Carolyn Bessette made JFK Jr. wait 3 weeks before she accepted his proposal

JFK Bessette

I’ve gotten to the age where I literally have to tell the whippersnapper grocery store check-out boy who John F. Kennedy Jr. was. The story is this: I saw People Magazine’s cover a few days ago, and I thought “do we really need another magazine hagiography of the life of some tragic Kennedy?” But then when I was in the grocery store on Thursday, I totally picked up People and was like, “Okay, I want to read the story.” The checkout boy didn’t recognize the people on the cover. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? We are OLD.

Anyway, I guess People Mag was having a slow week, because there’s nothing really new in the cover story, at least not for someone like me who actually remembers the 1990s. It’s also tragic and partly amusing to realize… oh, right, there are so many women in this world who are still trying to be Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Gwyneth Paltrow has spent decades trying to be Bessette. Amal Clooney is currently trying to be Bessette. I suspect a good percentage of the well-heeled WASP women of New York and Connecticut are trying to be Bessette right now. They dress like her, get her shade of blonde and try to give off an air of studied detachment. So, what’s new in this cover story? Some highlights:

Carolyn didn’t agree to marry JFK Jr. right away: “She held the proposal off for about three weeks, which I think just made him all the more intent on marrying her,” a close friend of John’s tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.

Carolyn was not cookie-cutter: “If someone was going to steal our prince, the press and the public wanted her to be some kind of unblemished princess,” says John’s friend, John Perry Barlow. But Carolyn was not one to be easily defined. “She was quirky and imaginative. She was her own self. The woman everyone has read about it not at all as she was in real life.”

Carole Radziwill on whether their marriage was struggling in the final days: “To say their marriage was on the rocks is just inaccurate,” says Carole, who told the story of John and Anthony’s close bond in her heartbreaking memoir What Remains. “Anthony’s impending death was a strain on their marriage, no doubt. But it was a difficult time for all of us. If it weren’t, we would be inhuman.”

Carolyn decided to come with John for his cousin’s wedding: “Carolyn decided to be with his family that weekend in the Cape—to be together,” says a John confidante. “And she would be with him in a safe and private place. That’s what family means. And that meant something. Had he not crashed the plane, it would have been a meaningless few weeks of tension but it took on a life of its own because it was the last chapter of their life. One week they could have been at war, and the the next week they could be right back in love—we’ll never know.”

John wanted Princess Diana to appear on the cover of his magazine, George: RoseMarie Terenzio, John’s executive assistant and a close friend, says that the meeting took place in Diana’s suite at the Carlyle Hotel and lasted about 90 minutes. “He wanted to do a respectful piece,” Terenzio recalls. But it was not to be. Says Terenzio: “She wrote John a note that said, ‘Thank you so much, but not right now.’” Afterward, he told his George colleagues about their meeting. “He was very careful what he said. The one funny thing he said was, ‘She’s got a great pair of legs.’” Looking back, Terenzio says, “I do remember him saying, ‘She’s really tall!’ He also said she was very shy. He was surprised how demure she was. I think they had both met Mother Theresa so they spoke about that. And he said how lovely she was.”

[From People Magazine]

I find this interesting: “If someone was going to steal our prince, the press and the public wanted her to be some kind of unblemished princess.” Was that really the case? I remember the big thing was that Jackie Kennedy disapproved of many of John’s previous actress girlfriends, like Daryl Hannah and Sarah Jessica Parker. Jackie didn’t want John to go with an actress, or someone she thought of flighty. Carolyn was a breath of fresh hair because she seemed more aristocratic and well-heeled, educated and professional. She was also incredibly stylish right off the bat, which made all of New York society adore her. But I agree with this: “She was quirky and imaginative. She was her own self.” I think that’s what was great – she had been living and working in New York for years, she was a grown-up and didn’t want her life to become tabloid fodder. Ugh. The whole thing is so sad.

Cover courtesy of People, additional photos courtesy of WENN & Getty.

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212 Responses to “Carolyn Bessette made JFK Jr. wait 3 weeks before she accepted his proposal”

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  1. LAK says:

    Her style is still amazing. And timeless.

    So many celebs cosplay her. Especially GOOP, but she’s a good style star to emulate if one needs fashion inspiration. So simple and so elegant.

    At the time of their wedding, there was a story made the rounds that she employed ‘the rules’ on him and that’s how she got him.

    The rules……lol. good times.

    • hmmm says:

      All I remember is her wedding dress framed by the plain church. If she weren’t who she was I would have thought she was a bride on “Say Yes to the Dress”. She looked good no doubt but I don’t ever remember her being touted as a style icon. I guess she was the equivalent of a Sloane Ranger in style. Perhaps I need more educating.

      • LAK says:

        Her wedding dress is the single reason wedding styles changed from frou frou 80s meringue to sleek, pared down, form fitting dresses.

        Then there is the way we all flat ironed our hair. Long straight hair with a centre part. The Friends ladies are a good example of that copycat trendy–medium-ash-brown-hair-dark-ash-brown-hair.jpg

        GOOP is still styling her hair the same way. Though this picture from 1998 shows the style at it’s height.

        CBK’s look was influential because of it’s pared down simplicity. Easy to forget the all the frou, frou excess of the 80s / early 90s supermodels, Versace excess direction that fashion had taken.

        Wedding aside, she never looked better than when she was formally introduced to the press.

      • Jerusha says:

        Hair ironing started in the 60s. CBK and now GP just copied the long straight center parts from then.

      • perplexed says:

        The press wanted her to be a style icon. Whether she wanted to be, I’m not sure (she was so private).

        But she definitely was some kind of icon when it came to fashion. She probably didn’t live long enough to get used to or embrace the role.

        I think a lot of women have tried to copy her style, but somehow they don’t pull it off with the same je-ne-sais-quoi. She could make a simple polo shirt look good.

      • LAK says:

        Jerushka: Fashion is cyclical. Every single fashion can be traced back to ye old times. Each revival is popularised by someone famous even if they weren’t the first person in each era to wear that particular style. In CBK’s era, her flat ironed, centre parted long hair inspired a revival of the style after the early 90s love of ‘ the Rachel’ and before that the 80s Texas big hair etc etc and so forth.

      • Jerusha says:

        OK, sure. I don’t quite put as much store in her influence as you do. But, whatever. I did like the black top, camel skirt, though.

      • Yvonne says:

        The thing is, she’s dead already. Leave her alone. Sheesh!

      • L84Tea says:

        @LAK, that day she was introduced to the press…That outfit. That was the exact moment I realized brown and black could be worn together if it was done right. And CBK did things right.

      • Alex says:

        She was cleaned face natural beauty. She was lovely, all I can say, but I do remember being at home broken hearted for a boyfriend 17 years ago, and just shocked thinking of the Kennedy curse. By the way I looked for that boyfriend 17 years later after my divorce, moved in with him within 5 months and moved out 7 months later. The past it is always nice to remember; but never go back to it and try to stay there.

      • Kitten says:

        I’m with LAK. I remember Bissette being an enormous style icon. I also distinctly remember gazing at a set of pics of her and JFK Jr frolicking in Central Park in the fall and wanting to BE her.

        She really had awesome style that was very different at the time, although now would likely be referred to as “classic”.

        Anyway, I couldn’t find the exact pics I was looking for but here are some of my faves:

        I don’t know.. maybe it depends on your age but for me and most people at that time, CB and JFK Jr represented the epitome of New York chic: always looked so effortlessly stylish yet perfectly put-together.


      • EOA says:

        This idea that she was incredibly important style icon who singlehandedly changed trends is… a bit overstated, to say the least.

      • Sarah says:

        I think she had a very classic style, but never found her beautiful. She had very strong features, irregular features, but was striking in an odd way. I think it was her self-assurance.

      • RoyalSparkle says:

        She is like Di, forever young; and Carolyn is was hardly known except she worjed with a designer.

      • Ain'tNoTelling says:

        @LAK, I’m not sure about anyone else, but I had already been “styling” myself almost identically to CBK for years, previously to even knowing that she existed. And let me add, so we’re plenty of other women in Manhattan.

