Comedy legend Peter Cook may have had an affair with socialite and former US first lady Jackie Kennedy, the star's pal and former colleague Alan Bennett has claimed.
Although a friendship between the two had long been known, it is thought to be the first time a member of Cook's circle has gone on record to suggest there was anything further.
Cook, who died in 1995, struck up a rapport with Kennedy when he visited New York in the early 1960s with his Beyond The Fringe revue, which also featured Bennett.
The acclaimed comedy troupe - which also included Dudley Moore and Sir Jonathan Miller - were introduced to Mrs Kennedy and her husband, the US President John F Kennedy, during their feted stint in the city.
Recalling the period, Bennett said in a BBC4 interview with Mark Lawson: "I think Peter, I may be libelling her, but I think Peter had an affair with Jackie Kennedy."
He continued: "I have an image of her standing next to Peter stroking his arm in the dressing room and he certainly went to parties with her."
However, Bennett - whose interview marked his 75th birthday this year - said he had not questioned his friend about any affair with Kennedy.
"It's quite funny about sex and things like that ... we used to know a lot about Dudley's sex life - he didn't boast about it but he was immensely promiscuous and used to tell us all about it and we were all (an) avid audience, but we never talked to each other about the others. There was never any hint that I was gay - they may have known that I was or assumed that I was but it was never discussed in the way it would be now."
Cook went on to even greater renown following his Beyond The Fringe days by continuing in partnership with Moore with TV shows such as Not Only... But Also, starring in Hollywood film Bedazzled and creating the notorious Derek and Clive recordings.
His first wife Wendy Cook has spoken of the friendship between her ex-husband and Jackie Kennedy, although she has in the past said she doubted there was an affair.
"I don't think so. Flirtations were sometimes all you needed," she has said.
Kennedy - who later married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis - died in 1994.Reuse content