How a foreign policy goliath dated a string of beauties

How a foreign policy goliath dated a string of beauties including Bond girl Jill St John, Liv Ullman Shirley MacLaine and Diane Sawyer and hit it off with Zsa Zsa Gabor

  • Despite his far from Hollywood leading man looks, Henry Kissinger was known for his dalliances with glamorous women in addition to his preventing nuclear war

‘Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.’ That was diplomatic powerhouse Henry Kissinger’s explanation as to how he managed to date some of the most beautiful women in the world.  

Despite Kissinger, who died Wednesday at the age of 100, acquired a reputation as a ladies’ man in the staid Nixon administration. 

His biographer, Walter Isaacson, wrote that Hollywood executives were eager to set him up with starlets, whom Kissinger squired to premieres and showy restaurants. 

His companions included Jill St. John, Shirley MacLaine, Marlo Thomas, Candice Bergen and Liv Ullmann. 

On top of that, he also hit it off with B-movie starlet Zsa Zsa Gabor, who disclosed their dalliance during a 1987 interview with David Letterman when she disclosed that the pair had been set up by Nixon himself. ‘He screwed up one kiss,’ she joked.

Kissinger and actress Jill St. John attend a party at the Bistro in Hollywood in 1970

Kissinger threw away his playboy lifestyle when he married Nancy Maginnes in 1974, there they are at a White House event in 2015

In a poll of Playboy Club Bunnies in 1972, the man dubbed ‘Super-K’ by Newsweek finished first as ‘the man I would most like to go out on a date with.’ 

Kissinger divorced his first wife, Ann Fleischer, in 1964, and then married Nancy Maginnes, an aide to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, in 1974. He had two children from his first marriage. 

Vanity Fair reported in 2007 that Gabor proudly displayed a photo showing her with Kissinger in her home. 

Gabor, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 99, accompanied Kissinger to a state dinner being held for then South Korean President Chung Hee Pak in San Francisco in 1969. 

When asked if they spoke about world affairs, Gabor told Time Magazine: ‘No. But we talked about other affairs.’ 

Their relationship was covered again in Gabor’s 1991 memoir One Lifetime Is Not Enough. The actress explained that Kissinger drover her home from dinner one night in Beverly Hills and accepted her invitation to come in for a drink. 

However, when he went to guess her, his pager went off and he was summoned back to be by Nixon’s side. 

Kissinger was so eager to get to Nixon’s home in San Clemente, California, that he dented his car on Gabor’s gates. The car belonged to the president, according to a Washington Post feature from 1992. 

Kissinger and Diane Sawyer together at an event in New York City in 1994, despite their romance ending years previously, they were known as confidantes 

Kissinger was also said to have romanced movie starlet Shirley MacLaine, pictured here together, during the 1970s 

A Post feature published shortly after his death detailed that Kissinger was known as the ‘swinging bachelor’ in the Nixon administration before marrying Maginnes in 1974. 

The couple never got a second date because, as the Post reported in 1992, upon accepting his invitation for a rendezvous in Boston, Kissinger was forced to cancel for diplomatic reasons.

‘I can’t fly down because we’re invading Cambodia tomorrow. It’s a big secret, you are the first person outside the White House who knows about it,’ he apparently told her. 

During his time in the Nixon administration, Kissinger was also linked to actress Jill St. John. According to The New York Times, they were often seen together in swanky restaurants in Manhattan where he would ‘run his fingers through her hair.’

St. John’s friend, Tom Mankiewcz, was quoted in the 2006 book Supermob, the story of Hollywood ‘fixer’ Sidney Korshak, as saying that St. John and Kissinger’s relationship was extremely close but also platonic. 

Kissinger embraced by his one-time partner Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann

While a friend is quoted in the book as saying St. John stopped having sex with Kissinger because of the carpet bombing in south east Asia. 

However, St. John once told Women’s Wear Daily: ‘There has never been a roman. It has been a great friendship and still is. It has not been and will never be a great romance.’ 

Another of Kissinger’s conquest was famed broadcaster and one-time White House staffer Diane Sawyer. They were an item while both worked for Nixon.

‘The power of Henry working a room is still seismic. All of a sudden everybody wants to step up their game and say something he’ll find interesting or funny,’ Sawyer told New York Magazine in 2006. 

Despite the gossip and tabloid fodder, Reuters’ obituary of Kissinger notes: ‘Those who knew him, however, said the playboy image was mostly a media creation.’

Norwegian actress Liv Ullman also dated Kissinger in the 1970s. In an interview with The Guardian, Ullman said that she only dated him because he did most of the talking and made her feel less self-conscious. 

‘I absolutely disapprove of what he did politically, and I told him so, but he tells good stories. He just thought it was fun to be with me because I don’t understand anything, because I’m stupid in politics and I’m on the wrong side,’ she said. 

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