        Perhaps she copied “us”.

      • JackieJormpJomp says:

        I believe you, but for many of us, far away from Manhattan, and in the pre-internet days, she was our first big glimpse of that Manhattan style… WE’d never seen it before and it was an eye-opener!

      • The Saint says:

        @ hmmm

        I think you are right.
        She was a sloane style follower but her features were more dramatic and that is why she pulled it off a lot better than those Middleton-copy-cat-Sloane-ys. She was blonde and had barely-there eyebrows and that worked well on her face because it made her look both more vulnerable and both more dramatic in a the way of the pre-raphaelites.

        Her detached air and body language – there were rumours about drug abuse. ?? I don’t really know if they were true but it might be an explanation.

      • Lionors says:

        I think of her as “striking.” Perhaps not a classic beauty, whatever that means to you, but she knew how to style herself.

    • Jegede says:

      @LAK –
      Didn’t Chloe Sevigny call out GOOP as a wannabe CBK in an interview?

    • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

      I agree. That Narciso Rodriguez dress changed the game.

    • Nancy says:

      This reminds me of the iconic Rolling Stone cover of Jim Morrison: He’s Hot, He’s Sexy, He’s Dead. The story of that fateful flight was told over and over when it happened. All of her exes lives were exposed, her drug use, her personality was torn apart, piece by piece. Let her family go on, her sister that died with her left a surviving twin. Historians will chronicle the Kennedy legacy which is fine. But these People, Us, National Inquirer, etc. stories just open wounds. Poor John John, that gorgeous man never had a chance.

      • Bella bella says:

        As a friend of the family, I can tell you that they never called him John John. They hated that.

    • KiddVicious says:

      Her look was very Calvin Klein and VERY common at the time, she just did it better than most.

      I remember seeing the iconic wedding photo and being disappointed that he married her. I REALLY wanted him to marry Princess Diana. LOL

      • WhatAmIGonnaDoWithAGunRack says:

        It’s crazy to think he and Diana were the same age…she looked so much more old fashioned than he and Carolyn Bessette…

        Its that frozen-wig hairdo, Im thinking…

      • Fleur says:

        I agree with KiddVicious. Her look was very Calvin Klein, and common/popular when Carolyn rose to fame—those solid color dresses with sleek lines, that no-makeup-makeup, hair that was yet effortlessly pretty, beautifully colored, really healthy, but less “styled” . I would say Carolyn was not a harbinger of that look, but she was a representative of it in fashion mags during that look’s peak. I was a tween, and this was pre blogs, so our pop culture came from TV and magazines. The pictures of her wedding to JFK Jr were a HUGE deal, partly because HE was a huge deal, but not in a fame-whorey way. It’s really hard to explain nowadays because the media world was so different. There were fewer big media stars, and so the ones that were talked about seemed larger than life (Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Princess Diana, etc). JFK really was seen as America’s Most Eligible Bachelor, I’m not kidding, and he was rarely in front of a camera which made him seem all the more elusive. The only equivalent figure I can think of now is Prince Harry. it was such different time culturally, pre internet. It’s hard to explain if you weren’t old enough to remember it.

    • Lahdidahbaby says:

      Yes, LAK, “timeless” is the perfect word for her style. I still think of that photo of her and John each time I wear my (now 20+ years old!) tan suede skirt with a black sweater, a combo I paired after seeing that pic. To me she will always be the true meaning of the term “style icon” precisely because her sense of style was so timeless and seemed so effortless. She just had “the Look” and everyone else wanted it.

  2. Jegede says:

    “She seemed more aristocratic and well-heeled, educated and professional.”

    “Seemed” is the correct word.
    Because apparently the real Carolyn was anything but.

    Her mother remarried an affluent man yes, but John’s friend, Billy Noonan, wrote how Carolyn reminded them that she always had summer jobs to pay her way, partied very hard and dated well. She was no silver spoon kid, with a trust fund in the works.
    Apparently, Carolyn’s position at CK was sinecure, primarily because she knew how to network. She was also tough as bandit and swore like a sailor. John couldn’t tell her what to do. I think that was a primary attraction for him.

    I don’t think she and Jackie would have gotten along and it was not a coincidence that John did not introduce them. It was Daryl that went to visit a dying Jackie at her 1040 apartment. Jackie controlled John and after that infamous park fight video, she would have called time on that relationship with a quickness.

    • MinnFinn says:

      I agree that Jackie would not have approved of Carolyn. Jackie was a snob. Media upgrades her upbringing but Carolyn was middle class.

      • Jegede says:

        Jackie WAS a snob. So is her sister Lee.
        Miss Porter girls are all hoi-polloi. :))

        Daryl Hannah came from an affluent background and Jackie was even iffy with her.

        She adored John’s girlfriend Sally Munro, who was a blue blood East Coast liberal from an esteemed family.

        She also greenlit Caroline’s first fiancee Tom Carney. He came from a family of Nobel Prize Winners and who were on the social register.

        Carolyn’s family were middle class and Bessette herself wasn’t from that Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Seven Sisters/rowing club stock either.

        Plus the fact that John’s sister, Caroline, did not get on with John’s wife, Carolyn, confirms for me that there was a reason John did not introduce them. Caroline and Jackie had the same thought process & distant manner. They were also both she-wolves over John.

        @Keiza & @STRIPE – LOL. You’re welcome!

    • Kezia says:

      I though sinecure was a typo for secure, but I decided I’d look it up as it’s rare for me to find a word I’ve never heard before and lo and behold it is a word! Thanks for teaching me something new today.

      • STRIPE says:

        Haha same!

      • Fleur says:

        haha, also SAME! I can’t remember the last time I ran into a word I didn’t know the meaning of, anywhere. I had no idea what sinecure meant and had to look it up. LOVE learning a new word!

    • Natalie S says:

      She worked at Caldor’s! Does anyone else remember Caldor’s?

    • Amide says:

      Agreed. And if Michael Bergin is to be believed, Carolyn was more like Courtney Love, than Christy Turlington. No matter how pared down, her invariable black & white outfits.😉
      Wasn’t John staying at the Stanhope hotel before the fateful flight?
      Those two would probably have been divorced by now.😩

      • L84Tea says:

        Yeah, I hate to say it, but I agree. They definitely would have been divorced by now.

      • elle says:

        His book on the subject was fascinating (and believable, IMO).

      • Aren says:

        It’s not just him who said Carolyn was a violent person and a drug addict.
        I don’t know why people are so fascinated by her.

      • tmbg says:

        Not the Bergin crap again. There is a book called American Legacy that is full of information about John, his sister and Carolyn. In there is a whole section proving that Bergin was lying when he claimed Carolyn flew out to be with him in California and cheated on John. She logistically couldn’t have been there.

        As for the Klein book and the rumors of cocaine use, I’ll stick with the books written by people who actually knew her. I’m so sick of that man’s crappy book sullying her memory. Carole, RoseMarie Terenzio, John Perry Barlow – they were all close to her and said she did not have a coke addiction. Maybe dabbled in it during her fashion days at CK, but not an addiction.

        Excuse the rant. I hate seeing her name dragged through the mud. Think of her poor mom. Plus most of this gossip is just unfounded rumors. They were having problems at the end of their marriage and maybe would have divorced, but there were a lot of external stressors they were dealing with at that point.

      • perplexed says:

        Even in the oversized sweater and sweatpants where she fights with JFK Jr., she looked cool.

        Michael Bergin looks like a skeeze, so I was kind of wary of believing anything he had to say.

    • Talie says:

      Carole Radziwill wrote in her book that Lee Radziwill loved Carolyn because she knew how to gossip. Haha

    • Barbs441 says:

      You guys should read Come to the Edge By Christina Haag. She dated John Jr for a few years, they meet in Brown and had the same group of friends in New york and she talks about Jackie and Caroline. I loved it, it was beautifully written and a true love story. BTW I’m 25 and have known about Carolyn and John Jr for years, I am fascinated by her.

