Birthday: October 14, 1920
Died At Age: 43
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Mary Eno Pinchot Meyer
Born in: New York City, New York
Famous as: Painter & Journalist
Artists & Painters
Spouse/Ex-: Cord Meyer (m. 1945–1958)
father: Amos Pinchot
mother: Ruth Pickering Pinchot
children: Michael Pinchot Meyer, Quentin Meyer
Died on: October 12, 1964
place of death: Georgetown, District of Columbia
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: Brearley School, Vassar College
Who was Mary Pinchot Meyer?
Mary Pinchot Meyer was an American journalist and painter who became famous for her alleged affair with the former US president John F Kennedy. As a journalist, Mary wrote for ‘Mademoiselle,’ the ‘United Press,’ and ‘The Atlantic Monthly.’ She began painting after she decided to become a homemaker. Her art was selected to be part of the ‘Pan American Union Art Exhibit’ at the ‘Museum of Modern Art’ in Buenos Aires. She got married to Cord Meyer, an official of the ‘Central Intelligence Agency’ (CIA), in 1945. It was after her divorce that rumors of her affair with Kennedy started surfacing. In June 2016, a love letter said to have been written by Kennedy to Meyer was auctioned for $89,000. Meyer was shot dead by a hitman in 1964, while she was on her daily walk. Her murder remains an unsolved mystery to date. A lot of speculations were made on her death. Many people still believe that the ‘CIA’ was involved in her murder, since she was always critical about the agency. Ray Crump, Jr., the accused, was acquitted in July 1965.
Childhood & Early Life
Mary Eno Pinchot Meyer was born into a wealthy family in New York City, on October 14, 1920. Her father, Amos Pinchot, was a lawyer and a member of the ‘Progressive Party.’
Her father also funded the socialist magazine ‘The Masses.’ Her mother, Ruth Pinchot, was a journalist and wrote for magazines such as ‘The New Republic’ and ‘The Nation.’
Mary and her sister, Antoinette, were raised in Milford, Pennsylvania. She was the niece of Gifford Pinchot, two-time governor of Pennsylvania.
She attended ‘Brearley School’ and then went to ‘Vassar College’ to study journalism. She graduated in 1942 and started writing for the ‘United Press’ and ‘Mademoiselle.’
She was also a member of the ‘American Labor Party.’
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Career & Life
Mary attended the ‘UN Conference on International Organization’ in San Francisco with Cord Meyer. Mary and Cord got married on April 19, 1944.
She was working as the editor for ‘The Atlantic Monthly’ when she got married. She decided to quit work after the birth of her children. It was around this time that she took her art seriously and began attending the ‘Art Students League of New York’ to study painting.
Cord Meyer was a ‘Marine Corps’ lieutenant who was elected as the president of the ‘United World Federalists’ (UWF) in May 1947. Mary wrote for the ‘UWF’ journal.
Cord joined the ‘CIA’ in 1951. However, whether he had secretly worked for them earlier is not known.
After his inclusion in the ‘CIA,’ the family moved to Washington DC. Mary had no problem in being critical about the ‘CIA,’ although her husband worked for the organization.
In 1954, Cord lost interest in his job with the ‘CIA’ and began looking for a job with publishers in New York. However, he failed to bag a job. Cord was accused of being a Communist, leading the ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation’ to delve into the political past of Mary, which might have been the reason for Cord’s sudden loss of interest in the ‘CIA.’
In 1954, the Meyers became neighbors of the Kennedys. This was the beginning of a friendship between Jackie Kennedy and Mary.
Around this time, Cord stayed away from home, mostly in Europe, to manage his job with the ‘CIA.’ Unfortunately, one of their sons, Michael, died in an accident. Mary filed for divorce in 1958, after the tragedy hit them hard. Soon after, she began getting close to John Kennedy.
Affair with Kennedy
After her divorce, Mary moved to Georgetown and started a garage studio at her sister’s house. She became close friends with John Kennedy during this time.
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According to James Angleton, a high-ranking officer of the ‘CIA,’ Mary visited the ‘White House’ in October 1961 and became intimate with Kennedy. She was introduced to the president by her ‘CIA’ friends.
Although Kennedy had been involved with a lot of women in his life, Mary was special to him. She was not just a woman he had had an affair with. According to ‘Harvard University’ lecturer of psychology Timothy Leary, Kennedy often discussed political, economical, and social issues with her. Mary asked Timothy to give her lessons on how to conduct LSD sessions with powerful men, clearly implying her attraction toward Kennedy.
A month before he was assassinated, Kennedy wrote Mary a love letter that stayed with his secretary before being sold in an auction for $89,000 in 2016.
The letter was signed ‘J.’ The last sentence of the letter read: “After all of these years – you should give me a more loving answer than that. Why don’t you just say yes”
Murder & Assumptions
On October 12, 1964, Mary went for her usual walk along the ‘Chesapeake and Ohio Canal’ towpath in Georgetown. According to a mechanic who heard Mary scream for help, she was shot twice by an African–American man.
The mechanic had reached the murder scene before anybody else and saw Mary lying on the towpath. He described the hitman as “a black man in a light jacket, dark slacks, and a dark cap.”
Ray Crump, the man accused of her murder, was found about a quarter of a mile away from the murder area. During the trial, the judge ordered that no argument should be built on Mary’s personal life.
Crump’s lawyer, Dovey Johnson Roundtree, stated that she was unable to gather any information about the victim. She later stated that the only information she could derive was that Mary was found dead on the towpath.
During the trial, Roundtree also stated that Crump’s features were quite different from those described by the witnesses. The man described by the witnesses was at least 50 pounds heavier and five inches taller than Crump.
In her autobiography, ‘Justice Older than the Law,’ Roundtree revealed that she had a witness who could have proved Crump’s innocence, but before the trial, she disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Reports claimed that another African–American man was seen walking around the crime scene after Crump’s arrest. Interestingly, Mary was shot three weeks after she criticized the ‘CIA’s ‘Warren Commission Report.’
It was weird that the ‘CIA’ had tapped her phone around the same time and that after her death, top ‘CIA’ official James Angleton had put in a lot of effort to retrieve Mary’s personal diary. These incidents pointed at a possible ‘CIA’ involvement in her murder.
Crump was acquitted of all charges on July 29, 1965. Although the murder is considered to be one of the deadliest of all time, it remains unresolved to this day.
Personal Life & Legacy
Mary reportedly dated William Attwood in 1935. After her divorce, she got close to painter Kenneth Noland for a brief time.
She had three children with Cord: Quentin, Michael, and Mark. Michael died at the age of 9, after getting hit by a car.
Gretchen Mol portrayed Meyer in the film ‘An American Affair’ (2009). The miniseries ‘The Kennedys’ (2011) featured actor Nahanni Johnstone as Meyer.
Her story was featured in the ‘Investigation Discovery’ series ‘Hardcover Mysteries.’ Her story was also covered by the podcasts ‘True Crime Garage’ and ‘Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories.’