Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years

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Face to face with the piquant personality that had charmed de Gaulle, he was charmed as well.

During the musical entertainment after dinner, Khrushchev, assisted by a translator seated just behind them, whispered funny stories in Jackie's ear and took immense pleasure when, every now and then, she covered her lips with a white-gloved hand, threw back her head and laughed. All of this is nonsense of course, but it is the sort of nonsense which was reported at the time and that made her name as a new, young, stylish and Frenchified First Lady who did not spend her evenings like Mamie Eisenhower, eating TV dinners. She could charm the great; or at least her skills at charming the press, and making the story they must tell irresistible, were developed to an astonishing degree.

Working day and night on her guest list while the Bay of Pigs was being invaded, or selecting colour schemes while the Cuban Missile Crisis was going on, could not have made her the most interesting person for ambitious and easily bored foreign visitors. Indira Gandhi, when she visited with her father, 'was full of indignation' at being left with Jackie and 'made no secret of her resentment at being sent off with the President's wife, child and friend. The two women did not hit it off, to say the least. Jackie, in her role as Maggie Verver , was presented with her Charlotte Stant in the guise of a woman named Mary Meyer.

Mary Meyer was a breed apart from the run of secretaries, starlets and upmarket rentgirls normally favoured by JFK. Her family was wealthy; she had, like Jackie, been to Vassar; she was a sister-in-law of Kennedy's friend Ben Bradlee. She introduced the President to the joys of marijuana and planned, with the help of Timothy Leary, to introduce him to LSD. Leary remembered her as 'amused, arrogant, aristocratic'. She was added to the list of those who came regularly for intimate suppers with the President and his wife, just as Joseph Kennedy's mistresses had done in the old days.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

She was quite brazen. When Betty Spalding, a family friend, found them sneaking upstairs to have it off in the nursery during a dinner at the White House, Mary and the President remained completely unfazed. I figured they were going in there for a little sexual action. Mary Meyer's 'willingness to show contempt for Jackie by slipping off with her husband had been a kind of love call to Jack,' Leaming writes, 'a signal that, like him, she was a superior person who did as she pleased.

The President added her to the list even when he himself was going to be absent, thus forcing Jackie to entertain her. Jackie, with a steeliness that served her well in such circumstances, managed to be pointedly gracious to Mary, as if this were not the woman who had been sleeping with her husband all summer.

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Shortly after ten, the unmistakable roar of helicopters signalled that Jack was back in time to see his mistress before the evening ended. The inclusion of Mary Meyer in his family life did not impede the President in more fleeting sexual pursuits. He continued his pool parties, often beginning within seconds of his wife leaving the White House grounds. After the Profumo affair, he congratulated himself, according to Leaming, on 'his emotion-free, and in his view, danger-free couplings'.

Edgar Hoover. Rometsch became a great favourite of the President; according to his friend Bobby Baker, she gave 'the best oral sex' he ever had. Between the assassination of Kennedy in November and her marriage to Aristotle Onassis in October , Jacqueline Kennedy's life had much in common with that of the governess in The Turn of the Screw , constantly frightened by ghosts, apparitions and fresh horrors.

She had two beautiful small children in her care, and she took her role as mother immensely seriously, managing to protect them from the worst excesses of their Kennedy cousins, and managing as best she could to protect and promote her husband's memory. After the assassination, she remained close to Lyndon Johnson; there is an extraordinary tape of her phone calls to him, her voice all breathy and kittenish and sweet, far away from the allure and theatre and mystery of her appearance in photographs in these same years.

She advised him to take a nap every day after lunch. Like the governess in James's story, she found that every time she looked out of the window there was a nightmare or a memory of a nightmare. She regularly mentioned that she had held a piece of her husband's brain in her hands in Dallas that day. She was turfed out of the White House with no idea where or how to live. The world became obsessed with her.

Everyone wanted to take a good look at her, from the Pope to Andy Warhol. There is one thing that you must know. I consider that my life is over and I will spend the rest of my life waiting for it to be really over.

