Presidents Who Cheat: It's Nothing New
When we focus on the Kennedy Administration and sex, people automatically think of Marilyn Monroe and other glamorous lovers of JFK. Fewer are familiar, however, with Lyndon B. Johnson's long time mistress, Madeleine Duncan Brown. Last year Madeleine published her steamy memoirs of her love affair with LBJ that began in Texas long before he became president, and resulted in an illegitimate son named Steven. Murder, intrigue, treason, and lots of hot sex, it's all here in this book, Texas in the Morning: The Love Story Of Madeleine Brown And President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Madeleine did one of her first radio interviews on The Zoh Show on July 31, 1997, arranged by her publisher, Baltimorean Harrison Edward Livingstone, a Zoh Show listener. Livingstone believes Madeleine deserves our gratitude for coming forward after withstanding extreme efforts to silence her, even to the extent of imprisoning her son, and possibly causing his death. Steven died in a Naval Hospital in 1990 under mysterious circumstances.

Among Madeleine's incredible memoirs there is the night before JFK's assassination when Madeleine remembers Lyndon at a party with Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, John J. McCloy and other rich and powerful men who she believes discussing plans to assassinate the president on November 22, 1963. Of course, Madeleine's detractors will say she's watched too many Hollywood conspiracy movies, but Madeleine Brown says she's telling the truth. If what she says is true, the United States government orchestrated a political coup like the ones we associate with rogue third world nations. According to Madeleine Brown, and in the opinion of many other people, we have not had a legitimate federal government since.


Madeleine describes an anxious and red-faced LBJ emerging from that party briefing. The words she remembers are: "After tomorrow those God-damned Kennedys will never embarrass me again. That's not a threat, that's a promise."


"I came from a devout Christian family and I had wonderful parents and grandparents on both sides. We lived in a small community in the Bible Belt of Texas," Madeleine Brown describes her background. After I graduated from high school I went to work for the Republic National Bank for $90 a month. It was great. From there I went into advertising.... I was 23 at the time, and women weren't quite as developed, you might say, as they are today. I lived a very sheltered life."


She recalls the first time she met Lyndon. One of the advertising firm's clients, radio station KTBC, one of Lyndon Johnson's properties,was giving a huge party, "and they invited me to come. That night I met Lyndon and he invited me to come to another party in Austin. They used to have real big parties. I'm talking about Alice in Wonderland type parties. When I went to Austin and we were dancing at the Driskill Hotel he put a key in my hand and everything followed suit."

She didn't know who he was other than one of the rich and powerful and she was "excited" at the prospect of a rendezvous. Madeleine was a young widow in her twenties at the time and remembers feeling an incredible chemistry with this intriguing man. "It was so powerful," she recalls. "Even today as I speak or think of him my body reacts to his name. It was an exciting experience for me. We had a strong sex life together."

She acknowledges that her book is "a little bit on the X-rated side."

Zoh suggested perhaps they had been lovers in a former lifetime, and Madeleine considered, "It was either that or it was just something that happens between a male and a female. I half-way believe in reincarnation. Again, our life was so beautiful together until... but of course having Steve made it worth it all."


"A lot of people do not realize it, but [at that time] the oil people in Texas controlled Washington," continues Madeleine, remembering the days when she first met Lyndon. "Even starting way back in 1920 President Taft would come to Texas and this Clint Murchison, one of the big oil people, had married a girl from Tyler, Texas, and even J. Edgar Hoover came during those years. And so Clint established himself in Washington and it began to grow. And even President Roosevelt and Harry Truman all through -- you can read the book, ‘who's who of the elite’, and see how these presidents tied together. Texas had actually controlled Washington. They were very strong in our government. In 1960 when lay people thought they really had selected the candidates to run for the Presidency, they did not. Joe Kennedy, the father, had the mafia behind him and, of course, H. L. Hunt, and oil people were supporting Kennedy. And these two men met in Los Angeles, California and they decided who would run on the ticket. H. L. Hunt finally said, "We'll concede if Lyndon goes on as Vice-President." So, the two men chose the candidates for the 1960 election. Lay people don't really understand that unless they understand the policies of America."


