Young J. Edgar Hoover was tapping his desk with the eraser end of a sharpened pencil; it was habitual when he was feeling agitated. And J. Edgar was agitated.
He kept staring at the picture in front of him and he was not happy. He had been running the F.B.I. for several years and had run it’s predecessor organization before that. He was America’s crime fighter as well as it’s collector of secrets. He had dossiers on everyone who was anyone.
He sat waiting for the two agents he summoned. He had a job for them.
He heard the knock on his door and bade them enter. “Good morning sir.”
“Good morning gentlemen. Please be seated. I have a job for the two of you.”
Two good looking strapping young men took their seats. J. Edgar liked good looking, strapping young men. He had his own secrets. Besides, they perfectly fit the image of what an F.B.I. agent should look like.
“I want you to follow this woman! I want to know why she is in Washington; why she is here!”
Hoover pushed the picture he had been pondering over slowly across his desk toward the young agents. It was a picture of a beautiful woman. Light hair. Sensual. In the late 1930s she would be classified as a dish, a tomato.
“Who is she Chief? What’s the angle? We’ll be glad to follow her around!”
This seemed like a sweet assignment for a couple of young Agents; sure beat following capos and made men.
“Her name is Inga Arvad. She’s a reporter at the Washington Times-Herald and I have my suspicions about her. She joined the paper several weeks ago. She writes a column every few days.”
The Agents were a bit perplexed. The look on their faces indicated they did not know why they were being ordered to follow this woman. Agents however quickly learned on joining the Bureau not to question J. Edgar.
“But Chief…..” Hoover slid a second picture across the table which he took from his secret desk files. It was a picture of the young woman with Adolph Hitler. Another photo was of Inga and the Fuehrer together in his box at the Olympic games in Berlin.
“What the hell is she doing here!!”
“You think she’s a spy Mr. Hoover?”
“For all we know she’s the new Mata Hari!”
“Is she German?”
“No. She’s Danish. She had worked for a reputable Danish newspaper and was assigned to Berlin as a correspondent. While there she scooped everyone and broke the story that Hermann Göring was soon to marry German actress Emmy Sonnemann.
She got invited to the wedding! Through Joseph Goebbels she secured the interviews with Hitler. In her article, a description of Hitler was later translated into English as: “You immediately like him. He seems lonely. The eyes showing a kind heart, stare right at you. They sparkle with force.” And now she is here!”
The Agents now looked at the pictures of the former beauty queen more seriously.
Hoover continued. “Hitler loved her! She got three interviews with him, one on one! He called her the “Perfect Aryan beauty’ and invited her to sit with him in his box at the games for chrissakes!”
“What else do we need to know sir?”
“Well she came to the States, attended Columbia School of Journalism in New York before taking the job here in Washington. She’s twice divorced and obviously she has many “hidden talents!”
Follow her and let me know everywhere she goes and everyone she sees! See what you can find out about her. I want a daily report on her activities!”
The young Agents knew the boss was serious on this one. They soon found out that Inga was not twice divorced but still married to her current husband, a Hungarian film maker. She had appeared in several of his films. She had simply left him in Europe.
Hoover was now even more agitated. “She up and left him there? What the hell is she doing here!!”
The Agents dutifully continued their surveillance outside of her office and her home. Soon they began seeing her in the company of a young naval officer.
“Find out who he is!” Hoover was now convinced Inga was spying for the Germans.
“His name is Jack. We heard her call him by name.”
“Jack who? Take some pictures and we’ll soon find out!”
Two days later the Agents reported back to the Chief.
“His name is Jack Kennedy and he’s assigned to Naval Intelligence.”
“Jack Kennedy! Jesus. Is he Joe Kennedy’s kid? Find out!!”
A day later it was confirmed. Jack Kennedy, son of the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain was apparently sleeping with a possible Nazi spy.
“I want their phones tapped! And get his Commanding Officer in here tomorrow!”
Captain Seymour Hunter appeared in Hoover’s office the next day promptly a 9 A.M. Hunter was told by the Assistant Director of Naval Intelligence that Kennedy needed to be put out of the Navy. Hunter pointed out that the situation was delicate because of Joseph P. Kennedy. Besides, he believed the young naval intelligence officer was not privy to information that would be “more than a bit embarrassing”. Hunter advised that Kennedy be transferred to a seagoing unit.
Meanwhile love was blossoming between Inga and Jack both of whom soon became aware that they were being monitored. They would speak while they were bedded together to “anyone that is listening!!” Jack, brash young man that he was had no qualms about being overheard while engaging in vigorous sexual activities. Inga thought he rather enjoyed the excitement.
J. Edgar was not amused. He opened a file on Jack Kennedy.
Joe Kennedy eventually got wind of the investigation.
“I don’t care how you feel about her Jack! You are never going to marry her!”
Joe Kennedy was not typical of his class most of whom sent their children off to boarding schools for years on end. On the contrary, Joe Kennedy was the extreme opposite, aggressively managing his children’s lives, setting goals, encouraging rivalries, demanding excellence. His political career was in ruins after FDR became annoyed with his pessimism over Britain’s chances against Germany should war break out. But Joe Kennedy had high hopes for his children.
“She is married, not a Catholic and not of our class! Even should she get divorced you will not marry a twice divorced woman!”
It was rumored that he also called Hoover as well as Inga advising her that under no circumstances will she marry Jack.
Both Joe Kennedy and Hoover found out that Jack had been introduced to Inga by Kathleen Kennedy who also worked for the same Washington newspaper.
Jack Kennedy was transferred to South Carolina the day after speaking with his dad and after a few more encounters the relationship ended. Jack went to war and his PT-109 exploits, was elected to the House three times, married Jackie, won a Senate seat and the Presidency in 1960.
Within weeks of taking office he expanded the powers of the F.B.I. Director J. Edgar. Hoover had files on everyone including the President.
There was no evidence found to show Inga was guilty of “any wrongdoing”. But that did not deter Hoover’s FBI from the continued use of listening devices when Arvad and Kennedy were together.
Inga’s past did not harm her professional life or social standing in the United States. She was a motion picture writer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1945 and a Hollywood gossip columnist, and from the late 1940s until her death she was the wife of wealthy cowboy actor and military officer Tim McCoy.
She stated on more than one occasion that she despised Hitler and his policies and looked upon her relationship with JFK as a “passing affair.”
She died on a ranch in Nogales, Arizona in 1973, survived by her husband and two sons.