Exner became a major news figure in 1975, after the Republicans on the U. S. Senate Intelligence Committee, seeking to dig up dirt on the former Democratic President, John F. Kennedy, compelled her to testify in public about her relationship with the president, which had been privately known among insiders for years.
As a result, Exner has been treated unfairly by history for doing something which millions of women have done or wanted to do: Have an affair with a rich and powerful man.
A Senate committee investigating C.I.A.-Mafia connections summoned her to testify and press reports revealed her connections to Kennedy and to Sam Giancana, a Chicago organized-crime figure.
Those who criticize Exner, and that includes almost everybody, overlook the fact that she was pursued for years by the press and the FBI and that she kept her silence for as long as was humanly possible. She wrote her book only after she had been compelled to give her testimony and her relationship with the president had become widely known.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had Exner tailed, not for any valid law enforcement purpose, but rather to be able to blackmail JFK, just as Hoover had blackmailed every previous President, going back to Warren G. Harding, the president who had first appointed Hoover.
Still, there were detractors. Dave Powers, a Kennedy aide who Mrs. Exner said had assisted in setting up her encounters with the President, said in 1991, "The only Campbell I know is chunky vegetable soup."
However, her relationship with Kennedy was too well known by too many people to be denied. It was well known that Sinatra introduced Exner to JFK in 1960. This is described by Mafia Turncoat Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno in his book, "The Last Mafioso".
At a 1960 Las Vegas performance of Sinatra and other members of the famous "Rat Pack", Sinatra introduced her to Kennedy, who was in town on a presidential campaign swing.
Throughout the Lewinsky scandal, the Exner name has often been invoked. However, there were big differences between them.
1. The public did not know about Exner until more than ten years after the president had died, whereas Lewinsky became known near the beginning of Clinton's second term of office.
2. Exner held out much longer than Lewinsky did and was an unnamed mystery woman long before her name was finally published in the press.
3. By every account, Judith Exner was a fabulously beautiful woman, the kind of woman that Frank Sinatra, with his legendary appetite for beautiful women, would be proud to show off to the president. Lewinsky was an average looking woman with a weight problem.
Judith Exner was born Judith Katherine Inmoor on January 11, 1934 in New York but grew up primarily in the Los Angeles.
At 18, she married actor William Campbell and moved with him in entertainment circles. After their 1958 divorce, she briefly dated singer Frank Sinatra.
Later, she married a professional golfer, Dan Exner, in the mid-1970's and moved to Orange County. They reportedly divorced several years ago.
Mrs. Exner is survived by a son, David Bohrer; two brothers, Allen and Fred Immoor; and a sister, Joan Collingwood.