Madeleine remembers seeing J.Edgar Hoover while together with Lyndon on their second date together in Austin. She asked Lyndon about it, and it was the first time he warned her with the soon to be oft-repeated phrase. "He told me little girls shouldn't have big eyes and big ears and they didn't see, hear, or repeat anything. When I did ask Lyndon that's when he told me I should never see, hear, or repeat anything." Later in the book, Madeleine alleges that during their subsequent 21 year love affair, after their son, Steven, was born, J. Edgar Hoover began blackmailing Lyndon over their relationship.

John Connally once said about LBJ: "There is no adjective to describe Lyndon. He was cruel and kind, generous and greedy, sensitive and insensitive, crafty and naïve, ruthless and thoughtful, simple in many ways, yet extremely complex, caring and totally uncaring; he could overwhelm people with kindness and turn around and be cruel and petty towards those same people." Madeleine says that when she first learned she was pregnant, he asked her to have an abortion. But when she refused because of her religious beliefs, he said, "It takes two to tango and I will take care of my responsibilities." And that's what he did, continued Madeleine. "He had Jerome Ragsdale come out to the house, and of course it crushed my mother and father. In those years a woman just simply... didn't have a child out of wedlock. If they did, families would send them away and sometimes they never came back to our area. So I crushed my parents, and even today I grieve sometimes because they were such wonderful, wonderful people. But Jerome Ragsdale and my father worked out all of the financial things and that's the way it continued until 1975."

Madeleine said, "If it ever leaked out, Ragsdale would take the fall for it... Of course Lyndon had total control in Texas in the press, the media." They had it all planned for Jerome Ragsdale to come forward and say he was the father, should any scandal erupt.


Madeleine already had a son from her earlier marriage when she gave birth to Lyndon's son Steven. She says the two boys were very close and remained so throughout their lives until the knowledge of paternity was revealed. "Steven was so close to me, and he was the best looking thing, great big ole' guy, heart as big as an ocean," said his mother. He died under mysterious circumstances in 1990 and since then she has made peace with her other son, Jimmy.


"Of course, that was just J. Edgar Hoover, he did this to people," said Madeleine. "He blackmailed them." Lyndon suddenly told her that she would have to get married. "I said, 'Get married?' Another one of the White House Secretaries [had been] married off to a well known person, [but] I said 'I don't KNOW anyone to get married [to].' " But Lyndon had already arranged everything. "He said, 'You've been shooting skeet out at the Dallas Gun Club and I believe the fellow's name is Charles West', and I said, 'But I don't KNOW him', and he said, 'Well, all arrangements have been made.' ...It was called a paper marriage, in order to get some of the heat off in Washington.... it did take some heat off of Lyndon."

Madeleine was so totally devoted to Lyndon that she was willing to stand by him not only through this paper marriage, but even to the suppression of knowledge about murders of important officials. Her autobiography is like a romantic political intrigue novel. She recalls the death of U.S. Agriculture official Henry Marshall who was found dead on his farm.

Madeleine says it was well known Kennedy was going to drop Lyndon from the ticket because of Lyndon's involvement with the Bobby Baker scandal in Washington, and in Texas the agriculture people had been accused of subsidizing cotton contracts. There were a lot of scandals going on, insider trading on lucrative contracts in the cotton market for individuals in the government. Henry Marshall looked into it and he was going to go public. "Someone leaked information from the agricultural department... Henry Marshall with all of his records and things, he had to be silenced. There was a trigger man here in Texas, Malcolm E. Wallace... Anyway Henry Marshall, they first said he committed suicide. Can you believe five shots in the stomach with a .22 and [they said he] killed himself?"