    • Mumbles says:

      Indeed, during that infamous fight I think CB yelled at John, you had to wait until your mother died before you went public with me. Or something like that. I think she knew Jackie O wouldn’t have liked her.

      When she died, a person who went to BU with her wrote a tribute to her. She was stylish but shopped at Filene’s Basement when she was a student – she just made it work. If she saw beautiful shoes in a size too big, she would put in insoles; if too small, she would stretch them out. She was far from a trust fund baby or socialite. And her sisters were very academically smart go-getters.

      And gosh was she beautiful. She could walk down the street in jeans and a turtleneck and look like a goddess.

      • Taxi says:

        I never thought she was “beautiful.” When they were in San Francisco, she wore her standard jeans, T-shirt & parka most of the time & looked like s***. Lank hair, no make up, very pale & washed-out and not unhealthy looking. By contrast, John glowed with a unmistakeable magnetism every time I ever saw him. He was always very polite & modest and kind. Most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. No photos do him justice. CBK, in contrast, was often sullen & pouty. She cleaned up well when she was in the mood but over a period of about 2 years I saw him alone 4 times (business settings) and them together in casual social settings another 5 or 6 times. He doted on his wife & catered to her while she didn’t even try to be pleasant & certainly showed no style.

    • Magnoliarose says:

      That is right. A lot about her has been forgotten or embellished to a degree. She was a hardcore party girl and he was a low key type. She wasn’t cuddly or the kind of person anyone would call sweet. Everyone who met him said he was friendly and she even said he was nicer than she was.
      When people call her upper crust it is because they don’t understand lower New England’s social structure. Upper middle class Wasps copy the upperclass Wasps. Neither are ostentatious or flamboyant so it is easy to mistake one for the other. Often they even mix in the same circles. Sometimes they go to the same private schools and wear similar clothing. They don’t advertise their wealth and you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart unless you knew what to look for. You will see a family from wealth with a well known surname in a 20 year old Volvo next to an accountant in a new Mercedes. The inner workings are underneath the surface.
      Martha Stewart made an empire selling this aesthetic to the public.

      • Jamestown says:

        That reminds me of American Psycho where they all have the same looking business card but they know exactly the minute differences in font and color, and the dude is totally neurotic about it! Lol.

      • hmmm says:

        I adore your comment, @Jamestown.

      • still_sarah says:

        @ magnoliarose. Your comment about old Volvos reminded me of a comment from a wealthy customer (very old money) at a bank where I worked in late ’80’s (putting myself through law school). I mentioned that another customer (young, very new money) told the tellers that her toddler only wore clothes that came from France. Mrs. very old money laughed at this and said that in Palm Springs, the really rich people wore faded blue jeans and drove old Volvos. She meant that if you are old money, you don’t (need to) show it off.

  3. Eric says:

    I like to ask the younger readers of CB what they think the 90s meant. Just curious.

    I mean sure, there was the dress stain, Kurt Cobain blowing his own face off, and Tupac lying in the streets of LV (the legendary moments of the 90s).

    I remember them fondly. It was an exploratory decade with fantastic music, movies, and decent television. MTV still ran music videos ffs.

    • GingerCrunch says:

      Oh Eric….
      A little delicacy for those of us who have survived the suicide of a loved one, perhaps?

    • ORIGINAL T.C. says:

      I know about all the above you mentioned but I know next to nothing about Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. I have been told that she was this style icon but for the life of me I can’t find any pictures of her amazing styles. She looks plain and doesn’t come across as an exceptional charismatic person. I personally don’t know anyone that could pick her out in a lineup.

      Whereas Jackie Kennedy’s style and beauty is known all over the world. Maybe it was an exclusive NYC thing?

      • Alix says:

        I was never a fan of the over-tweezed brows and peroxide (she was very pretty as a fully browed brunette), but she wore clothes with simplicity, grace, and, I guess, a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. Certainly more stylish than, say, Alexa Chung — still have no clue why that woman’s famous for anything.

        Bessette-Kennedy, unlike her would-be successors, wasn’t a fame whore. She hated the limelight and wasn’t the least bit impressed by fame/fortune, even though she’d married into both. Love the fact that she made him wait three weeks!

        Why on earth did JFK Jr. think that the freakin’ Princess of Wales would appear on the cover of a mag devoted to American politics?

        Remember their fatal accident SO vividly. All over the news. So, so creepy in every detail and so maddening that Jr. had bitten off far more than he could chew, aviation-wise. Much anger/controversy that Uncle Ted was able to arrange an immediate burial at sea for all three victims, while most families asking for the same privilege wait years, and many times do not get their requests granted.

      • LAK says:

        Her style changed fashion from flashy versace style fashion to pared down simplicity. There is not a single picture of her where you can’t copy the look and look just as–jfk-jr-kennedy-jr.jpg×450/a7e28e8e17628d3da4dc028e4e8783cc/k/a/kate_middleton_white_long_sleeve_gown_with_a_thigh_high_slit_1.jpg

        To modern eyes, it doesn’t look like much, but it was a very influential look back then, and it is still influencing our wardrobes.

      • Christin says:

        Just as LAK points out, you’d have to understand the over the top hair and clothing trends of the previous 15 years to notice how timeless her choices were. Neon colors, very short-lived clothing trends and permed/over-teased were commonplace.

        Clean lines, neutrals and understanding wardrobe staples/looks that stand the test of time were not mainstream until Carolyn’s brief era in the spotlight.

      • mee says:

        I think of her style as classic and elegant with a bohemian edge sometimes. Maybe because i was in my 20s during much of that period but i think her style was great, even by today’s standards. I don’t think much of fashion today but I guess I’m outdated. Ha maybe I’m one of those olds stuck in that era of their youth.

      • Cerys says:

        I have to agree. I thought her very plain and by no means stylish. I remember thinking at the time that John could have done better but that was huge jealousy on my part.

        Regardless, their untimely deaths were a tragedy and it would have been interesting to see if John had got involved with politics had he lived.

      • WTW says:

        @Original T.C. I think you view her style as plain because she had a minimalist aesthetic. I don’t think she should be credited with starting this look, as minimalism came from the art world, and in the ’90s, people began to pare down their style with slip dresses and the like before she became famous. I actually think grunge played a role in the minimalist revival, especially if you look at Courtney Love’s early 90s style. Sofia Coppola and Winona Ryder were also rocking the minimalist look then. I also really enjoy Hope Sandoval’s 90s style, which I wouldn’t describe as minimalist, but had a unique flair. The 90s were definitely influenced by the 60s and 70s, so the sleek hair was a natural retro look.

      • Magnoliarose says:

        She didn’t create it. But she was splashed all over the media at a time when that style was not well known outside of fashion New York. The blonde she was doing was the hot color before she wore it but it was again inside fashion stuff.
        I was a teenager so she seemed mature to me but she never looked trashy or like any of the K clan. She looked like a chic New Yorker. In all honesty women who worked for fashion magazines or worked for Bergdorfs or Barneys or with a luxury designer looked like that then too. Getting a lunch time blow out was common for a certain set and stylists that were good at it were gold.
        One thing that stands out is that her style holds up and that is an accomplishment. Can’t say my early 2000s will stand the test of time. I cringe already.

      • perplexed says:

        Yeah, why is Alexa Chung considered stylish?

      • gatitos says:

        Yeah, as everyone has said, it wasn’t her who started this change to a more minimalist aesthetic. It was a combination of things, coming on the one hand, from the world of art, and on the other, from the music world. Remember that grunge rejected all that late 80s flashy/Versace/big shoulders-big hair style, going instead for straight (even stringy and a little dirty) hair parted in the middle, slip dresses, bootcut jeans and Doc Martens. It also favored more muted colors (black, brown, olive, mustard…) and monochromatic palettes.
        I guess Carolyn Bessette was the most mainstream example of that change in style, that is, she made it palatable to the American upper/upper middle class. To me, though, she was just the 90s equivalent of a basic gringa.

