Death of Mary Pinchot Meyer

ISGP section: Suspicious deaths index | Main article: JFK assassination

Mary Pinchot Meyer was a daughter of Amos and Ruth Pinchot. She was the wife of CIA official Cord Meyer. Both had very pacifist views along the lines of the United World Federalists, of which Cord Meyer became president. CIA director Allen Dulles recruited Cord Meyer in 1951. The couple moved to the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. where they became close to the CIA leadership, the Washington Post people, and soon, the Kennedys. Mary's sister, Antoinette, married Benjamin Bradlee, executive editor of the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991 (and still vice president at large). Cicely d'Autremont, Mary's friend and classmate from Vassar, married the far less pacifist CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton.

In 1958 the couple divorced. Family friend James Angleton, who often took Cord and Mary Meyer's sons out fishing, began to tap her phone. Certainly by October 1961 Mary began a long-term affair with President John F. Kennedy. There are suspicions that she not only herself took LSD (then legal), but was also providing it to Kennedy, in an attempt to make him more pacifist. After Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, she feared for her own life, according to the biography of a friend, Timothy Leary, who from 1960 to May 1963 ran Harvard University's psychedelic research and from 1963-1967 lived at the Mellon-sponsored Millbrook estate where he arose as the leading LSD guru in the nation.

1983, Timothy Leary, 'Flashbacks: An Autobiography', pp. 130, 154, 174:

"Oh, you reckless Irishman. You got yourself in trouble again [with your 1962 article in the Journal of Atomic Scientists]. It's magnificent, these headlong cavalry charges of yours. Mais ce n'est pas la guerre." ... Publicity [is what you did wrong]. I told you they'd let you do anything you want as long as you kept it quiet. ...

"You poor innocent thing. You have no idea what you've gotten into. ... It's time you learned more. The guys who run things - I mean the guys who really run things in Washington - are very interested in psychology, and drugs in particular. These people play hardball, Timothy. They want to use drugs for warfare, for espionage, for brainwashing, for control. ... Until very recently control of American consciousness was a simple matter for the guys in charge. The schools instilled docility. The radio and TV networks poured out conformity. ...

"You may not know that dissident organizations in academia are also controlled. The CIA creates the radical journals and student organizations and runs them with deep-cover agents. ... [Your] IFIF plan [to set up psychedelic training centers around the country] was ingenious [but] they would have infiltrated every chapter [and] not [have] let CBS film you drugging people on a lovely Mexican beach. You could destroy both capitalism and socialism in one month with that sort of thing."

1983, Timothy Leary, 'Flashbacks: An Autobiography', p. 194:

"The next call from Mary [Pinchot Meyer] came the day after the assassination of Jack Kennedy. I had really been expecting it. I could hardly understand her. She was either drugged or stunned with grief. "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast. He was learning too much." "Who? You mean Kennedy?" Long pause. Hysterical crying. I spoke reassuringly. She kept sobbing. "They'll cover everything up. I gotta come see you. I'm scared. I'm afraid. Be careful." The line went dead. Her words kept repeating in my mind. "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast." I've never forgot those words. In the months that followed I kept waiting for Mary to call back. I tried the Washington phone book for her number but she wasn't listed: not in Virginia or Maryland either."

Mary was shot herself on October 12, 1964, during an evening jog. No gun was found and the killer also has never been caught. No one in the media at the time mentioned Cord Meyer's CIA career or Mary's relationship with Kennedy. The court also did not allow any background information on Mary to become public.

Two sources follow that may give hints to those knowing more about her death (primarily James Angleton, who died in 1987):

1995, Ben Bradlee, 'A Good Life', p. 267:

"Two telephone calls that night from overseas added new dimensions to Mary's death. The first came from President Kennedy's press secretary, Pierre Salinger, in Paris. He expressed his particular sorrow and condolences, and it was only after that conversation was over that we realized that we hadn't known that Pierre had been a friend of Mary's. The second, from Anne Truitt, an artist/sculptor living in Tokyo, was completely understandable. She had been perhaps Mary's closest friend, and after she and Tony had grieved together, she told us that Mary had asked her to take possession of a private diary 'if anything ever happened to me.' Anne asked if we had found any such diary, and we told her we hadn't looked for anything, much less a diary. We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary.

