Torbert Macdonald

Torbert Macdonald

Torbert Hart Macdonald was born in Everett, Middlesex County, Massachusetts on 6th June, 1917. He attended Medford High School, and Phillips Academy. He met John F. Kennedy while Harvard University and this became a life-time friendship.

Macdonald served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War as a PT boat commander in the Pacific (1942-44) and was awarded the Silver Star Combat Award.

After the war he worked as a lawyer in Boston. A member of the Democratic Party he was a member of the National Labor Relations Board for New England area (1948-1952). He was also delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1960, 1964 and 1968. He also represented Massachusetts, 1955-76 (8th District 1955-63, 7th District 1963-76).

Torbert Hart Macdonald died in Bethesda on 21st May, 1976.

Primary Sources

(1) Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997)

The final player in the Diem saga in the fall of 1963 was Torbert Macdonald, Jack Kennedy's roommate from college and one of his closest friends. Macdonald, a member of Congress from Massachusetts, died in 1976; he is one of those mystery men who played a major role in Kennedy's life about whom very little can be learned. He was not mentioned in Arthur Schlesinger's memoir, and was mentioned only casually by Ted Sorensen. Macdonald's oral interview with the Kennedy Library was originally sealed; upon being opened in 1995 it turned out to be innocuous. His collected papers from his ten terms in Congress say nothing about his relationship with Jack Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy, in his oral history for the Kennedy Library, did not mention Macdonald.

What could be learned during reporting for this book was that Macdonald was one of Jack Kennedy's playpals - a regular at the afternoon White House pool parties and a partner in many of Kennedy's escapades, especially in Hollywood. He was trusted, a trust that he validated after Kennedy's assassination. Macdonald remained in the Congress until his death - he became an increasingly effective legislator - and he never talked. Joe Croken, a Boston politician who long worked as Macdonald's administrative assistant, told me in a 1997 interview for this book that there were many secrets between Macdonald and Jack Kennedy - "certain things they didn't talk to anybody about."

(2) Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy & Johnson (1968)

Just four days after he had arrived in Palm Beach for a rest, and eight days after the election, Mr. Kennedy was off to the LBJ Ranch. Possibly for moral support, he took with him his house guest and former Harvard roommate, Congressman Torbert Macdonald. When they returned back the next evening both were exhausted. "We'll fill you in tomorrow," Torb said, "but right now we need some sleep."