Monica Lewinsky has flipped the narrative. Unjustly vilified for her role in President Clinton’s impeachment, Monica endured failed attempts at reinvention, crude jokes from talk show hosts, dishonorable mentions in rap songs, and endless appearances on tabloid headlines. However, she is now an outspoken advocate against bullying and seems to have a promising Hollywood career ahead of her.
Impeachment: American Crime Story has given viewers snippets of the Lewinsky story that few knew. In one of the episodes, we see Lewinsky’s interview at the Ritz-Carlton, with the FBI pressuring her to provide incriminating evidence against the president or risk having her mother spend twenty years in prison.
Monica’s parents continue to support Lewinsky as she battles bullying
Following Linda Tripp’s tip-off to authorities, the FBI put Monica in a room at the Ritz-Carlton and tried to pressure her into giving information about President Clinton. However, the 24-year-old proved impervious to the FBI’s scare tactics.
The Bureau eventually allowed her to call her mom via phone outside the hotel. Monica’s mom, Marcia Lewis, arrived at the Ritz-Carlton within minutes and advised Monica to cooperate. In the docuseries The Clinton Affair, Lewis recalled:
“I said, ‘You must cooperate, Monica.’ I wanted her to do what they said because they were threatening more than 20 years in jail, and this would be just to protect Bill Clinton. That’s who they were really after. She was just a means.”
However, Monica refused to cooperate due to the FBI’s reluctance to offer her a deal in writing. Lewis and a distraught Monica returned to the Watergate Hotel uncertain about their futures. “[Monica] kept repeating, ‘I just want to die. I just want to die,’” Marcia said.
Marcia stayed by Monica’s side throughout, and fearing that she would commit suicide, made Monica shower with the bathroom door open. Monica told People that Marcia played the most significant role in helping her survive the scandal:
“Her ability to say, ‘It will get better. You’ll be able to go outside one say and not wear a hat. You’ll be able to walk down the street one day,’ – she was right.”
On The Clinton Affair, Monica’s father, Bernard Lewinsky, described his surprise after learning of Monica’s involvement with the president. “She said Monica was in trouble, did I know anything about her and the president?” Bernard said. “And I said, ‘What, no, I don’t know anything.”
Monica’s motivation to reclaim her narrative sparked after she saw Marcia’s reaction to Tyler Clementi’s suicide. Clementi committed suicide after a roommate filmed him getting intimate with another man. The news reminded Lewis of the times she thought Monica would kill herself.
Lewinsky’s family continues to stick by her. “My connections to friends and family are what’s most important to me,” Monica told People. In The Clinton Affair, Marcia said: “We love Monica. We love and adore Monica, and her whole family, her whole family was supporting her.”
Monica’s parents lived an affluent but turbulent life in Beverly Hills before their divorce
Bernard Lewinsky is a descendant of German Jews who fled Nazi Germany and settled in El Salvador. The family moved to the United States when he was 14.
Twelve years later, Bernard married Marcia Kay Vilensky. Bernard earned his medical license in 1969 and went on to have a prosperous career as a radiation oncologist. His income funded the family’s move to Beverly Hills and Marcia’s affluent lifestyle.
Thanks to Bernard’s massive income, Marcia didn’t have to work. After Monica and her brother, Michael, went to school, Marcia spent her time shopping and having dates with friends.
However, behind the affluent life lay endless turmoil between Bernard and Marcia. Lewis’ divorce filing in 1987 painted Bernard as abusive towards her and the kids. Marcia also insinuated that Bernard was having an affair by stating that he was giving presents to a ‘third party.’
Marcia added that the kids feared Bernard because he often dismissed them. ‘On many occasions, the respondent will tell the children, ‘Leave the dinner table,’ ‘We don’t want your opinion,’ and other similar remarks, leaving the children totally inhibited and in fear of him.”
Bernard denied Lewis’ assertions and claimed that Marcia’s spending had almost driven him to financial ruin. “I take the blame for having failed to force a reduction in the standard of living; although we have argued with it for years,” he claimed.
Marcia attempted to get as much as possible from the divorce by claiming that Bernard had to maintain the affluent lifestyle she and the kids lived. She claimed:
“I and the children have never have to worry about the cost of anything that we reasonably desired. I have always been able to buy whatever clothes either I, or the children, needed or desired and I have always been able to spend substantial amounts of monies for grooming, health and aesthetic purposes.”
Monica’s career as a writer introduced her to her second husband, R. Peter Straus
Monica’s divorce pushed her to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. She wrote a couple of feature articles for The Hollywood Reporter before immersing herself in writing her only book, The Private Lives of the Three Tenors.
She earned a decent payment for the gossip book, which sold 20,000 copies. In the book, Marcia hinted at having an affair with Placido Domingo, whom she’d only met in social circles.
The book earned her a modest income, and more significantly, introduced her to R. Peter Strauss. Lewis and the media executive married in 1998. R. Peter Straus passed away in 2021, aged 89.
Bernard Lewinsky married a woman named Barbara and remains successful in the medical field. He combines his love for medicine with a passion for photography.
He runs ‘healing art galleries’ at the various medical centers around the country that he claims helps patients deal with treatment. He told ABC7 LA:
“I found that patients got a lot of peaceful satisfaction from looking at the images. If you have some peaceful, calming images to concentrate on you may relax and really not notice the treatment that much.”
Bernard saw his family’s treatment in the White House as odd
Bernard and Marcia couldn’t believe that Marcia had earned a job in the White House so soon after graduation.
In June 1996, Monica’s dad, stepmom Barbara, and brother Michael toured the White House and met President Clinton in The Oval Office. Bernard viewed Clinton’s treatment of the family as odd. On The Clinton Affair, he said:
“When we walked in, he was friendly, very familiar with us, and that felt somewhat strange. But we accepted it. You know, we were so proud to be there and to see The Oval Office. Not everybody gets to do that.”
Barbara also noted something peculiar about Clinton’s treatment of his visitors. “When [Clinton] was positioning us for the photo shoot it seemed a little bit odd, a little bit odd,” she explained.
Clinton’s special treatment of the family made sense after news of the affair leaked. Monica regrets dragging her family into a saga they didn’t create. She told Dax Shepard on the Armchair Expert podcast:
“There is your own guilt, and the guilt of having sucked everyone else in your life into it. It’s one of the reasons I am so unbelievably grateful for all the changes that have been made over the past few years.”