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updated 06/02/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/02/2003 01:00AM

Being a Secret Service man in the Kennedy White House wasn't easy—and not all of the threats came from outside. "We liked the President, and we didn't like to see him compromise himself," says retired agent Larry D. Newman, 67. "But he thrived on risk."

Just how much risk became clearer on May 15, when a divorced Manhattan grandmother named Marion Fahnestock—a onetime aide to JFK's press secretary—revealed that she was a forerunner to Monica Lewinsky. "From June 1962 to November 1963," Fahnestock, 60, who runs a church's Web site, said in a statement, "I was involved in a sexual relationship with President Kennedy."

Born Marion Beardsley and nicknamed Mimi, the Red Bank, N.J., native attended Miss Porter's School—the elite Farmington, Conn., alma mater of Jacqueline Kennedy. Visiting Washington, D.C., in 1961 to interview the First Lady for her school paper, she caught the eye of Jackie's husband, who had her hired for a summer job after her first year at Wheaton College. According to a new JFK biography by Robert Dallek, she returned the next summer (though she had no office skills) and visited in between.

Apparently she wasn't alone. Besides his better-known mistresses, Dallek writes, Kennedy carried on with a few other staffers. Another ex-agent recalls flirting with an attractive woman during a JFK trip, only to be warned by a supervisor, "That is the boss's private stock." Then again, the boss had his own appeal. "I don't remember anyone forcing gals to see him," says a third retiree. "They tripped all over themselves."

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