Read the Letter Jackie Kennedy Wrote to RFK’s Wife Ethel After His Death | posavski-obzor.info
Robert Kennedy (right) with wife Ethel and children Kathleen, 15, Joseph, 14, But when that relationship ended, Ethel pursued her man. Picture: UPI US president John F. Kennedy, Ethel, Jackie and Robert Kennedy in. Kathy McKeon had a front-row view of Kennedy family history during more than a John, Ethel, Jackie, and Robert Kennedy at the beach. Though her last name was now Onassis, she was still Jackie Kennedy to Through the years, her relationship with her sister-in-law had been complex.
She had been the First Lady. She had traveled the world in grand style, met with kings and queens, lived in luxury and wealth, never wanted for much at least in terms of the materialand experienced the intense love and unabashed adoration—and, of course, criticism—of millions of people, just for being who she was: Though her last name was now Onassis, she was still Jackie Kennedy to everyone who remembered a certain time… a certain place.
Once, long ago, though it seemed like just yesterday, Jackie had been the queen of what was the brightest and best of Camelot: As First Lady, and even beyond her classic reign over this so-called Camelot, she was a woman whose style, personality, and refinement had made such an indelible imprint on our culture that she actually seemed immortal—which was why her death was such a shock.
If it was sometimes difficult to remember that she was a woman—flesh and blood like the rest of us—her mortality, the result of the very human and unforgiving disease, cancer, was an all-too-cruel reminder. Hundreds of mourners—friends, politicians, socialites, writers, artists, entertainment figures—as well as the many members of the Kennedy family came to bid a tearful adieu to Jackie and to remember their experiences with her.
It was a funeral of deeply felt prayers, music, poetry, and warm feelings in the same great marble New York church in which the former First Lady had been baptized and confirmed. If you knew Jackie, you knew that there was nothing insincere about her.
Like sisters, they would reach out to one another over the years to comfort and console during times of immeasurable disappointment and pain. And, like sisters, they were also known to accuse and attack one another. However, throughout the Camelot years of the s they would forge a sisterhood, sometimes against great odds.
Ethel and Joan likely would never forget what Jackie had meant to them. Joan had been able to depend on her older sister-in-law for a sympathetic ear and sensible advice. Sitting with her large family, Ethel seemed contemplative and understandably saddened this morning.
Through the years, her relationship with her sister-in-law had been complex, a mixture of admiration, respect, and understanding, as well as envy and the inevitable contentiousness that arises from vast differences in temperament. As often happens in life, the two sisters-in-law allowed a personal disagreement to come between them.
With the passing of time, their difficult estrangement became the natural order of things, almost a habit. Just as she had requested, she was laid to rest on a verdant hillside in Arlington National Cemetery beside the eternal flame she herself had lit thirty-one years earlier for her husband.
She bore them all with dignity and grace and uncommon common sense…. May the flame she lit so long ago burn ever brighter here and always brighter in our hearts. There is much to remember of a time that was like no other. Indeed, even after all these years, we still look back with wonder. Ignoring the many friends, family members, photographers, and Secret Service agents coming and going, rushing in and out of the house and slamming the screen door behind them, she quietly slipped into a knee-length wool coat before wrapping a silk scarf around her head.
After a stroll across an expansive, well-manicured lawn, and then down a wood-chipped pathway, she found herself on the sandy coves where the Kennedys went to seek rare moments of privacy and reflection. Joan walked along the shore of wild dune grass and sand, and slowly headed for the breakwater. It was November 9, In fact, he had received only aboutmore popular votes than Richard M. Nixon, out of some million cast, the equivalent of about one vote per precinct.
Playing to win was a family characteristic. As he raised himself from the soft ground, his shock of auburn hair mussed and his blue eyes twinkling, he looked more like a high school student than the next leader of the Free World. The only reminder of his age—forty-three—and his aching back was the groan he let out as he got to his feet. Joan, the youngest Kennedy wife at twenty-four, had arrived the night before from her home in Boston, without her boyishly handsome husband, Ted.
When it looked as though a win was probable for her brother-in-law, Joan became caught up in the excitement and started calling Republican friends on the telephone to collect election bets. Joan and Ted were parents of a baby daughter, Kara, born in February of that year.
They had been married for a little over two years and were about to move from their first home—a modest town house in Louisburg Square, the most exclusive part of Beacon Hill—into a three-story, ivy-covered, redbrick house, one of fifteen others in a horseshoe-shaped enclave in nearby Charles River Square.