    • Asiyah says:

      *sigh* I can’t begin to put into words what the 90s meant to me. My childhood wasn’t the greatest and I got depressed at 12 (1996) so I won’t paint the 90s with rose-colored glasses, especially since, while there was great music, there was also a lot of crappy music lol. But I miss the 90s. MTV was at its height. VH1 was playing music! What a time.

    • Cee says:

      I was a kid in the 90s (I’m an 87 baby) and all I remember is DISNEY and Barbies and PollyPockets and weird clothes. No idea why the Kennedy offspring is so famous. JFK was a President, not a King.

      • L84Tea says:

        But the Kennedys, specifically JFK and Jackie, were the closest thing to royalty this country ever had. True, they were just people, but everybody loved them. My mom was in high school in the early 60’s and told me about the way people back then had them on a pedestal.

      • KiddVicious says:

        The photo of JFK Jr. saluting his dad at his funeral as a toddler made him America’s son. All of America became protective of him and wanted nothing but good things from him, albeit a bit obsessively. And being so good looking didn’t hurt.

      • KB says:

        Also an 87 baby, but I’ve always considered the Kennedy’s American royalty. I just remember the news coverage from helicopters when they pulled the plane wreckage out of the water. So heartbreaking.

      • CynicalAnn says:

        I’m a child of the 70s, and my parents are Catholic Democrats-the Kennedys were heroes in my childhood. It’s hard to picture now with all of the scandals in their extended family that have come out-the name is tarnished. That didn’t used to be the case.

  4. lightpurple says:

    Princess Nagini would kill to be like Carolyn Bessette. But sorry, honey, there was no plastic involved there.

    I met him when I was a kid. A breathtakingly, stunning man.

    • Mermaid says:

      And Nagini never ever in a million years will get there. The faux Jackie whisper is especially annoying. I’m a 90s teen and CBK was the ultimate cool chick. Has anyone here read Four Blondes by Candace Bushnell? One of the blondes I swear has to be based on CBK. It’s a great beach read!!!

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        YES! The Four Blondes character, I agree!

      • Magnoliarose says:

        Yep. I know the one you mean. Her characters were based on real people. The model was Nikki Taylor. The places and haunts were real.

    • What Was That? says:

      Sorry for my ignorance..but who is Princess Nagini?
      The only Nagini I know is the snake friend of Voldemort in Harry Potter!

    • holly hobby says:

      Lucky you to have met JFK Jr in person. I found him so handsome and he was nice to boot. I do remember the day they died. The news kept flashing pictures of the ocean. It was very sad and I can’t imagine the potential of JR. had he lived.

  5. Louise says:

    You are so right – Gwyneth has been trying for years. I remember them getting married. I guess we ARE old. She was so stylish (now I am thinking about Kate’s crappy outfit only just yesterday and how she manages to get it wrong every time).

  6. JackieJormpJomp says:

    I’m still inspired by her style. And I feel bad for the trashing and wild speculation she got in the press.
    I’m a 90’s teen. I love CBK.

    • GingerCrunch says:

      Same with the style envy. And still sad for what her parents must have suffered. Unimaginable.

      • Zondie says:

        I feel bad for her parents as well. Didn’t her sister accompany them on that plane? So they lost both daughters?

      • Lightpurple says:

        Yes, and her sister was very late getting to the airport. Had they left when planned, they may have reached the Cape before the fog closed in

      • kibbles says:

        I read years ago (it’s been a while so the allegations written aren’t clear cut to me) that CBK and JFK Jr. had an argument a day or so before the flight. It was CBK who was late to the airport, not her sister. CBK was late because she was getting her nails done. By the time she got to the airport, it was dark and visibility was poor, undoubtedly a major factor that caused the plane to crash. I don’t want to place all the blame on the two women. JFK Jr. also played a role in the crash. He was piloting and he should have made the determination that the weather was too bad and everyone would have been better off waiting till morning to depart. Even a very experienced professional pilot can have challenges in poor weather. Very sad and probably terrifying for all on board. I also read that the two sisters were found huddled together in the back of the plane.

  7. Marion C. says:

    I met him a few months before they died, spoke at a friends college graduation and since she was on the speaker committee I got to attend the reception. He was low key, flew himself there with an instructor/friend, no bodyguard or entourage. Was friendly, engaging and good lord he had charisma. Also a surprisingly good speaker. Carl Bernstein was the other graduation speaker and JFK, Jr. was much better of the two.

  8. hmmm says:

    “If someone was going to steal our prince, the press and the public wanted her to be some kind of unblemished princess.”

    No. Not the variegated public, just the press wanting to sell the usual fantasy.

    • Jag says:

      Exactly. I truly didn’t care whether they were together or not. Couldn’t have cared less about her style or her upbringing. It is sad that they died, though.

  9. Lily Randall says:

    I know that it was years ago but wasn’t there substantial drug abuse going on with Caroline? I don’t like the continuing whitewashing of individuals after their deaths. We are all human , even the most stylish of us.

    • Olenna says:

      Yes, I read the rumors about drug use, too. And, it was also rumored that she was emotionally unstable and borderline abusive to John. We’ll never know.

    • L84Tea says:

      I’ve read about the speculation, but seeing as how we never knew for sure, I prefer not to condemn her when she’s not around to defend it.

    • Adele Dazeem says:

      Well as with most “complicated relationships,” there were gray areas and while none of us were in their heads, I could see the complications.

      She was a private, shy somewhat insecure person based on what I’ve read. He was by all accounts an exhibitionist and was very accustomed to the fame and attention and often courted it. This was the only life he ever knew and it was new to her.

      Imagine leaving your house to have paparazzi shouting mean things at you to rile you up and having to just ignore it? I specifically remember reading a story about them being on their honeymoon and at a table next to them in a restaurant they heard people talking about how ‘ugly she was’ and ‘how much better he could do.’

      While I don’t equate her experience with that of a war survivor or torture victim, I don’t think being married to “America’s prince” was as easy as it appears.

    • Sarah says:

      I was worried who got their poor dog after they both died. They walked him together a lot.

      • Christin says:

        I worried about the dog, too. He went to live with a longtime employee/friend of John’s in another country, IIRC.

        John adopted pound pups long before it became popular, and that made me like him even more.

  10. Incognita says:

    Jackie made JFK wait when he proposed to her.

    She actually went on a trip to Europe after he proposed and sent him a telegram back from overseas that she was still thinking about it.

    He showed up at the airport to greet her upon her return.

    (Jackie also was reportedly not a fan of her engagement ring and rarely wore it before JFK’s death. Carolyn didn’t like the Jackie-esque band JFK Jr. gave her either.)

  11. Mermaid says:

    I was on the Cape the night the plane went down. The fog was so dense you couldn’t even see the boats moored off the beach. The rest of the week all anyone talked about was where is the plane, how could this be happening, etc. And then the found it and we were all so depressed. I said yesterday I’m still not over their deaths and Princess Diana. Caroline’s son Jack looks a lot like JFK Jr.

    • lightpurple says:

      One of my cousins was on the dive team.

      • bcgirl says:

        Oh, wow.

        I always wondered this-
        His Saratoga had a black box installed in it by its former owner. They claimed it was not recovered with the wreckage. I really wonder.

      • notasugarhere says:

        bcgirl did you see the Air Disasters episode about the crash? It was about his pilot training, the accident investigation, and what might have taken place. Check Smithsonian Channel for rerun.

    • Katenotkatie says:

      I have very vivid memories of Diana’s death and the plane crash – I was a young kid in the late 90s but my mom was very affected by both. We always had the news on and I remember the wall-to-wall coverage after both events.

      • kibbles says:

        There are some events and celebrity deaths that stay with you and you can vividly remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. For young adults of the 90s and early 2000s era, those events were the deaths of CBK and JFK Jr., the death of Princess Diana, and 9/11. There are other events if you ask me I probably cannot remember what I was doing at that exact moment, but those three events will bring back to me exactly the place and what I was doing. I guess it is the same for older people who were alive when JFK was assassinated.