Madeleine was very proud of the fact that 23 years later, one of her son's law classmates helped overturn the suicide verdict of Henry Marshall's death and turned its classification into homicide.


"Dell Turner, our mate... came up missing and I've never found her since," says Madeleine of the woman who was basically the nanny to her two children and had been with Steven since he was born. She says LBJ spotted Dell observing the two of them together at a hotel in San Antonio and it upset him. "He covered his tracks very well," says Madeleine. "He didn't want anyone to know about our relationship, so after Dell saw him he told me that I would have to tell her goodbye. I said 'I can't do that, she's been with us ten years!' And he said, 'I said you'll have to tell her goodbye.' After we were returned to Dallas she called me at work and told me that she had some very important business, and I said, 'That's fine Dell, go take care of it, just take the boys to my mother's, [who] we lived close to.' I said, 'Take all the time you want.' She lived in with us and that was very convenient... Dell never did return. We had the "color law" in Texas in those years. If you did report a [missing] black, they could care less. It's very sad and tragic, but it did happen... Through the years I have tried to find her or find out what happened." She heard 'Mack Wallace' took care of her implying LBJ's orders caused the murder of the woman who had been the nanny of the President's son.

She says she wrote the book because she felt that after Lyndon was out of office that he should have come forth and recognize Steven. "At parties, he'd call him 'son', but he never did come out and say 'this is my son' or anything like that." Madeleine says he was hurt by it, but after Steven got sick with cancer, she decided to go public with the affair in this book. She hoped to have Steven take his place along with the Johnson girls as Lyndon's only son.


In her book, Madeleine describes Jack Ruby holding a map of the Kennedy Dallas route making comments about where they were going to blow his head off. She says that together with executives from the ad agency where she worked they would go to the Carousel Club and play cards. "Remember Dallas was very small," she says, "it wasn't a metropolitan city. And in the afternoon the club wasn't open, but we'd go over, some of the executives from the ad agency, we'd sit there and play cards, but we could always find out what was going on, it was kind of a place to learn all. We were playing cards there one afternoon, and it was a couple weeks, I think, prior to the assassination, and Jack Ruby came over to us. He always called us "classy guys". And he said, 'Guess what I have?' And I glanced up and I said, 'What is it?' And he said, 'When that son of a bitch comes to Texas,' he said, 'It's the map where he's going.' It kind of stunned me and I said, 'All I know, Jack, is you run with the great white fathers of Dallas, and you know what's going on.' But it stunned me that knowing who he was that he would have this kind of confidential information. Now, the map was later published in the newspaper, but Jack had it before it ever hit the newspaper. Then he commented, he said, 'Doesn't he know that he should stay out of Dallas?' Kennedy's name was mud in Dallas and he said, 'Some of these jocks will blow his head off.' I said, 'We hope not.' We kind of passed it over, but once the assassination happened, and [what I heard] at the party the night before, things went falling in place."

She intimates that Ruby knew the Dallas police department, and that Lee Harvey Oswald and Ruby were together at the Carousel Club. She talks about rumors of high level authorities changing the motorcade route, the lack of security and press in Dealey Plaza at the crucial moment, witnesses who claim the motorcade slowed or virtually stopped during the shooting and other disturbing allegations coming from one who was so close to the events as they happened.


"When I met Lyndon at the Driskill Hotel on New Years Eve, 'course he was President then, I asked him. I said, 'People in Dallas think you had more to gain than anyone from the assassination of John Kennedy, and I've got to know. I'm very disturbed about it.' He had one of his "Johnson fits" and said again, 'You don't see, hear, or repeat anything.' But he also said, 'It was the oil people that I knew and intelligence that had caused the assassination.' I have never disbelieved it because I knew the things that were going on in Dallas, Texas."

"...Malcolm Wallace was there in Dallas, Texas. I saw Mack Wallace out at the Dallas Gun Club practicing two or three days prior to the assassination... I have always felt that since the witnesses did hear the shots coming from the grassy knoll..."