In fact, when he and Joan went there to look for a home, Joan enjoyed the West Coast so much she began to anticipate a contented life there, with the large family she hoped to one day raise in year-round California sunshine. He suggested—insisted, actually—that the newlyweds return to the Washington area.
Though he had graduated from Harvard, had received his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School, and had been admitted to the Massachusetts bar, he and his father decided that he would not practice law.
A month after their daughter Kara was born, a still-weak Joan joined Ted on the campaign trail, probably not because she wanted to but because she had no choice. The election of John Kennedy was an exciting milestone for the family, and of course, Joan joined in their enthusiasm. However, she must have had certain reservations. From the day she became engaged to Ted, her life was not her own.
He and his family had overpowered her, from dictating the kind of wedding she would have to deciding where she would live—and that was before Jack had become President. Now that he had won the election and the family was even more influential, the Kennedys had more ambitious plans for Ted.
So what would the future hold for her and her family? Long arms wrapped around herself and slim shoulders hunched forward, she appeared to be trying to keep the Nantucket Sound chill at bay. Wearing a beige raincoat, flat-heeled walking shoes, and a scarf around her hair, Jackie, too, had slipped away while the others played touch football. She rarely, if ever, participated in such family rough-housing. Luckily for her, she was nearly eight months pregnant and not expected to play sports, even by the always competitive, game-loving Kennedys.
She needed to get away. However, Jackie was known for her paradoxical personality. As would later become well known, she enjoyed recognition yet abhorred publicity. While she savored her celebrity, she expected her privacy and that of her family to be respected.
True, she enjoyed money, power, and status, but she placed equal importance on practical female concerns of the day, such as raising her family and being a good wife. However, in time, he would grow to be strong and healthy, like most Kennedy stock.
Just after his birth, Jackie would move from her home in Georgetown to a new one in Washington, the White House. Meeting with some of the female members of the Washington press corps in her Georgetown home was undoubtedly another memorable event for Jackie. Jackie probably knew that once they had a chance to become more familiar with her, they would become allies. However, the prospect of their trooping through her private residence must have been repugnant to her.
So Jackie had some of the more important female reporters over for tea and, true to form, proceeded to dazzle each one of them. Soon the press would be criticizing everything she did, from how much money she spent on clothing to how much time she spent away from the White House. Throughout her life she would engage in a love-hate relationship with the press, seemingly reveling in the fact that everywhere she went she was recognized and photographed, yet also acting as if she detested the attention, never revealing more of herself than absolutely necessary.
But she drops a curtain in front of you. No one will ever get to know her. She responded with one word: It was one of the few things she had in common with the other Kennedys—and one other Kennedy wife. Joan finally caught up with her sister-in-law. Sharing a smile, the two women walked together along the shore. She began jumping about, arms raised to the sky, hands shaking in the air, in her own victory dance. Certainly few were filled with more joy on this chilly November election day than Ethel Kennedy.
Not really a contemplative woman, Ethel Skakel Kennedy seemed always eager to meet her destiny head-on. She experienced life for all it was worth, much like Jackie. However, whereas Jackie and, to a certain extent, Joan needed meditative moments to analyze her problems, sort out inner turmoil, and then determine productive courses of action, Ethel surrendered all responsibility for her life to God.
It was easier for her to handle unexpected circumstances that way, she had said, and it worked for her. McClellan and now included stables, orchards, and a swimming pool—was always filled with children, friends, family, business associates, and anyone else who happened by. Ethel loved to entertain. Jackie and Jack had lived at Hickory Hill first; it was rumored that Joseph had given the six-acre estate to them as a gift, but Jack had actually purchased it himself.
Jackie had planned to raise her children there; however, when she had a stillbirth inshe no longer wanted anything to do with Hickory Hill. So after Jack lost a bid for the vice-presidential nomination inthe couple moved back to Georgetown.
Meanwhile, Ethel and Bobby bought Hickory Hill. She could be as critical as she could be accepting, as heartless as she could be generous, as wicked as she could be loving.
Moreover, even though the Kennedys were known to be competitive and not only with outsiders but also against each otherher aggressive nature was a source of amazement even to family members.
She actually seemed to enjoy the intrusion. The more chaos in her life, the better; it seemed to make her feel involved, a part of important things. Hers was no ordinary family, either. In the bigger picture, we were doing great things for the nation. How dare I complain about a lack of privacy? She would be sure to know the right meal to serve, the perfect outfit to wear, the appropriate thing to say.