      • Christin says:

        I can also remember the shuttle disaster and Elvis (I was a kid but can remember the exact first words of our local newscaster when it was announced).

        For John, I remember summertime photos of him hobbling around (he’d had an ultralight accident a few weeks prior). When the crash was announced, I thought about how he was already physically impaired due to that injury. For Diana, I remember those summer photos of her and Dodi enjoying yacht trips. Both had such sudden, too young endings to their lives.

      • KB says:

        I was 10 when Diana died, but all I really remember is how devastated my mom was. I remember the JFK Jr coverage like it was yesterday though, same for 9/11 because we watched the 2nd plane hit live.

    • Bella bella says:

      I think Jack is the spitting image of Ed Schlossberg, just with dark hair.

  12. What Was That? says:

    This whole thing makes me feel so sad..and yes your Emporer has made that word difficult!
    I was just thinking about JFK junior the other day..young death no matter who makes you so sad for the loss of potential they had…

  13. spidey says:

    If you have to make someone wait weeks before saying yes, perhaps the right answer would be no. If in doubt, don’t.

    • Alix says:

      My guess is, in both cases, the women wanted to make sure the MEN were sure what they wanted.

      • Deedee says:

        These weren’t ordinary people, either. Nobody married into this family without committing to their ambitions, and with it, the pubic spotlight.

    • Jessica says:

      Agreed. That struck me as odd. Don’t you figure that out long before the proposal? I’m also middle class and not fancy.

    • perplexed says:

      Maybe she was trying to figure out if she wanted to deal with the paparazzi and the scrutiny, and whether love was strong enough to trump those annoyances.

      • LAK says:

        Their marital home was so besieged by the paps and newscrews that she rarely left the building in her first year of marriage. I felt so bad for her yet couldn’t stop reading and buying every magazine that had her latest picture.

        I thought that in her final year, she had started to get to grips with the intense attention and had started to live a more regular life.

  14. L84Tea says:

    She was the epitome of the word “chic”. Jackie herself might as well have hand picked her for her son. She was intelligent, independent, naturally stylish, and not attention seeking. A true class act. I still get so sad when I think about how it ended for them in that plane.

    • Goats on the Roof says:

      No way Jacqueline would have picked CBK. As others have said, she was incredibly snobby and disapproving.

      • L84Tea says:

        You guys have got me there. I guess I underestimated Jackie’s snobbishness. I always imagined she would have loved her due to her being hard working and independent and not attention-seeking and all that. But I guess even a middle-class girl with all those qualities sometimes still isn’t good enough for some. I stand corrected.

      • Bella bella says:

        I knew Jackie. She was not like you read about. She was not a snob.

    • Magnoliarose says:

      Not in a million years. She may have even referred to her as a shopgirl.

    • Bridget says:

      Jackie Kennedy was kind of a dick.

      • CorruptLobbyist says:


      • KiddVicious says:

        LOL! Exactly!

      • Natalie S says:

        Succinct and true!

      • Bella bella says:

        So not true. It makes me sad to read this. People make assumptions without knowing someone personally. Jackie was a phenomenal person. Funny and smart and very down-to-earth. She loved creative people and a good laugh. In publishing she gave a number of writers and artists their first break in publishing their first books. She took chances on people based on the quality of their work.

      • Natalie S says:

        @Bellabella, Jackie was an educated, cultured person who helped preserve some of our nation’s history and was a great supporter of literature and the arts. She was also vain, snobbish and greedy when it came to money. She had good and bad qualities.

      • Bella bella says:

        @Natalie S, I worked for her for 2 years. She never struck me as vain or snobbish. I can’t say how she was about money, as we were in a work environment. But she was generous with things like rare books. She was very open to all kinds of people. That was a great characteristic about her and often surprised people, I think, when she expressed curiosity about their lives. I went with her to public places — restaurants or book parties or the theater. It was very strange to feel the sea part and a hush fall over the people around us. She had to live with an extreme focus on whoever or whatever was in front of her. It was a laser-like intensity but also meant no peripheral vision. Maybe people perceived that as snobbish. I saw it as a survival mechanism. And she was not vain. She was very down to earth.

  15. HeatherAnn says:

    I had never thought about how much GOOP and others try to emulate CBK but that is so true. She was the very definition of nyc style. What a great point.

    • L84Tea says:

      I have seen GP wear almost identical looks to CBK. I recall GP trying to rock the sunglasses and bandana look in the early 2000’s–a look directly from CBK.

  16. Alix says:

    @ Kaiser: Young people today are mind-boggling ignorant of anything that didn’t happen 10 minutes ago. You know, Elvis, the Beatles, Sinatra, lots of folks were born and flourished well before my time, so I don’t remember them. But I sure as fuck know who they ARE!

    Case in point: my nephew is a cum laude Harvard grad. Apropos of his interests, he can rattle off the current stats of any pro athlete. He can tell you who the hell served as state senator from Missouri in the 1950s, and analyze the Lincoln-Douglas debates in detail. But ask him to name all four Beatles? He’ll get two of them — maybe. “I wasn’t even born then,” he’ll say. Well, you weren’t at the Lincoln-Douglas debates either, dude!

    • LaMaitresse says:

      Lol, didn’t Paul Begula say that to Meghan McCain on Real Time with Bill Maher during the 2008 election? His quip referenced the French Revolution, but it was very witty nonetheless.

      I thought it was alleged that Carolyn had a lengthy affair with model Michael Bergin, was quite abusive to JFK, and definitely wasn’t the type of woman Jackie would have approved of for her son? Her bio father was a salesman, step father is an MD, she was known for only dating the wealthiest men at college, definitely there for her MRS. Degree. I remember reading it in Hello magazine back when they got married, complete, with pictures of what she looked like pre JFK…

      • Amide says:

        👍👏 At everything you said Lamiatresse. Carolyn almost exclusively dated a lot of moneyed men and gravitated to wealth and beauty. Good for her, but it’s BS to now say she had no interest in fortune, or superficiality. Gurl didn’t fall off the turnip-truck.

      • Fanny says:

        Exactly. Girl went to BU, the school for people with a lot of money, but without the pedigree for the Ivy League. She dated the Benetton heir, the “How do you like them apples?” guy from Good Will Hunting, a CK model and JFK Jr. She doesn’t have a boyfriend of record who was NOT rich or famous in some way. She was always going to marry someone with money.

      • Amide says:

        Yep, add Eugene Carney who was captain of some Toronto ice hockey team and whose dad was a business big shot. Carolyn studied education at BU, was by most accounts not academically incline – similar to John – and dated money bag dudes. Her bio father was a salesman, but her mom re-married up and that was the world Carolyn wanted. She also stored the People mag JFK Jr Sexiest Man Alive cover, long before she met him.😁

      • Magnoliarose says:

        She was a social climber. No doubts about that and could mean girl like a champion. The use of “quirky” in this article isn’t a compliment. It is like when they advertise a home as cozy and it is as big as a tissue box. My grandmother always called problematic people “spirited” or someone who couldn’t get it together as having “An artistic temperament” Or people she could not stand “Complicated”.

      • kibbles says:

        I won’t fault her for wanting to marry rich. Don’t many women dream of doing the same? Marrying Prince Charming? Well, she actually accomplished that. JFK Jr. was the 90s era Prince Charming if there ever was one. I can’t speak for her personality as I have heard conflicting things of who she was and how she treated JFK Jr., but I’m willing to state that most women who marry rich men didn’t do it by chance or mistake. It’s almost certain that these men’s financial statuses were a factor into why these women chose to date and marry them.

      • hmmm says:

        “I won’t fault her for wanting to marry rich. Don’t many women dream of doing the same? Marrying Prince Charming?”

        No. You do women a great disservice with this assumption.

    • holly hobby says:

      Yeah there is a certain disconnect with the younger generation (those born in the 80s-90s?). They are book smart but you ask them anything from a different era you get a ???. I grew up in the 70s and I knew who Sinatra the Beatles, all those folks were. I even listened to music beyond what is currently played on the radio. I bet most of those younger people don’t know.

