On March 20, 2009 the Austrian newspaper Kurier reported a story that was rather amazing. I actually double-checked the calendar – just to make sure that it was not April 1st yet (it turned out it was not). The story recounts a series of interviews with Austrian-born Lisa Lanett, who claims that John F. “Jack” Kennedy is the father of her son. The article acknowledged that Ms. Lanett could not provide proof for her claims.
Here is a rough translation of the important facts, with some of my own research strewn in.
Lisa Lanett was born in the village Hinterbrühl near Vienna in 1921 (possibly on August 7, based on an entry in the Web calendar of the Anglican Church of San Antonio that is no longer accessible). Her grandfather, Archduke Otto “the Handsome”, had two illegitimate children with Marie Schleinzer, a ballet dancer at the Vienna Court Opera (here is an unrelated, but amazing picture of the beginning of construction of the opera from 1863). She went on to marry Dr. Julius Hortenau, a spa doctor from Abbazia, who was later gentled by emperor Franz Joseph, supposedly as a gesture to Marie. Lisa’s father, Alfred von Hortenau, therefore was the bastard half-brother of Karl I, last emperor of the Habsburg empire. Lisa’s origin is undisputed by historians.
At age 17, she was on vacation in Rome with her mother when Hitler occupied Austria. They decided to not return to Vienna, but to move to the US instead.
They lived in Phoenix, AZ for a number of years, where her mother ran the motel ‘Monterey Lodge’. In 1942 (43?), she met John F. Kennedy, who apparently stayed at the motel while recovering from back surgery. Looking at the picture of a rather modest road-side motel above, this version seems a bit questionable, though. Other sources state that Kennedy stayed at the Arizona Biltmore, or at the Castle Hot Springs Hotel while in Phoenix.
Kennedy was injured when his PT-109 torpedo boat was rammed and sunk by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri in August of 1943. He had back problems before this incident, but he did not have surgery until he returned from duty in 1943. While the story dates their initial meeting at 1942, it seems that they must have met in 1943 or 1944.
Either way, they fell in love, and in the spring of 1945 Lisa found out that she was pregnant. JFK offered her marriage, but she was not interested.
According to the article, JFK later paid the tuition for their son Tony at Peekskill Military Academy. Peekskill closed in 1968. The Alumni Website does not have complete class lists for the years in question.
Tony was adopted by his Grandmother Charlotte Böhler, who’s second husband was an Austrian by the name of Richard Böhler (possibly of the Böhler steel dynasty, but I was unable to confirm this). Tony (Antonio) Bohler is 64 today. He lives in California (the article does not tell us, where), is divorced, has 2 sons, and retired from an art gallery.
The author of the article was able to reach him by phone, and a follow-up story about the conversation is expected to be published on Monday, March 23.
At the age of 87 and at the time of this writing, Lisa Lanett still worked as a real estate agent. There was a listing for a real estate agent by the name of Lisa Lanett in San Antonio [the listing is no longer viewable as of 2014]. A search of the archives on the JFK Library’s website for the terms “Lisa” or “Phoenix” did not reveal any documents that would have shed more light on this story.
Why did she keep this a secret for so long? Tony was apparently told that Lisa’s first husband (who was Mexican) was his real father. She had already divorced the man when she met JFK. Coming from a family that had to keep secrets like this one for centuries, she probably did not feel an urge to share her son’s origin with the world.