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Authors: Edward Klein

Just Jackie

BOOK: Just Jackie

More praise for
Just Jackie

“Just when we thought nothing could shock us about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s well-publicized life, along comes
Just Jackie: Her Private Years
. Edward Kleins new biography of Jackie’s post-JFK years opens with a knockout punch.”

New York Daily News

“[Klein] ends up doing quite a job of rehabilitating the image of Jackie in those years that she married and divorced Aristotle Onassis, lived and worked in Manhattan, and raised her children…. Touching details of her tragic illness and untimely death.”

—Liz Smith
New York Post

“Klein pumps schoolgirl chums, Secret Service agents, and other intimates to get the dish on the superstar First Lady.”

Vanity Fair

“Just Jackie gives
us a legend, warts and all.”

Rocky Mountain News


These incidents are balanced with other vignettes that show an extraordinary woman battling back from a series of calamities that would have crushed a lesser person.”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“Each [chapter] reads like a quick click of a camera giving readers snapshots of Jackie. By the end Klein has written a succinct biography while engendering enormous feelings and emotions. There are so many memorable moments on these pages…. The real story is about survival against enormous odds and how at the end of her life Jackie found both peace and contentment, as well as a graceful acceptance of where she was, and where she had been.”

The Book Report

“Klein tracked down hundreds of sources in order to tell how the American icon raised her kids, found true love, and, ultimately, art-directed her own deathbed scene.”

Harper’s Bazaar

“Detail after detail about whom she loved and what she did with her days and, ultimately, how she found happiness.”

The Providence Journal

“Jackie probably had a greater impact on history than her husband. She provided Americans with an unforgettable performance as a national heroine at a time when it was desperately needed. And, somehow, she survived our adulation to become a person in her own right.”

Houston Chronicle

“Provide[s] intimate details about the president and first lady’s last night together and her reaction to seeing his body at Dallas’s Parkland Memorial Hospital.”

Wahsington Times

“[An] enlightening biography.”

—The Register-Herald

By Edward Klein

    (Coauthored with Richard Littell and Richard Chesnoff)

ALL TOO HUMAN: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy
JUST JACKIE: Her Private Years

Published by Ballantine Books

Books published by The Ballantine Publishing Group are available at quantity discounts on bulk purchases for premium, educational, fund-raising, and special sales use. For details, please call 1-800-733-3000.

To Michael Sacks


I first began writing about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis almost a decade ago, in a cover story that appeared in
Vanity Fair
in the fall of 1989. Over the years, many people have helped me separate the wheat of truth from the chaff of tabloid invention about Jackie. Such guidance proved to be even more important for this book, which is about the least documented—and most controversial—period of Jackie’s life, her private, post-White House years.

Of the several hundred people who agreed to speak on and off the record for this book, I owe a special note of appreciation to Stelio Papadimitriou, Niki Goulandris, John Carl Warnecke, John Loring, Jack Anderson, Les Whitten, Ralph Graves, Peter Beard, Michael Beschloss, and Robert Lindsey.

In addition, contributions were made by Elizabeth Folberth, Linda Puner, Alfred Fariello, Deborah Creighton, Molly Ginty, Justine Fontinell, Anita Goss, and Amy Steiner.

My research assistants and I were steered in the right direction by Eulalie Regan at the
Vineyard Gazette
, Claudia Anderson at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, and Jane Payne at the John F. Kennedy Library.

At Ballantine Books, I want to thank Judith Curr, who shared my vision from the outset, as well as Peter Borland, Ellen Archer, and Emily Grayson.

My agent Robert Gottlieb and his associate at the
William Morris Agency, Marcy Posner, provided wise counsel throughout the project.

My editors, Walter Anderson at
and Graydon Carter at
Vanity Fair
, were unstinting in their encouragement.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to my wife, Dolores Barrett. Her intelligence, insight, and loving kindness sustained me throughout the long months that it took to research and write this book.


Friday Evening, November 29, 1963


giant thunderbolt split open the night sky, and in the shuddering light a car emerged from a swirl of fog and raced on through the storm. Slumped in the backseat was the journalist Theodore White, a stubby little man in his late forties with thinning hair and an owlish expression. He took a slug from a plastic bottle that contained a decanted pint of Scotch whisky—his self-imposed allotment of alcohol for the long hours that lay ahead.

There was another huge flash of lightning, followed this time by a thumping crash of thunder. White peered out the window at the flooded stretch of highway. It was coming down in solid sheets of water, just the way it had rained a week ago on the night President Kennedy’s body was brought back from Dallas in a dark bronze coffin.

White had covered the assassination and the three-day pageant of Kennedy’s funeral for
magazine. He was still physically exhausted and emotionally drained from the experience. Now, however, he found himself in a rented limousine, with a strange chauffeur, driving at breakneck speed through an old-fashioned northeaster on his way to another assignment for

“There is something I want
magazine to say to the country,” the President’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, had told White during a brief phone conversation from her home on Cape Cod, “and you must do it.”

White did not know what Jackie had in mind, but he could guess why she had chosen him above all other
journalists to carry her message to the American people. He was the author of
The Making of the President 1960
, a book that had caught the mood and the strains of the election campaign, and that helped give birth to the myth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Jackie had selected White because he was a storyteller with a talent for hero worship.

The limousine slowed down as it approached the summer resort town of Hyannis on Nantucket Sound. The board of selectmen of Barnstable Township had decked the façade of the town hall with black crepe in memory of the dead President, but the merchants had strung up colored Christmas lights along Main Street in an effort to dispel the gloom. White tossed down another stiff slug of Scotch and instructed the chauffeur to stop at a gas station. He got out, ducked into a telephone booth, and placed a call to New York City.

“How’s my mother doing?” he asked.

The thunder and pelting rain drowned out the reply.

“What? “
White shouted. “I can’t hear you.”

“She’s doing as well as can be expected,” Dr. Harold Rifkin, his family physician, yelled back into the phone.

White’s mother was gravely ill. It was she who had answered the telephone at her son’s East Side town house in Manhattan when Jackie called from the Cape, and in all the excitement, the old woman began having a heart attack. White was forced to make a hard decision: stay with his mother, or answer Jackie’s call.

On the phone, Jackie had not spoken to White in her tiny, whispery voice. She had used her other voice, the one rarely heard by strangers, the deep, expressive vibrato that she employed when she refused to take no for an answer. You must do it, she had told White, and he felt compelled to heed her summons. He chose Jackie over his mother, and drove off into the raging storm.

He was afflicted by pangs of guilt as his car pulled up to a checkpoint in front of the Kennedy compound in Hyannis
Port. It was not quite eight-thirty on Friday, November 29, 1963. The presidential flag, illuminated by floodlights and tugged by the wind, was flying in the front yard of John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s rented summer house on nearby Squaw Island.

The place was crawling with Secret Service men. No one knew if the assassination had been part of a larger conspiracy, or whether a plot existed to murder Jackie and her young children, too. Two agents, dressed in water-stained trench coats and dripping fedoras, shone flashlights into White’s face, then waved him through an opening in the barricade.

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