      Ugh I sound like my dad (Get off my lawn grumpiness).

      • Cee says:

        I was born in the 80s and that’s not the case at all. We do know. The 90s were full on nostaglia. However I have met 15 year olds who have no idea who Paul McCartney is. Sad. I’m sure they haven’t even heard of the A-teens let alone ABBA lol

    • Aren says:

      Depends of who you ask I guess, some of my classmates are not over 20 and know a lot about The Beatles, Joy Division, The Pixies, etc.

    • PoliteTeaSipper says:

      Oh for god’s sake. So the Harvard laureate is invalidated because he can’t remember all four names of people in a music group he might not even like? Kids these days, they just won’t get off your lawn, right? I know I’m sick to the back teeth of the Beatles and I’m 34. There’s other stuff out there. Time marches on. Just because baby boomers like it does not mean it is untouchable or the epitome of everything.

      • Alix says:

        Certainly not invalidated (hell, he’s my nephew!), and certainly it’s not about the Beatles per se. But it’s one thing not to know the details of pop culture before your time, it’s another thing to be virtually ignorant of it. Hell, I can name the members of the Rat Pack and they were waaaay before my time. I’m also aware of people like Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, Nate “King” Cole, what have you, the same way I know of, say, the French Revolution, WWII, and the Cold War. IMO, a healthy knowledge base includes at least a passing familiarity with people, places, and events that pre-date your lifetime. I kid my nephew about it constantly because certainly a Classics major would grasp this concept! We can have a lively discussion about Caesar Augustus, but dear Lord, I don’t think he even knows who the original Captain Kirk was! (Too bad, because his poor performance on pop-culture questions is the only thing keeping him from a major Jeopardy! payday.)

      • hannah89 says:



    • hannah89 says:


      wow…theres a lot of ‘get off my lawn’ attitude in the comments, especially w/this one in particular. who knew not knowing about POP CULTURE before you were born was ignorance!

      I think ignorance should be reserved for events/people with historical impact. I understand what you were trying to say Alix (sort of, a lot of it seemed like your frustration w/ being older) but it comes off as bitter. Very bitter. Like, Baby Boomer Bitter. and bitter doesn’t look good on anybody – but you’ve been on the planet longer than me, so I’m guessing you figured that out by now 😛

      • Alix says:

        Are you saying nothing in pop culture has any sort of historical relevance? Interesting.

        I’m surprised that my comments came across as bitter, because I’m not at all, just a bit incredulous. Especially at the unnecessarily bitchy tone of your post. But then, you’re probably just young enough to think that you’re coming across as deliciously snarky and witty, which is sadly not the case.

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        Shoot. I am 33 and know all those things too. Call me smug, I don’t care. I thought the same about your nephew and Jeopardy! And, to you saying pop culture is not history?! Thanks for the laugh.

    • jetlagged says:

      Don’t worry Alix, you didn’t sound bitter to me at all, just sadly mystified, and I share your bemusement. But apparently by @hannah89’s standards I’m a pathetic old prune myself because I know of, and appreciate, pop culture icons that sadly left this earth long before I was even born. My peers may have gone ga-ga over Madonna’s Material Girl video because it was a visual spectacle and they had never seen anything like it. I went ga-ga for it because it was almost an exact replica of a bit from a classic Marilyn Monroe film where she was singing about diamonds being a girl’s best friend. The film came out decades before my birth, but I still knew and loved it. And I knew in that moment that Madonna did too. Would I call my friends ignorant? Some of them, yes. Lacking in curiosity about anything not of their generation, also yes. Their loss really.

    • isabelle says:

      Depends on the music listened to in the house when kids grow and this is true of all generations. My 16 niece knows more Beatle trivia than I do, most 60s and 70s music. When I took her shopping as a toddler she could sing a long to overhead music in the grocery stories, belting out every word to yellow submarine better than adults. Listen to good music in your house and they will know.

  17. Seraphina says:

    I will say one thing, since Charles’s price on Diana is fresh and on my mind. If they wanted an unblemished princess for John imagine what stress Diana was put under for Charles.

    • Alix says:

      “A history but no past” is what they were looking for, if I recall.

      Can you imagine being stuck on a yacht for weeks with a man who boffed you a few times and then spent the rest of the honeymoon water-coloring???????

  18. Talie says:

    Carolyn was the ultimate cool girl and the fact that she died young, at the height of her beauty and power, cemented that image. Add on that she never gave an interview and you have legend status. I mean, can you imagine any person of note in this day and age never speaking, never sharing?!!

    I actually read Carole Radziwill’s book again recently and I had forgotten how obsessed she was over Carolyn.

    • holly hobby says:

      The beauty was we all knew what she looked like but we never heard her speak! I can’t recall a time I heard her voice. That’s the mystery and fixation right there.

    • JC says:

      Very true. I read the book, too. Both women were caught up with the Kennedy/Radziwill mystique. Hard not to be influenced by it.
      Carole will probably never remarry because she won’t part with the Radziwill name—which for 30 years has been her calling card, meal ticket, and cottage industry. And she was totally obsessed with Carolyn.

      • L84Tea says:

        Obsessed in an unhealthy way??

      • JC says:

        I wouldn’t say that Carole’s obsession with CBK was unhealthy, but it was that kind of fixation that you see in people who are socially ambitious. They have an ability to determine who it’s good to be close to, and then to work on keeping them close.

        The relationship between JFK jr. and Tony Radziwill created the opening for a friendship between Carole and Carolyn—but I would bet my last dollar that the relationship meant a whole lot more to CR than CBK.

        I wonder if another element was that neither came from their husbands’ worlds and neither was wholly accepted by their husbands’ families. Maybe they bonded because they both were like moths—-unable to resist the limelight–though not entirely fulfilled by what they chose.

  19. What's Inside says:

    It is always so sad how one bad decision can end a life. RIP Diana. RIP John and Carolyn.

  20. Fanny says:

    I doubt there’s anything particularly new in this People story. John Perry Barlow has made a career out of giving soundbites about John and Carolyn and it’s clear that he didn’t know that much about their daily lives.

    JFK Jr’s college friend who wrote a book (forget the name, there are so many books) tried to be sympathetic towards Carolyn but made her sound like a serious pain in the ass. He and his wife went out to dinner with John and Carolyn one time and Carolyn sat down on the curb outside her apartment and cried about how tormented she was by the paparazzi.

    First of all, the curb? Bad place to have a breakdown about the paparazzi. Also, she needed to get over it. I think she wielded the “poor me” thing about the paparazzi against John as a weapon. She milked it for all it was worth, made him feel guilty, and I think used it to get attention from him and their friends.

    Their friends try to defend her, but I think she was a major drama queen.

    • Christin says:

      The infamous park fight photos remain in my memory. John was near or in tears and left sitting with his dog.

      • Fanny says:

        I kind of think he liked her drama queen stuff and to a certain extent was also a drama queen himself. (His relationship with Daryl Hannah was all drama and breakups.) But I think it got out of control after they were married and was really wearing him down.

        Carole Radziwill alluded in her book to the fact that doctors don’t tell you that antidepressants and birth control pills can kill your libido – which I took as confirmation of the rumors that their sex life was basically nonexistent in the last few years of their lives.

      • LAK says:

        I remember that fight because it was on the news and the national enquirer reprinted frame by frame of it.

  21. PettyRiperton says:

    Is this dig up the dead week or something? First things about Diana in the news, now JFK Jr?! I wish folks would let these people rest in peace.

    • spidey says:


    • Alix says:

      It’s the anniversary year of Diana’s death, and JFK Jr. is bound to come up in a post about his wife. I don’t think some casual discussion and reminiscing is disturbing their rest much.

    • kibbles says:

      There will be a ton more news to look forward to on the 20th year of their deaths. Wait for it.

  22. Carol says:

    I just finished Jackie’s Girl, written by Jacqueline’s former personal assistant and sometimes nanny. She describes one meeting with Carolyn after their marriage. She was very careful with her wording, but you could tell she definitely was not a fan.

