CNN profile from August 1998


Monica Lewinsky
A high school yearbook photo of
Monica Lewinsky

Who Is Monica Lewinsky?

Everyone knows her face, but very few people can claim to know Monica

By Jonathan Aiken/CNN

WASHINGTON (Aug. 6) -- Since January, her face has been seen almost everywhere -- yet to most people, she remains an enigma.

So who is Monica Lewinsky? What do we know about her?

We know she was born in San Francisco on July 23, 1973 into an affluent family -- her father, Bernard, owned a chain of cancer therapy clinics in suburban Los Angeles.

The Lewinsky family's address was, literally, Beverly Hills, 90210. Monica attended private and public schools. Childhood friends say she was a fun person to know and be with despite the bitter divorce of her parents in 1989.

Two years later, she graduated from Bel Air Prep, in West Hollywood.

Lewinsky and her father
Monica Lewinsky and her father,
Dr. Bernard Lewinsky

Richard Makoff, Lewinsky's former headmaster, said, "I remember her being a nice kid and pretty normal young lady. The only extra-curricular activity she was involved in was chorus."

In May 1995, she graduated from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. That summer, Ms. Lewinsky came to Washington as an intern at the White House.

Former White House intern Shannon Joyce remembered Monica as "ambitious and knew what she wanted and was very friendly."

Now, most Americans know her name, recognize her face yet the descriptions of her as a person have exclusively been the words of others.

When first explaining his role in helping Lewinsky find a job, presidential friend Vernon Jordan said, "I was pleased to be helpful to Ms. Lewinsky whose drive, ambition and personality were impressive."

Former Lewinsky attorney Bill Ginsburg described his client as "a bright and effusive young lady."

Lewinsky and her mother
Lewinsky and her mother, Marcia Lewis

"Monica is very,very energetic and very charismatic and has tremendous ideas and no matter what task you give her, she gets involved and goes to it," said her dad, Dr. Bernard Lewinsky.

Now she is the topic of endless conversations and news stories -- and the butt of endless jokes.

"It's a very sad thing of what's happened to Monica. She has been totally misportrayed in the media. They malign her. Monica is not a punch line of jokes," her father said.

But she is also at the center of a scandal, making very public property of a young woman very few people can claim to know.