Ever since his controversial best-seller The Kennedy Curse came out this summer, Edward Klein has been under fire for writing a tell-all about people who can no longer tell their side of the story (or sue, for that matter). The chronic chronicler of the Kennedys—this is his third book on the family—has always differentiated himself from other biographers of the clan by citing his friendship with Jackie Onassis.
In the August issue of Vanity Fair, which excerpted his book, he was described as “a longtime friend,” enraging several Kennedy friends and relatives. And now New York has obtained a previously unpublished letter Onassis demanded that her attorney, Alex Forger, send to Klein. The letter, dated March 22, 1994, two months before her death, firmly instructs Klein to leave her alone: “We would appreciate that when you contact people in connection with the preparation of your book that you will advise them that Mrs. Onassis is not authorizing your book, will not cooperate with the writing of the book and does not wish others to do so.”
A cease-and-desist letter hardly seems like correspondence between “longtime friends,” but Klein claims similar letters were sent to every author writing about Onassis. Forger denies it. Klein told New York that “it’s hard to say” how frequently he interacted with Onassis. “Six to ten phone calls a year,” he said hesitantly. After he wrote about Onassis and Maurice Tempelsman in 1989, “maybe four or five.”
But even a little conversation can go a long way. Sasha Howie, a lifelong friend of John Jr.’s, remembers his first impressions of Klein. “That man,” she recalls John saying, “will turn three lunches with my mother into a career.”