharing is caring after all.) But what about his affair with a suspected Nazi agent? Her name was Inga Arvad. Old J. Edgar Hoover's boys were on her trail before Kennedy met her. She was a known German national who had met Hitler and so Hoover, in between cross dressing and calling himself "Mary", thought she might be a Nazi spy. When JFK met her, he was a young Naval officer working in the Office of Naval Intelligence. Arvad was married at the time, but that did not stop her from carrying on with young Jack. When Hoover's men learned that the young Naval officer she was seeing was, in fact, a Kennedy, they began wiretapping. No actual evidence of her being a spy was ever found, but the allegations were serious enough that the Director of Naval Intelligence recommended kicking Kennedy out of the Navy. Only his father's position as the ambassador to England saved his commission. Instead, JFK was transferred to South Carolina and the brief relationship ended. Inga was never charged with being a spy. Kennedy, however, did not learn his lesson and carried on more affairs as time went by. I wonder if he had not been assassinated if people would still think as highly of him.
4. Warren G. Harding
When asked about which Presidents had the most sexcapades, Warren G. Harding's name rarely comes up unless you are talking to all but the most half a$$ historians. Long before Clinton gave the word "intern" a perverted slant, Harding was using the oval office as his personal pimp palace. It did not start with his election though, and was part of a systematic pattern of behavior. Harding seemed to prefer young women. One of his most long running (15 years) affairs was with Carrie Fulton Phillips. 100 letters between them was discovered in Ohio in the 60s but a court blocked their publication until 2024, so we'll have to wait. He also had an affair with a 22 year old campaign worker named Nan Britton. Harding was 51 at the time. She would later claim that Harding fathered an illegitimate child with her. There is another tale of Harding being caught in bed with an underage girl at a seedy hotel in New York City. One of the Vice Detectives picked up Harding's hat while the two love birds were getting dressed and noticed his initials in the hat band. (Harding was a Senator at the time.) Rather than a trip to jail, the two were bundled down the freight elevator and put into a taxi. Harding handed each officer twenty dollars for their help. Harding might rank as one of the worst Presidents when it comes to doing Presidential things, but he ranks among the very best when it comes to philandering.
5. Errol Flynn
Lastly, we return to Hollywood, the site of so many scandals. I confess to being an Errol Flynn fan. I love Dawn Patrol and I enjoy a good pirate movie every now and then. Flynn had a reputation as a hard drinking and hard........fornicating actor. Fynn was alleged to have committed acts of statutory rape with 15 year old aspiring actress Beverly Aadland. Oddly enough, the two of them were being considered for the lead roles in Kubrick's Lolita before the allegations surfaced. Naturally they did not get them. At age 17, Beverly was with Errol Flynn when he died of an apparent heart attack. In 1961, he mother published a tell all book called The Big Love in which she accuses Flynn of robbing the cradle, which I guess he did. That said, I like Flynn for another reason besides his acting, he suffered from serious lower back problems, including arthritis and degenerative disc disease, both of which I too suffer from. In fact, when he collapsed he was at a doctor's house where he had gone seeking medication prior to taking a flight.
So friends, is there a lesson to be learned in all this? Perhaps. But I doubt that future generations of politicians or actors will learn it. Keep your pants zipped. No means no. And leave the underage girls alone. That, Dear Readers, should be enough to keep you out of trouble.
My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian.