Personal bodyguard calls publication of priest’s letters ‘a little intrusive’

Former agent had jumped on to presidential limousine after fatal shot hit JFK in Dallas

Jackie Kennedy's personal bodyguard during her time at the White House has described the publication of extracts from her private letters to a confidant, Dublin priest Fr Joseph Leonard, as "a little intrusive."

Clint Hill (82), who is best known for jumping on to the presidential limousine after the fatal shot hit John F Kennedy during his 1963 assassination in Dallas, told NBC News that he did not know Fr Leonard, as most of her correspondence with the priest predated his arrival at the White House in 1960.

“It is a little intrusive in my opinion to have this personal letter, these personal letters revealed, but somebody has taken the position that that is what they should do so there is not much you can do about it,” said the retired Secret Service agent, who continued to protect Mrs Kennedy until 1964.

Mr Hill, who was assigned to protect Mrs Kennedy after her husband was elected president in 1960, said that writing to Fr Leonard was the best way to vent her pain after the assassination. “She was so private,” he said. “That was one of the things that she required was privacy and tried to maintain that for as much as possible during the time I was with her. So she would in turn write letters like that to various people, very limited but a few.”


The one-time agent, who has co-authored and contributed to books on the Kennedy assassination, acknowledged that Mrs Kennedy and the Dublin priest were close. “She obviously trusted this individual a great deal because, in reading what I have seen so far, she really opened up, which was a little bit unusual from my experience,” he said.

He noted that Mrs Kennedy also disclosed personal details in letters she wrote to President Lyndon B Johnson and his wife Lady Bird after the assassination.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent