The Adobe Flash Player is required to view this multimedia interactive. Get it here.
Web Search by YAHOO!


PB Upd8

Home > PB Upd8 > Archives > 2008 > March > 26 > Entry

JFK ‘Secret Marriage’ A Story With Legs

Durie Malcolm Bersbach Desloge Shevlin Appleton spent a lifetime denying she was ever married to John F. Kennedy, a story that outlives Mrs. Appleton, who passed away March 17. (Link: Durie M. Appleton, Linked To JFK, Dies)

Legions of sleuths have tried over the years to find proof of a late-1940s marriage. Seymour Hersh reported in his 1997 book The Dark Side of Camelot that Kennedy friend Charles Spalding said he destroyed all evidence. Both sides always denied the marriage had taken place.

So where’d the story come from?


Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. with sons Joe Jr. and Jack, Palm Beach, 1931.

A Sept. 28, 1962 Time magazine article (Link: An American Genealogy), credits it to the 1957 book The Blauvelt Family Genealogy, which the magazine hilariously nominated for “any alltime worstseller list.” (The family’s Web site is

It contained the following:

“(12,427) DURIE (Kerr) MALCOM (sic) (Isabel O. Cooper, 11,304). We have no birth date. She was born Kerr, but took the name of her stepfather. She first married Firmin Desloge, IV. They were divorced. Durie then married F. John Bersbach. They were divorced and she married, third, John F. Kennedy, son of Joseph P. Kennedy, one time Ambassador to England. There were no children of the second or third marriages.”

Time said the author, Louis L. Blauvelt, spent 35 years compiling the book’s 25,000 bios but acknowledged there might be errors in his 1,100 pages. The article pointed out that Blauvelt misspelled Malcolm, “Malcom,” transposed marriages 1 and 2, and omitted her almost decade-old marriage to Thomas Shevlin.

This one paragraph bombshell found its way into the hands of anti-Kennedy factions, who mass-mailed it around the country. The news then reached the ears of major media organizations, or as Time put it, “it had gone far beyond crackpots.”

Durie Shevlin told Time in 1962: “It’s absolutely false and ridiculous. I’m not even sure how the story began. I’ve been married to Mr. Shevlin for 15 or 16 years, and previously I was married for a short time to John Bersbach and them to Firmin Desloge, by whom I had a daughter who’s 20 now. I know the president’s family well and have known him for a long time, and saw him years ago at Palm Beach and once went with him and his family to an Orange Bowl game in Miami. I’ve rarely seen him since.”

That was her story, and she stuck with it. She was 91.

The Smoking Gun has some interesting documents on l’affaire Blauvelt, including a memorandum from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

Photograph: By E. F. Foley in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Copyright John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Permalink | Comments (8) | Post your comment | Categories: Around Town, History, People


By Tom Manley

March 1, 2009 11:57 AM | Link to this

E F Foley was my aunt Blanche Manleys husband; They were married in PB on Jan. 17,1928. E F was famous for his work both there and in Manhattans social scene 20s-40s. Do you have an archive there I may search?

By phrage

November 1, 2010 4:27 PM | Link to this

1n 1997 a plumber supposedly found papers confirming the marriage hidden in a house in London.Some said these were forgerie.s

By phrage frenta

November 1, 2010 4:28 PM | Link to this

1n 1997 a plumber supposedly found papers confirming the marriage hidden in a house in London.Some said these were forgeries.

By brian walker

February 12, 2011 2:04 PM | Link to this

Jfk visited sen. Robert S. Kerr in Oklahoma while president…he stayed at the Kerr home outside poteau Oklahoma…this is now the site of a Kerr museum and odd b&b…the place is crawling with Kennedy pics…well documented trip…he dedicated the 3 sticks monument while there…Kerr…related to durie????

By Free Poker Money

March 2, 2011 2:31 PM | Link to this

Howdy tasting this page was very digestive , views in this way highlights whoever analyze this topic…..

By June Vernon

March 24, 2011 8:40 PM | Link to this

I knew of this story. It intrigued me because Durie went to the same little private school I did.((Lake Forest, Il) She was very pretty and full of herself and a couple of years older than I am.

By acia

April 17, 2011 5:08 PM | Link to this

Love is the beauty of the soul.

By Reandankedorn

May 9, 2011 10:58 AM | Link to this

Всем доброго времени суток !
вот лето начинается, пожары на дачах и в лесу, хотелось бы поинтересоваться где можно пройти курсы ПТМ ?

Commenting is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. M-F

Post a comment

Remember me?

*HTML not allowed in comments. Your e-mail address is required.


Copyright © Mon May 09 23:46:27 EDT 2011 All rights reserved. By using, you accept the terms of our visitor agreement. Please read it.
Contact | Privacy Policy | About our ads