Dr. Feelgood

I heard an interview with Frederick Kempe, who wrote a book called Berlin 1961, about the Kennedy administration’s first year in office. My ears perked up when I heard him mention that JFK had a certain doctor, Max Jacobson, inject him with amphetamines for the Vienna Summit with Nikita Khrushchev in June of 1961. I’m sorry, who, what?!

Max Jacobson was a German-born doctor who emigrated to the US in 1936. By 1952 he had become a doctor to the stars: Anthony Quinn, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Cecil B. DeMille, Yul Brynner, Marlene Dietrich, Zero Mostel, Nelson Rockefeller all became his patients after the “vitamin injection’ treatments he had developed became famous. What was in them? Multivitamins, steroids, enzymes, hormones, bone marrow, animal organ cells, solubilized placenta, and of course, amphetamines – i.e. speed.

By 1960, he was already treating, at the time, senator Kennedy. In fact, he gave him an injection before the famous televised debate with, also at the time, vice-president Richard Nixon.

One of these men is high. The other is Nixon. Who would you vote for?

As I said, Jacobson was with Kennedy in Vienna in June of 1961 and gave him some of his miracle drug for talks with Khrushchev. By May 1962, Jacobson visited the White House thirty-four times. And he gave the president much needed boosts for the struggle with US Steel later that year and even the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Jacobson is standing, right

Jacobson eventually committed the cardinal sin for a charlatan. He bought into his own bullshit. (And in his case, who knows, there might have been actual bull shit in his cocktails.) He started taking his own injections. Speed may be fun and a temporary solution for fatigue, burn out, depression or some such, but Jacobson was ordering enough amphetamine for over a hundred doses a day! He saw thirty or more patients a day, and worked around the clock with never a day off.

In 1969, just as the fun-loving sixties came to a close, Mark Shaw, the official Kennedy photographer, died of an amphetamine overdose, age 47. This led to an investigation into Jacobson’s practices as a doctor, and the revoking of his license in 1972. He died in 1979.

During his time working with celebrities, Jacobson was called Miracle Max and Dr. Feelgood. It is entirely possible that he made it into Aretha Franklin’s song Dr. Feelgood. The lyrics towards the end:

Don’t send me no doctor
Filling me up with all of those pills
I got me a man named ‘Dr. Feelgood’
And oh, yeah that man takes care of all my pains and my ills.
His name is Dr. Feelgood in the morning.
Taking care of business is really this man’s game.
And after one visit to Dr. Feelgood
You’d understand why Feelgood is his name
Oh yeah, oh good God Almighty the man sure makes me feel real



One Comment to “Dr. Feelgood”

  1. I wouldn’t say that Max was charlatan, he just liked his own supplies which is nothing strange between drug dealers. Also, drugs research and its application is not so new thing but it’f funny that Max came from Germany.
    Referring upper link I’m not claiming he was part of Nazi war logistics. It’s more like he ran away from it but his methods do look like he was applying on JFK what Wehrmacht was applying on its soldiers.
    It’s well known that drugs are bad. I’m not sure in that but I’m suspicious about drugs consuming motifs. Most of superstars (which could be seen as a soldiers of contemporary times, nevermind if they are actors, politicians, musicians, artists or something else) had society high-ranking achievements although they’ve been high. If we take this James Brown video as an example we can see that as long as he sings – the world looks and feels good.

    The REAL problem starts when JB does not sing and when soldiers don’t have a war to fight. Otherwise drugs are fine.

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