In the end, the success of the event would be not only a victory for the family but a personal one as well, giving her a sense of purpose and accomplishment. In fact, the preceding evening, at just before midnight, Ethel Kennedy was in her bedroom, dressed in brightly patterned wool slacks, holding an impromptu press conference with reporters from Time and Life magazines. Go ahead, help yourself. It all seemed a joy to Ethel.
Throughout the night before, Bobby sat in front of the television screen, his eyes red-rimmed and hollow, monitoring the returns, while everyone else—even Jack—went to bed. Sixteen of these dark-suited, officious-looking men had arrived at seven that morning with full knowledge of the backgrounds of not only family members but their employees as well. Each agent walked about the compound greeting people as if already having made their acquaintance when actually—at least in most cases—no introductions had been made before this day.
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Hill, who would be at her side whenever she ventured forth, whether in this country or abroad. You become close, as Mrs. Kennedy and I did. It was really an invasion of privacy for her. She lost her freedom. Will we ever have any privacy again? In seconds, one of the men caught up to her and Jackie.
Wearing a dark business suit, thin black tie, and black hat, he must have looked out of place on the beach with his walkie-talkie. I will not be followed by these men for the next four years. I refuse to allow it. Unlike Ethel, Joan barely had a clue what her husband—and his father—had in mind for the future. He mentioned something about leaving for Europe soon for a six-week fact-finding tour with a Senate Foreign Relations Committee unit. However, all Joan knew about that trip was that she would not be accompanying him.Top 10 Best actresses who played the role of Jackie Kennedy in Jackie Kennedy movies
Upon his return, Ted would end up taking a job as a dollar-a-year assistant district attorney of Suffolk County in Massachusetts while he prepared for his senatorial campaign. Contrary to what Ethel liked to believe, Jack always discussed his future intentions with Jackie, just as much as his brother, Bobby, did with Ethel. Not so with Joan and Ted.
If Joan had asked for advice, Jackie would perhaps have given her some. Jackie, who always enjoyed social gatherings, was referring to the balls, receptions, and other inaugural festivities that would usher in the new administration. Above all else, at the outset of this administration the new First Lady seemed to be looking forward to balls and parties.
What will I wear? She had already started planning her wardrobe with her couturier, Oleg Cassini. Jack Defeats Nixon The so-called Kennedy compound, where the family had congregated to await the results of the election, was actually a triangle of large Cape Cod—style houses separated by a common, meticulously kept lawn.
At one corner of the triangle was the Big House on Scudder Avenue, a large seventeen-room home with green shutters, facing Nantucket Sound, which had belonged to Joseph and his wife Rose since Their eldest living son, Jack, and his wife Jackie owned a smaller home a hundred yards away on Irving Avenue, surrounded by hedges.
The youngest male sibling, Ted, and his wife Joan would purchase a home on Squaw Island, a peninsula about a mile from the compound, in March These were all summer homes—typical white-clapboard New England structures that looked like large oceanfront hotels, which were usually closed up after the Christmas holidays.
On the afternoon of the presidential victory, the entire Kennedy family was scheduled to go by motorcade to the Hyannis Armory, which had been converted into a pressroom. White House bureau chief since and the first woman to be elected an officer of the National Press Club.
In some odd way, it was as if we had given national approval to a new dynasty. For dessert, they enjoyed a nice assortment of petits fours, eclairs, and turnovers. Afterward, the casually dressed Kennedys would need to change clothing quickly for the media. It was all just that hectic. A photo should be taken. The women had their own version of the uniform.
Earrings should be inconspicuous enough to be barely noticed. All the ladies wore black or gray long-sleeved dresses or suits, with two notable exceptions: Rose wore a bright red short-sleeved sheath dress, which highlighted her still slim figure; it would be sure to stand out against all the dark clothes everyone else was wearing.
Ethel appeared in a bright pink dress with matching sweater.
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Rose was probably too excited by the importance of the occasion to make mention of it to Ethel, however. Because she had gone for another walk along the beach, she was delayed in getting ready for the photo session.
Jack, magnificently tanned and looking fit in his dark suit, stood up and walked to the entryway to meet his wife. Taking her by the arm, he escorted her into the room, beaming with pride. As if on unspoken cue, the elderly Joseph stood up and began to applaud. Rose joined her husband, standing and applauding, then Bobby and Teddy followed suit. All the while she grinned broadly, shaking her head in disbelief.
She went to Rose and embraced her, then to Joseph. When she found Joan, who was clapping while standing alone in a corner, Jackie walked directly to her and kissed her on the check. After whispering something in her ear, the two women hugged each other. Then, as the applause continued, Jackie worked her way to the other side of the library, embracing the Kennedy sisters, Eunice, Pat, and then Jean.