"Now, James Jesus Angleton was a lot of things, including an extremely controversial, high-ranking CIA official specializing in counterintelligence, but he was also a friend of ours, and the husband of Mary Meyer's close friend, Cicely Angleton. We asked him how he'd gotten into the house, and he shuffled his feet. (Later, we learned that one of Jim's nicknames inside the agency was "the Locksmith," and that he was known as a man who could pick his way into any house in town.) We felt his presence was odd, to say the least, but took him at his word, and with him we searched Mary's house thoroughly. Without success. We found no diary.

"Later that day, we realized that we hadn't looked for the diary in Mary's studio, which was directly across a dead-end driveway from the garden behind our house. We had no key, but I got a few tools to remove the simple padlock, and we walked toward the studio, only to run into Jim Angleton again, this time actually in the process of picking the padlock. He would have been red-faced, if his face could have gotten red, and he left almost without a word. ... We missed the diary the first time, but Tony found it an hour later."

"Much has been written about this diary -- most of it wrong -- since its existence was first reported. Tony took it to our house, and we read it later that night. ... On a few pages, maybe ten in all, in the same handwriting but different pen, phrases described a love affair, and after reading only a few phrases it was clear that the lover had been the President of the United States, though his name was never mentioned.

"... Tony, especially, felt betrayed, both by Kennedy and by Mary. She knew Jack liked her. ... She liked Kennedy back, but had never done anything to encourage more than friendship. ... Of course, I had heard reports of girlfriends. Everyone had. ... And so I was truly appalled by the realization of the extent of the deceit involved. I remembered, for instance, Kennedy greeting Tony often by asking, "How's your sister?", presumably including those occasions when he had just left her arms."


1998, Nina Burleigh (a mainstream, prestigious journalist), 'A Very Private Woman: The Life and Unsolved Murder of Presidential Mistress', pp. 18, 182, 300:

"On the day of Mary's funeral Angleton already had in his possession the diary and letters that told the story of Mary Meyer's personal life. They had been handed to him by journalist Ben Bradlee in an act motiated equally by family embarassment and patriotic duty. Later Angleton would boast that had also bugged Mary Meyer's telephone and bedroom. Angleton served as an usher at Mary's funeral, leading the mourners to their seats in the chapel, but he felt Bradlee had devised the funeral more to impress social Washington than to honor the dead woman. ... [Picture:] James Jesus Angleton: The CIA's counterintelligence chief took charge of Mary's diary and personal papers after her death, destroying some of them. He later boasted that he had wiretapped her phone and bugged her bedroom. [Picture:] The Georgetown Towpath where Mary was killed in October 1964: The news photographer at the canal found it odd that there were so many men in suits at the crime scene and that journalists were kept at such a distance. ... [Angleton] told one writer that Mary Meyer wrote in her diary that she and JFK had used a small amount of LSD together, after which they "made love." But he never mentioned that again, and Cicily Angleton--who claims never to have seen the diary herself—denies that her husband ever said such a thing. During a two-hour interview with another journalist that included seven martinis he implied that Mary was a woman who influenced policy with her pacifist beliefs. He also said that a number of men and women had read the diary, not just him and the Bradlees."


Saturday, January 27, 1996, 11:02-11:25 AM (CST), secretly taped telephone conversation between Robert Crowley, a retired assistant deputy director of operations of the CIA (and friend of Angleton, who died in 1987), and author Gregory Douglas:

..GD: Women are not easy to deal with. They are either at your feet or your throat…

RTC: Oh, the truth of it all! Emily is a lovely person but I tell her nothing. And let me ask you that when you talk with her, for God’s sake, don’t talk shop with her. It would just stir her up. Most Company wives are a pack of nuts. Did I mention Cord’s wife?

GD: I don’t think so. I…no, I don’t remember. Cord Meyer?

RTC: Right, the Great Cyclops. Or the One-Eyed Reilly.

GD: In the center of his forehead?

RTC: Lost it in the Pacific. Glass.

GD: The wife?

RTC: What?

GD: You mentioned his wife…

RTC: Ah yes. He married the daughter of Pinchot just after the war…

GD: Gifford?