    • Jegede says:

      Oooh, details please.

      • Carol says:

        She and her husband were invited by him to one of the Kennedy homes because her husband was a builder and John wanted to talk renovations. She said Carolyn had just come back from a trip, but was more interested in the dog than anyone else, including John. Her husband said John was very sad that Carolyn had no interest in helping with the house, and when Carolyn heard John talking about getting her involved in the renovations, she shut him down. Finally, John asked her to talk with Carolyn about how his mother dealt with the paparazzi, but she just kept yelling that she hated them and refused to listen to any advice.

  23. perplexed says:

    I think she had a certain timeless look. The only outfit from her era that might be a giveaway that she was a grown-up in the 90s are a pair of flared jeans she wore.

  24. Tess says:

    The 90’s are now like the 70’s were when we were growing up

  25. BB Carrots says:

    I remember being on a family vacation when the plane went missing. Our car had broken down so we were at a repair place for hours and the only thing on the tv was news about it.

  26. Zondie says:

    Carolyn Bessette was cool, collected beauty. A real match for John Jr. Her wedding dress was lovely, but she didn’t wear a bra or any support. Even as flat chested as she was, it still was noticeable and I think looked cheap. I was surprised because she really had impeccable style otherwise.

  27. Mrs. Darcy says:

    I lived in New York from the mid to late 90s, I was in my early twenties, I certainly remember this tragedy. A co-worker lived in their Soho building and had a hard time getting in and out that week. Everyone felt connected to it somehow, my roomate’s Mom (we were from Mass.) made her take flowers to the memorial that sprung up (my own Mom is very anti Kennedy ,she thought Camelot was b.s. – in Mass. you either love or hate them). I had friends who used to see him in Central Park and swoon, I never did, but I didn’t get the fuss tbh.

    As for Carolyn changing the whole of 90s fashion…I think that’s oversimplifying – yes the wedding dress was a moment, but Gwyneth and Winona were also wearing slip dresses and Drew Barrymore overplucked her eyebrows like the rest of us, it’s hard to say it had any one leader other than a few fashion designers, and the 90s music and culture revolting away from the 80s altogether was also pretty dramatic. Her style was very New York, which even in 1995 when I moved there was super pared back, everything black, nails short and squoval, dark lipstick and minimal makeup, that’s just New York. Before Carolyn became a “fashion darling” there are plenty of shots of her looking more Ralph Lauren 80s preppy in oversized sweatshirts and Mom jeans, more of a nod to her suburban roots.

    I think she felt relatable, she humanized him even with her cool girl aesthetic, the pictures of her and her dog they printed a few years back are the ones that got me, I am sure they are online somewhere. Whatever their marital problems, they did seem to be genuinely a couple who got together because they were in love, and for them to die so young will always be poignant.

    • perplexed says:

      Even in her oversized shirts and Mom jeans, she looked good.

      Although the slip dress was worn by actresses for events where it wasn’t considered inappropriate, I don’t think it was actually worn as a wedding dress until Carolyn did it. That was what so unusual about Carolyn wearing a slip dress — until her, no one would have thought a bride could get away with that. I assume that’s why she got a bit of credit for changing up the wedding dress game.

      I think Gwyneth Paltrow literally did copy some of Carolyn’s Calvin Klein’s outfits. Winona and Drew had an aesthetic that was individual to them, but Paltrow seemed to actually buy the same dresses Carolyn did. I could have sworn I saw Gwyneth in a dress originally worn by Carolyn.

      I suspect some of Carolyn’s fashion style came from working for Calvin Klein.

      One thing I like about Carolyn is that her fashion sense looked like that of an adult. She didn’t seem to be trying for a little girl look.

      I would totally emulate her style if I were taller. Unfortunately, I think you have to be tall and have her body to pull off her minimalist style and be noticed. Her height was a real asset.

      I have to adjust what I wear to my shortness.

      Maybe people are drawn to Diana’s and Bessette’s fresh-faced looks because the current Kardashian look is kind of icky.

    • Carrie says:

      This sounds right. I was dressing like Carolyn before she became famous. It was just comfort professionally and personal style but it was also what was in fashion. Calvin Klein esthetic dominated at the time. I remember this because I never buttoned my shirt cuffs and my boss commented on it once. I just preferred them unbuttoned. After Carolyn died, a feature on her noted this same preference and they made a huge deal of it.

      As you said, it was the style at the time. Carolyn didn’t strike me as a great beauty but someone who was trying to be a great beauty. However, often people in person don’t translate in photos and I didn’t know her. It was very sad when the plane went down. The details around that flight make it worse. For whatever they were each like as individuals, I think together they were not good for each other. Still remember photos of her screaming at him in Central Park and he was nearly cowering it seemed. Fit the other things written about her since her death, which is sad to say but it just seems they should’ve never been together.

      John had another serious relationship while in university. She wrote a book, called Come to the Edge. It’s a great read. She is the woman he should have married. I felt bad for her because she is the one who took John to cumberland island when they were a couple. Then he married someone else and had his wedding on that same island. It’s pivotal in both relationships.

  28. minx says:

    I read Carole Radziwill’s book “What Remains” and recommend it. I picked it up a few years ago. Her account of JFK Jr. and Carolyn’s relationship has the ring of truth. It’s also a well-written book about Carole herself–her upbringing, her marriage to Radziwill, his death.

    • Joannie says:

      I read it too. Carolyn was/is my style icon. I thought she was stunning. She and Diana. Have a similar appearance. Small mouth, big eyes, long nose. Both beautiful.

  29. dhfsfc says:

    We went to Martha’s Vineyard for our annual vacation just days after the accident. The eeriest part of it was that their suitcases washed up on the beach near Jackie’s old house in Aquinnah.

  30. Cee says:

    Could someone please explain to me why the Kennedy family, particularly JFK’s branch, is so famous and glamorized in american media.
    I should clarify I’m not american and all I know is that JFK was assasinated while his wife sat next to him.

    • PoliteTeaSipper says:

      They are the soap opera family of the US. Start with Joe and Rose Kennedy (JFKs parents) and go from there.

      JFK and his brother RFK were politically assassinated, Teddy drowned a woman driving into a river at Chappaquiddick and got off scot free, an intellectually disabled sister had a lobotomy and lived in an institution the rest of her life, another sister died in a plane crash, the list goes on. It’s like a real life soap opera.

      • Jegede says:

        Don’t forget first born Joe Jr, who was killed in WW2.

        That guy was gorgeous.

      • Alix says:

        They also get credit (undeserved, IMO) for being very good looking. JFK was a better-than-average looking prez (it helped that he was so young) and certainly JFK Jr. was handsome as hell (not a fan of the hair, though). The rest of the family is all teeth.

      • Cee says:

        @Alix – yeah, I don’t get it. I don’t even find Jackie Kennedy beautiful. Elegant? Yeah. But not beautiful. I think the whole assasination thing, and him being young, turned his family into what they are. They’re almost a myth/folk.

      • Jegede says:


        Aww, I actually think JFK and Joe Jr were good-looking. Especially in their Navy days.

        Teddy was actually handsome when he was younger; but was Jabba The Hut Pt2 by the time he hit 40. All that booze didn’t help.

      • Jeesie says:

        I never understood why JFK and Jackie were considered at all attractive. Relative youth doesn’t equal good looks. JFK’s only notable feature was his droopy close set eyes with crazy huge eye bags, and Jackie looked like a Lego person. Huge square head, with again the only notable feature being the insanely wide set eyes.

        Their worst features combined to create a much more normal look in their children, but they themselves were not attractive people. If they’d been born to different families no one ever would have given either of them a second look.

      • perplexed says:

        I think JFK and Jackie were attractive for the time period they were in. Their looks seemed to fit that period. (Though I do think JFK and Teddy Jr. were good-looking in their younger days — I think JFK’s looks were altered by the medications he took for his back. I think Jackie was pretty enough before the assassination. The tragedies probably aged her faster).