Campaigning had always been an important part of the lives of these Kennedy women, and they expected Jackie to be just as excited about the traveling, the speeches which were usually short and inconsequentialthe photos—all of it.
In fact, we ended up carrying the state. This fact served only to exasperate further the rest of them. Campaigning was difficult for Jackie, especially when she had to be in front of an audience.
For instance, she had been asked to warm up the crowd before her husband made an appearance in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As Jackie sang, the crowd of potential voters sat before her slack-jawed and bewildered. After Jackie was finished, she acknowledged a smattering of polite applause and hastily brought out her husband, the candidate, to wild cheers. As frustrated as the Kennedy women were about Jackie, they were even more aggravated by Joan. Despite her great beauty and vivacious personality, she was too shy and self-conscious to he an effective stumper.
In September, Joan and Ethel embarked on a trip to Chicago, where they spent three days attending rallies and meetings with female voters. Ethel was in her element and found it all exhilarating: A public relations strategist by instinct, Ethel fairly dragged Joan from meeting to meeting, prompting her in her answers, coaching and cajoling her every step of the way.
By the time they left Chicago, Ethel was more exhausted by her tutoring of Joan than she was by the purpose of the trip itself. Ted was embarrassed by her lack of confidence and later chided her for it, which only added to her humiliation. In San Francisco, Joan joined her sister-in-law Pat at rallies and meetings, looking like a frightened child on the first day of grade school, while Pat displayed the kind of exuberance and public relations savvy for which the Kennedy women were well known.
The impromptu standing ovation the Kennedy women gave Jackie in the library on the day Jack was elected was a clear acknowledgment that whatever their frustrations about her, they now recognized that she was the First Lady and thus deserved their respect. By the time she got to her, the applause had died down. Jackie reached for Ethel. However, rather than melt into an embrace with Jackie, as had the other women, Ethel took a step backward and then held out her hand, palm down.
After Jackie took it in hers, the two sisters-in-law shared an uncomfortable and brief moment, one that said a great deal about their uneasy relationship. Later that evening, in the presence of photographer Stanley Tretick at a photo session for the Kennedy women, Ethel would be overheard expressing concern that perhaps the family had afforded Jackie more preferential treatment than necessary by giving her such an ovation.
As the motorcade that would take the Kennedys to the Armory for the press conference began to form in front of the Big House, the family members inside busied themselves deciding who would sit where for the photograph. Everyone was laughing, trying to figure out what to do, where to look. It was a wonderful, joyous time. It would be a new era of elegance in the White House; clearly, Jackie had already decided as much. However, she was ill and weak after the recent cesarean section necessary for the arrival of John Jr.
Was she up to the task of re-creating herself, of masking any appearance of poor health and of radiating nothing but youthful, blooming vigor? But you pace yourself, and you get through it. When Sinatra heard that the Kennedy car was at last pulling up to the door, he rushed into the swirling snow to personally escort them inside.
Jackie, her hair heavily lacquered to withstand the fiercest gusts, extended her white-gloved hand and Sinatra led her into the building. At this time, it was no secret that Jackie disliked Frank Sinatra. On this point, she and Bobby were in wholehearted agreement. While flashbulbs popped all around her, the glamorous Mrs.
Kennedy just smiled broadly as the handsome crooner led her to the raised presidential box. Her refusal to wear a fur coat had inspired Cassini to design a simple, fawn-colored suit with a trim of sable and a matching muff.
On her head she wore what would soon become a trademark of hers—a pillbox hat—this time in matching beige, by Halston. Donal Lynch reports from the States on the latest twist in the long-running saga of Camelot IT was the small hours of October 4,and wearing her trademark dark glasses and an exquisite woollen coat hand-made by the White House couturier, Oleg Cassini US First Lady Jackie Kennedy met her friend Suzanne Roosevelt in a side street behind Constitution Square in Athens.
Two state limousines were waiting to whisk them to the port of Athens, where Aristotle Onassis's yacht, the Christina, gleamed in the morning fog. It was marvellously clandestine. At the time, there were already loud whispers about the links between the First Lady of Camelot the name given to the Kennedy 'court' and Onassis, the Greek shipping magnate whom she would eventually marry.