RTC: Correct. The governor. Very attractive woman but her sister was even better. She married Bradlee who is one of the Company's [CIA's] men. He's on the [Washington] 'Post' now. Cord’s wife was what they call a free spirit…liked modern art, runs around naked in people’s gardens and so on. Pretty but strange and unstable. She and Cord got along for a time but time changes everything….they do say that, don’t they?…They broke up and  Cord was so angry at being dumped, he hated her from then on. She took up with Kennedy. Did you know that?

GD: No.

RTC: Oh yes indeed. Kennedy had huge orgies out at 1600 with nude women in the pools and all that. Even had a professional photographer come in and take pictures of him in action. Old Jack loved threesomes, the occasional dyke and God knows what else. It was Joe’s money that shut people up, including his nasty wife…

GD: I thought she was a saint. Old family…

RTC: Bullshit! Family is Irish, bog trotters, like Kennedy. Not French at all. A greedy, lying and completely nutty woman. Never liked her. One generation here and they give up washing clothes and put up the lace curtains in the family parlor. What was I saying?

GD: About Cord’s wife…

RTC: Oh yes. After Mary…that was her name…Mary. You haven’t heard about her?

GD: No.

RTC: After Kennedy bought the farm [Wexford, finished in the weeks fore his death, he, Jackie and their children were to live], ex-Mrs. Meyer was annoyed. She became the steady girlfriend and he was very serious about her. Jackie was brittle, uptight and very greedy. Poor people usually are. Mary had money and far more class and she knew how to get along with Jack. Trouble was, she got along too well. She didn’t approve of the mass orgies and introduced him to pot and other things [reportedly LSD]. Not a good idea. Increased chances for blackmail or some erratic public behavior. But after Dallas, she began to brood and then started to talk. Of course she had no proof but when people like that start to run their mouths, there can be real trouble.

GD: What was the outcome?

RTC: We terminated her, of course.

GD: That I didn’t know. How?

RTC: Had one of our cleaning men nail her down by the towpath while she was out for her daily jog.

GD: Wasn’t that a bit drastic?

RTC: Why? If you knew the damage she could cause us…

GD: Were you the man?

RTC: No, Jim Angleton [CIA counterintelligence chief and later American Security Council director, a superior and friend of Crowley] was. And [Benjamin] Bradley, her brother-in-law was in the know [if he was, he wasn't admitting it in his 1995 book]. After she assumed room temperature, he and Jim went over to Mary’s art studio to see if she had any compromising papers and ran off with her diary [Bradlee went with his wife independently of Angleton; they both caught Angleton breaking in, twice]. I have a copy of it…

GD: Could I see it?

RTC: Now, Gregory, don’t ask too many questions. Maybe later.

GD: Did anyone get nailed?

RTC: Some spaced out nigger was down there but he had nothing to do with it. Our people came down on that place in busloads to help out the locals but they were searching for the gun. Our man was supposed to have tossed in into the water but it never made it in and one of our boys found it in some bushes, half in and half out of the water. Beat the locals to it by about ten seconds. Very close. See, it was one of our hit weapons that never had serial numbers. Not made that way.

GD: Ruger made a silenced .22 during the war for the OSS. No numbers, parkerized finish.

RTC: Same thing.

GD: Couldn’t they have talked sense into her?

RTC: What did Shakespeare say about angry women?

GD: 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.'

RTC: Exactly.

GD: She had children?

RTC: Some. One was killed by a drunk driver. Caused all kinds of friction in the family as I remember.

GD: Mayer. He was tied up with Alan Cranston?

RTC: Yes. The one-world crap.


GD: You didn’t like [Cord Meyer].

RTC: Nasty, opinionated, loud and a general asshole.

GD: What did he think about doing his wife?

RTC: Ex-wife. Let’s be accurate now. Ex-wife. When Jim talked to Cord about this, Cord didn’t let him finish his fishing expedition. He was in complete agreement about shutting her up. Gregory, you can’t reason with people like her. She hated Cord, loved Kennedy and saw things in the Dallas business that were obvious to insiders or former insiders but she made the mistake of running her mouth. One of the wives had a talk with her about being quiet but Mary was on a tear and that was that.

GD: Yes, I think there’s something there.

RTC: But not while I’m breathing, Gregory. Not until later. And it wasn’t my decision. I was there but Jim and the others made the final decision. You know how it goes