Madeleine also remembered another incident before the assassination that gave her reason to think twice. She says that she and H. L. Hunt, one of the richest men in America used to park in the same parking lot on Jackson Street, and one day when they were walking up the same street they walked together almost every day, he said to her: "Come here, honey, I want to show you something." She looked at what he was holding and saw one of the caricature drawings of President Kennedy as a mug shot, saying "Wanted For Treason". Madeleine says she said to H.L. Hunt: "Oh my God, H.L., you can't do the President that way!" She continues, "I was so naive at the time, and he said, 'Hell I can't! I'm the richest man in the world, and I can do what I want to.' And he did. After the assassination... H.L. Hunt went to Washington and stayed three weeks with Lyndon over the oil depletion. H.L. Hunt came back to Dallas and said 'We've won the war.' The oil depletion was never mentioned again. And of course that was one of the things he hated John Kennedy over. But H.L. Hunt bragged almost all the time. He said, 'Well, we got him out of office.' That was it."


A brush with death brought the truth out of Madeleine after a heart attack. "I told him, I wanted to go to the other side without any hurt in my heart," she says. "And so I told him where the papers were that were showing Lyndon was his father. Steven was wounded by it and he was very bitter. He felt like I had been very deceitful to him... He had a raging fit just like Lyndon did and he filed a law suit for his part of the money." Unfortunately the notoriety Steven brought upon himself by claiming his rights to the inheritance of the Johnson estate was used against him by the U.S. Navy. "Unfortunately he had served time in the Navy after graduating from A&M," says Madeleine. She begged him not to file the law suit, "I said you don't want to do that, we're okay, we're going to be okay for life." But he did it anyway. "After him being 10 years out of the Navy, they decided that -- or the Navy or someone did -- that he was a deserter from the U.S. Navy, and it brought all kinds of problems." Steven was taken from Dallas to Corpus and then to San Antonio where Lyndon's records were. And suddenly he was sick and in the hospital. They did some tests on him, and the next thing Madeleine knows is he's missing from the Brooks General Hospital. "He was gone for about two months," she says. "I exercised everything I could to locate him, hiring a detective in Washington. We tried to get his law suit postponed, but they wouldn't do anything in Dallas for him. When the case came up from court they marked on the case "Failed to Appear in Court". And then after this happened we located Steven in Bethesda, Maryland. By the time we got him back home, he was so sick he ultimately passed away."

It shows how much power these people have, she says, and how they can sculpt documentation to prove whatever they want to. "It's very heart breaking."

Many people wonder why Madeleine has not been "bumped off". "Why have I survived?" she wonders? "I actually am better off now than I've ever been." She has some real reservations about a terrible automobile accident she had in 1967, but continues to live a very cautious, secluded, quiet life.

Her book is dedicated to Steven Mark Brown, December 27, 1950 to September 28, 1990 and to his father Lyndon Baines Johnson August 17, 1908 to January 22, 1973.

Zoh noted the unifying factor of fidelity and infidelity so prominent in Madeleine's life. Faith and contract and partnerships between mates and lovers, or ourselves and our federal government, often you can find a pattern of extreme infidelities alongside fierce loyalties in all relationships. Madeleine claims Lyndon's loyalty to her was a special kind of fidelity. The resulting infidelity this implies of his relationship to his wife, Lady Bird, can be compared to his infidelity to the community as has been demonstrated in his highly criticized methods of handling the Vietnam War.


If Lyndon were here today, Madeleine supposes he would demand a night full of sex and in the morning he would throw open the windows and yell "Goddamn, I love Texas in the morning!" as he did so many times before. "I'd tell him, since he didn't take a step forward -- I did. And he'd say, 'You don't see, hear or repeat anything.' I'd say, I hear YOU Lyndon."

Texas in the Morning, is available for $25 from The Conservatory Press, P.O. Box 7149, Baltimore, MD 21218. In Baltimore it can be found at Gordon Books at the Rotunda.