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She had kept her mother both close and at a distance during her time in the White House. She made sure, for example, that Janet and Hughdie got lousy tickets for the Inauguration while her step-siblings, who travelled with them, got better ones. JFK told a friend that he spent as much time dealing with Janet as he did with Khrushchev. When Jackie discovered that Janet, on the day of the assassination, had taken the children from the White House to her own house, she ordered them back.

Yet that day, she also asked Janet and Hughdie to sleep in the President's bed in the room beside hers. In the years after the assassination, Janet did not help by insisting that the event had been plotted by Lyndon Johnson as a way of becoming President. Over the next few years Jackie made a valiant effort to civilise Bobby Kennedy. There was always something oddly intense in her voice when she mentioned him to me. Jackie had already been planning to marry Aristotle Onassis but had agreed to postpone any announcement until after the November election so that it would not damage Bobby's chances.

Now, with Bobby dead, there was no one to stop her. Pottker calls her chapter on the arrival of Onassis 'From Camelot to Caliban'. He appeared in Newport affronting both proportion and discretion, 'squat, sallow, wrinkled and 62 years old', as Pottker puts it. Janet's friend Eileen Slocum spotted him at the beach: 'He was the strangest sight. He had long, long arms, with short legs and a chest covered with dark hair.

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While the Newport men wore Bermuda-shorts-length madras trunks, Ari's were minuscule - barely covering his hirsute loins - and were tightly woven of white wool. As he moved jerkily towards the water, Slocum thought to herself: "He resembles a frog. Later, as they gathered for the wedding on Skorpios, Onassis's private island, whenever Janet could find Jackie alone, she would buttonhole her: 'Don't go through with this.

Tell him you've changed your mind. It's not right for the children. This time there was no Black Jack Bouvier to banish.

Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years by Barbara Leaming

Instead, as she told Slocum, who told Pottker, she moved as. It's not too late to stop. You don't have to do this. You can change your mind. We can leave.


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It's not too late. Dejected, Janet sat down and watched the priest begin the ceremony. Her worst fears had just been realised. Neither Leaming nor Pottker goes into the details of what happened next. This privilege has been embraced by others, among them, Sarah Bradford in America's Queen : 'They would have sex in all sorts of unconventional places, aeroplanes, small boats, the beach, regardless of who might be watching or photographing.


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  • The brother of one of Jackie's Washington friends was shocked by the way Onassis would drag Jackie suddenly into any one of the cabins on the Christina and make love to her without bothering to shut the door. Within a short time Jackie had become Isabel Archer, locked into a marriage with a husband who did not like her, who soon resented her independence and slowly became irritated by her. Just as Isabel gradually discovered that Osmond was a bully who had married her for her money, so Jackie discovered that Onassis was a monster who had married her for the glory.

    Within a short time of the wedding, Onassis began to see Maria Callas again. The years after the death of Onassis, when Jacqueline Kennedy returned to live in New York, lack the fierce drama of her years with Kennedy or the sheer brutish languor of her years with Onassis. Jackie worked in publishing; she acted high and mighty in the world of the arts in New York. She looked after her children, now in their late teens and early twenties. She made clear once more that she liked men who were rich and powerful by forming a liaison from with Maurice Templesman, who was to diamonds what Onassis was to shipping and Kennedy was, when she married him, to politics.

    In the later accounts by writers and journalists, there is a strange defining eloquence, as though they are trying to compete with the camera or the silkscreen print. William Manchester, whose book The Death of a President caused her such grief she believed it had invaded her privacy and compromised her relationship with Johnson , remembered his first meeting with her as he researched the book: 'My first impression - and it never changed - was that I was in the presence of a very great tragic actress.

    I mean that in the finest sense of the word. There was a weekend in American history when we needed to be united in our sadness by the superb example of a bereaved First Lady, and Jacqueline Kennedy. O'Brien wrote about her:. So many of her qualities - that breathless enthusiasm, a certain giddiness late at night, a passionate love of clothes - revealed the perennial child.

