Jackie O. Would Be Perfect for Reality TV

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Jackie O.
Jackie O. Photo: Michael Stroud/Express/Getty Images

We're not talking about a show revolving around the everyday goings-on of the former First Lady, à la other allegedly interesting shows about the lives of sort of famous people like Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Gene Simmons Family Jewels. We mean if Jackie O. were just another unknown drama queen on the Real World or Jersey Shore or Real Housewives. These are shows built on catty backbiting, and according to a series of interviews recorded in 1964, which are being released for the first time this week in a new book, Jackie O. — God bless her graceful soul — was one expert backbiter. As the Times reports:


In her distinctive breathy cadences, an intimate tone and the impeccable diction of women of her era and class, she delivers tart commentary on former presidents, heads of state, her husband’s aides, powerful women, women reporters, even her mother-in-law.

Charles DeGaulle, the French president, is “that egomaniac.” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is “a phony” whom electronic eavesdropping has found arranging encounters with women. Indira Gandhi, the future prime minister of India, is “a real prune — bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.” ....

She suggests that “violently liberal women in politics” preferred Adlai Stevenson, the former Democratic presidential nominee, to Mr. Kennedy because they “were scared of sex.” Of Madame Nhu, the sister-in-law of the president of South Vietnam, and Clare Boothe Luce, a former member of Congress, she tells Mr. Schlesinger, in a stage whisper, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were lesbians.”

Presumably, there were some people she liked, too.

In Tapes, Candid Talk by Young Kennedy Widow [NYT]