John McCaslin

It so happened that this columnist was staying at the Cal Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe this past weekend when Marilyn Monroe's confessions to her psychiatrist - taped shortly before she died 43 years ago at age 36 - were made public, raising questions about whether she died of a drug overdose or perhaps something more sinister.

Rather than room service, I dialed hotel security.

Frank Encinas, as he does every day, was keeping a watchful eye over the craps tables and slot machines (the Nevada-California state line slices right through the lodge's rock fireplace, thus the casino is found in the Nevada half).

"Is there a chance you might take me into the tunnels?" I asked him.

During the late 1950s, with the blessing of notorious crime boss Sam Giancana, Frank Sinatra became the "captain" and owner of the Cal Neva Lodge. Soon, the lakeside resort was a favorite playground for Hollywood's brightest stars and, some contend, a pair of famous brothers from Washington, D.C.

"Most people say that Frank Sinatra owned the Cal Neva, and Sam Giancana was his silent partner," Encinas tells me. "But those in the know say Sam Giancana was the actual owner, and Frank Sinatra was his silent partner."

What's easier to believe is that Sinatra, Giancana and President Kennedy all shared the same mistress, Judith Campbell. The Hollywood socialite acknowledged the high-level trysts when subpoenaed to testify in 1975 before the so-called "Church Committee" (named after then-Idaho Sen. Frank Church and his Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities).

Campbell, who later became Campbell Exner, told congressional investigators that Kennedy additionally used her as a go-between with Giancana, supposedly when the president was weighing a possible assassination of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The FBI, it was later revealed, had recorded phone calls from Giancana's home to Kennedy (it also was reported that Giancana, despite being a suspect in numerous killings, participated in 1960 talks with CIA Director Allen W. Dulles about ways to forever silence Castro).

Meanwhile, as all this was supposedly happening, Kennedy was rumored also to be having an affair with Marilyn. And if that's not scandalous enough, notes from the newly revealed tapes have Marilyn trying to put the skids on another secret romance - this one with Robert F. Kennedy, the attorney general.

"As you see, there is no room in my life for him," she told her psychiatrist. "I guess I don't have the courage to face up to it and hurt him. I want someone else to tell him it's over."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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