    But the barriers which she built around herself betray a woman who had espoused self-preservation from the start. Distance and distancing were central to her, not only from others but from huge parts of herself. It was what gave her that inexplicable aura. Her mystery was that she was a mystery to herself. Executive Privileges A steamy vision of Camelot, just in time for summer. Reviewed by William E. By Sally Bedell Smith. Random House. Sally Bedell Smith has written the nonfiction beach book of the season. Last year Robert Dallek published a thoughtful, well-crafted page biography of John F.

    Kennedy that created a media sensation because of one brief passage revealing JFK's liaison with a White House intern. In Grace and Power, you need more than a scorecard to keep track of all of the women, some of them nubile staffers, who hopped into bed with the leader of the free world; you need an adding machine. Some of the revelations are of the sort that usually provide fodder for lurid gazettes at a supermarket checkout counter. A Georgetown University doctor, we are told, tutored Jackie over the phone on foreplay techniques to improve her sex life with Jack who, for all of his frenetic activity, was a lousy lover.

    In the months after her husband's hideous death, we are further informed, Jackie asked a Jesuit priest, "Do you think God would separate me from my husband if I killed myself? Wouldn't God understand that I just want to be with him? It would be altogether unfair to the author, though, to suggest that she has written a slick cut-and-paste exploitation shocker in the style of a London tabloid.

    She has conducted interviews, consulted 65 oral histories, explored FBI files and ranged widely in archives from the Bodleian Library at Oxford to the University of Wyoming. She takes pains to sift evidence, sometimes casting doubt on salacious gossip, and she is in firm command of the vast Kennedy scholarship. In more than one respect, however, the narrative is skewed. There is too much on grace, too little on power. At a critical moment in the history of the country, her chief protagonist is not the president, but the first lady: Jackie's choices of decorator fabrics, "her Cassini-designed dresses in shimmering 'sun colors' of pink, azure, yellow, and green," her riding to hounds.

    When the author does discuss affairs of state, she is lucid and knowledgeable about foreign policy. Domestic matters, though, do not interest her. In the first pages of the volume, the civil rights movement, which reached a crescendo in these years, gets only two paragraphs. She is aware of Arthur Schlesinger's sage warning that the Camelot myth is "mischievous," but she does not pay it sufficient heed.

    At the close of her acknowledgments section, in the very last sentence of the book, she writes, "Perhaps Camelot is too much with me. Given that effusive judgment, it is curious how unattractively both of the Kennedys are often portrayed in these pages. Smith depicts Jackie as spoiled, narcissistic and snotty, an insular young woman only 31 on becoming first lady who allowed no woman to become close -- and none to join her staff -- who had not gone to Brearley, Chapin or some other posh school. Jack is seen entertaining guests by reading aloud to them the muck in FBI reports on his appointees; betraying Adlai Stevenson by planting a false story in the press; and slinking through underground tunnels, flashlight in hand, in order to carry off assignations undetected at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel.

    In one ugly episode, with both his wife and one of his mistresses aboard a cruise, he makes crude advances toward his mistress's sister, then wife of Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee. Nonetheless, the author insists that the Kennedys and their crowd were "special people. It does not take much to qualify as more "special" than the rest of us. Jayne Wrightsman, we are assured, "had flair -- an example was the 'y' she added to her first name in high school. Jackie's addiction to nearly a pack of cigarettes a day is characterized as "a badge of sophistication," adorning her since her days at "Farmington" Miss Porter's School.

    Cuba Libres, those vile mixes of rum, Coke and lime juice doled out by impecunious graduate students, are "exotic. The book may turn some readers into raging Jacobins. On a trip to India, the author reports, Jackie and her sister Lee Radziwill traveled with 64 pieces of luggage, and in less than a week Jackie appeared in 20 different outfits. Meryl Gordon is the director of magazine writing at the Arthur L. Download Nulled WordPress Themes. Free Download WordPress Themes. Leaming has produced not only the definitive account of the Kennedy marriage, but also a richly detailed and marvelously dramatic picture of John F.

    Kennedy and his administration as they have never been seen before. The Presidency Begins. Tell Me About Macmillan. She lives in Connecticut.



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