One theory was that Jackie's motivation was making JFK pay for all of his philandering -- the US president was later called a "lame-duck husband". But the really interesting story was that it was Bobby, and not his brother John, who seemed prepared to joust with Onassis to protect the Kennedy family's claim on Jackie. It was RFK, as Bobby was known, and not the president who ordered a complete Secret Service security blackout to ensure that there would be no local coverage of Jackie's arrival.
This was a tactic designed to humiliate Onassis, who was not bowed. That night he phoned his friend and associate Costas Gratsos in Paris. In Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story, C. David Heymann alleges that over a long period, both before and after JFK's death, and during her courtship with Onassis, the president's brother and the First Lady carried on an affair.
It's not the first time this has been alleged including by the author himself but the sheer breadth and apparent thoroughness of Heymann's research this time round has given many who previously doubted the affair pause, and provoked a firestorm of controversy among Kennedy historians. Yes, Bobby and Jackie had a relationship as friends but it the romance is a total exaggeration. I feel sorry for Heymann. They point out that Heymann has often used single sources, accounts from people who have since passed away making them difficult to verify and third-hand hearsay.
Against that, there has traditionally been intense rivalry between various writers to unearth new strands of the Kennedy story -- fits of pique on the part of fellow historians of the dynasty are not entirely unexpected. Heymann has been remarkably transparent about his sources -- his interview tapes are in a public library in New York.
And he does have quotes verifying the affair from a number of sources, including, bizarrely, Arthur Schlesinger himself. In Heymann's account, Jackie's relationship with Bobby began as revenge but then morphed into real love. While she cruised aboard Onassis's yacht she may have looked the picture of regal glamour but she was hurting inside.
She had recently lost a baby, one she half-suspected JFK had wanted for political reasons babies always produced a lift in the popularity polls.
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She had also to endure an indignity far worse than the one presented by her husband's much-talked-about affair with Marilyn Monroe.
Another of his mistresses, Mary Pinchot-Meyer, the divorced wife of a former CIA chief and the sister of one of her closest friends in Washington, was someone Jackie actually knew socially. The humiliation was such that even as the press muttered that she wasn't exactly behaving like a woman who had just lost a baby, she didn't care.
She remembered that inwhen she had miscarried another child, JFK had refused to cut short a trip to Europe. For years, she had played the dutiful wife -- attending rubber-chicken dinners and breathing the foul cigar smoke -- but now she was going to have some fun. Onassis represented the father figure that Jackie had been seeking for much of her life, and she listened, rapt, to his lengthy anecdotes.
Her senior by 23 years, he was gregarious, mischievous and protective of her and her children. When she was back in the US, he bombarded her with letters and phone calls. To add a further strand to the complicated web of interlocking affairs, Onassis was still having a relationship with the opera singer Maria Callas but his largesse -- he was, by then, one of the wealthiest men in the world -- meant he had the means to woo both women at once.
Crossing swords with the Kennedys was also nothing new for the shipping tycoon -- he counted Gloria Swanson, who for years had been a mistress of Joe Kennedy, among his conquests.
Onassis despised Bobby Kennedy because he knew that if his wish to succeed his brother as president were ever fulfilled, the Greek magnate's ships would not be welcome in American ports.
The animosity was returned. To Bobby, Onassis was "a rogue on a grand scale". When Jackie returned to the US after the yacht trip he told her: It was Bobby who had arranged the burial of Jackie's baby inwhile John was away in Italy; and it was Bobby who comforted her through the grief.
While the other Kennedys regarded Jackie not unlike the way the Royal court would later regard Princess Diana -- as an irritatingly fragile and temperamental creature -- Bobby had been a staunch supporter.
He provided a buffer zone between her and her formidable mother-in-law, Rose Kennedy. There was a politically calculated component to their relationship, too, however; Bobby wanted to keep Jackie onside. The press sniped about her accepting the "unseemly" hospitality of a man who was viewed then much as Silvio Berlusconi is now -- a wealthy, politically shrewd huckster -- and it did the Kennedy image no good, something Bobby found disturbing.
At that point, he may have already had his eye on a presidential run. The American journalist Drew Pearson would later write: A month later, however, the event that shook the world would change the whole dynamic of the Jackie-Bobby-Onassis triangle. JFK was assassinated in Dallas, and grief and a desire to remain at home in the US pushed Jackie away from the Greek billionaire and toward her brother-in-law.
According to Heymann, the movement toward RFK happened instinctively and naturally. While Jackie, still in that famous blood-spattered suit, accompanied her husband's body on the plane, Bobby, stricken with his own grief, was the first to call her. When the presidential convoy finally arrived at the airport in Washington, she emerged from the plane behind the coffin and he was there to meet her.