        Plus, they were in politics. Semi-decent looking people who don’t look like Ted Cruz are always considered unusual in politics. I don’t think Sarah Palin, even with all the make-up and glitter, would be considered nearly as good-looking if she weren’t in politics.

    • Lightpurple says:

      They were the Obamas of their era. Jack was a handsome, intelligent, charming, poetry-quoting, war hero – yes, he was a war hero – and the only Catholic to serve as President. Jackie was an elegant, refined woman, who, unlike most of her predecessors, was well-traveled and had worked before marriage. She promoted the US fashion industry, restored the White House, and promoted the arts and arts education. And since people are listing tragedies, her first pregnancy ended in a late term miscarriage and her fourth was either stillborn or died shortly after birth during his presidency

    • Sarah says:

      Here you go:
      Young, glamorous, following the staid and boring Eisenhowers, she was a true style icon and he was her handsome Prince. The media hid the fact that he was a cheating jerk, though.

      • Taxi says:

        He had numerous affairs & Jackie had regular visits from Dr. Feelgood, with his amphetamine injections. It was later claimed that she had no idea what was in the shots & thought they were vitamins.

    • isabelle says:

      American royalty and really did try to help the poorer people of Appalachia and deep south. They had tones of money but still cared for the poor. Rich, good-looking and heart. My aunt was actually a Nanny for the Kennedy family in their golden era. She went on to be nanny for other very wealthy people. The Kennedys still remained her favorite family. Behind closed doors she said they treated her like a family member not a “servant” and were generous with her. JFK more than once would go sit with her in the kitchen (this when he was president) and talk while eating his meal. She cried her eyes outs when the plane went down and was never recovered.

  31. Lotta says:

    I’m sure that she was a style icon in the US, but to a lot of us in the rest of the world she wasn’t that well known or not known at all.
    I worked in the fashion industry in the late 80’s-middle 90’s. I also lived in the US at the time of her death so I ofcourse knew about Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, but I don’t think she was the “it girl” that stood out and changed fashion during that time. If I had to point out on person for doing just that I would my first choice would be Kate Moss.

    That said, I think she was a very beautiful women with a great sense of dressing elegant in a very simplistic way.

    • LAK says:

      Kate Moss has always been a special person. However, they both represented a different side of the Calvin Klein asthetic.

    • perplexed says:

      There was a Time magazine cover with the title “The Carolyn Style”.

      She married JFK JR. when she was 30 and died when she was 33. She was famous for only 3 years. So I think she was headed towards some kind of icon status for fashion, but simply didn’t live long enough.

      I don’t think JFK Jr. and Carolyn really accomplished anything important the way Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have (and I somehow don’t think they would have even if they had lived), but for the celebrity world of “looking good” I think they did their roles well. Compared to the Kardashians, they did seem like true celebrities, full of mystery and intrigue.

  32. Bethany says:

    I actually met Carolyn before she started dating JFK. It was my first trip to NYC . I was visiting my friend Leah and was absolutely fascinated by the city. To me it was magical. My last day there Leah and I were having lunch and as we were leaving I see a woman waving. It’s one of Leah’s former co-workers. We went over to the table where Leah’s friend was sitting with 2 other girls. One of them was absolutely stunning. It was Carolyn. She wasn’t Barbie Doll beautiful with perfect features but she had a presence about her that kind of took your breath away. Her hair was dark blonde, long and straight. She was wearing a black shirt and hoop earrings. That’s about all I can remember. I will say that although I am usually pretty confident I felt completely in awe of her. Leah and I sat and chatted for a few minutes with the group then left. Carolyn talked to us and was quite charming in a quiet sort of way. About a year later Leah called me and asked me “Do you know who JFK Jr. is dating? Carolyn Bessette!!?” I really wasn’t surprised. She was one of those women who have a magical quality. Glad I got to meet her even if it was for just 4 or 5 minutes.

    • april says:

      Loved your real-life encounter, Bethany. John and Carolyn made a gorgeous couple.

  33. Apple says:

    I admit it I read her ex’s book the Calvin Klein model Michael Bergin. He was truly, madly deeply in love with her. She was the ultimate honey badger of women. She did not give a F who you were or what you had. She was crack to men, she treated men like crap and they took the crumbs she gave them. John wanted her because he couldn’t have her completely. It wasn’t by design to land him it was just who she was.

  34. Shannon says:

    I lived in St. Marys, Ga, home to Cumberland Island where they were married, when they had the wedding. It was a huge deal with lots of whispering. I confess to copying her style all through college and beyond. I read she always wore black because it made her less likely to be papped if she didn’t switch up her wardrobe too much. I never had to worry about being papped (LOL) but I used the same logic as a broke-ass college woman and broke-ass newbie reporter and still now as a real estate agent – I veer from all black, but I always try to make sure I buy pieces that will all go together so I can get dressed in a hurry and without much thought. Tragic. She seemed like a really cool chick.

  35. Disco Dancer says:

    TBH, she was a stylish woman but no beauty (looked horsey to me) and definitely doesnt give off a warm and caring personality vibe. If their explosive fights are true, chances are they would’ve been divorced by now had they both been alive still. I remember when the news of their passing broke out and there was wall to wall coverage. I was in my tweener age at that time and didn’t understand why these people were so important, although I was well
    Aware of JFK and Jackie.

  36. MickeyM says:

    Looking back at photos of the two of them, her style seems truly timeless. That adjective gets thrown around a lot but her look does defy the last twenty-years at least.

  37. Deeanna says:

    Oh, come on, when six different people who knew you write six different books that all say – in one way or another – that you were a coke-head it kind of rises above the level of “rumor”. And they all said she was a big PIA also. Not that they didn’t still like her, but that she was indeed quite a pain at times.

  38. perplexed says:

    Although a lot of NYC women may have had her look, she never looked like she was trying too hard. It looked like the style she had came easily to her. (She probably worked hard on it, but you didn’t actually see the effort). That effortlessness is probably why she’s praised for her fashion sense.

    Gwyneth tries to copy her look and has similar colouring, but you can see the will and effort to try and be a cool girl. So, well, there’s the difference. Carolyn looked great while others may have looked okay enough but not had whatever “oomph” quality she had. I would assume that’s why some people like her (and Diana) are considered icons — they looked great in what would look average on everybody else.

  39. perplexed says:

    It’s funny how much Gwyneth wanted to style herself like Carolyn Bessette, but whatever her faults privately, I don’t think CBK would have been caught publicly talking about jade eggs up one’s body parts. Who knows what she talked about privately, but publicly I think she would have curled up in embarrassment since she was so private. Personality-wise in terms of coveting one’s privacy, Carolyn Bessette seemed like Gwyneth’s total opposite.

  40. Adele Dazeem says:

    One other wonderful aspect of Carolyn that i appreciate even more now than 20 years ago…she wasn’t a fame whore. She wasn’t parading around posing and seeking attention. I wonder what she would be doing in this era of oversharing, Facebook and snap chat hourly updates, etc. I kind of suspect she’d have followed the Angelina Jolie path and moving past the wild youth, doing charity work and still being low key in a world of instagram high key. Thoughts?

    • kibbles says:

      She would be in her early 50s today. There is a split between people that age who use social media regularly and who don’t use it very much if at all. I get the feeling she would not have used it directly. Maybe she’d only pop up in her famous friends’ Instagram pages occasionally. I believe they would have eventually divorced, but either way, she would have remained a private person. If they had divorced, I think she would have married another rich man and dabbled in philanthropy and fashion. For some reason I could have seen her as a fashion designer with her own line with looks very similar to Calvin Klein.

  41. BooBooLaRue says:

    All I can say is, where did the last 20 years of my life go? RIP JFK, Jr.

  42. Sadie Marie says:

    I remember her hair colour was a big deal at the time because it was the start of multi tonal highlights. Before then, the only highlights you could get outside NYC was the kind where they pull your hair through a cap and bleach it. It would cost $75 at a salon tops or there were kits you could do at home. Then everyone wanted to copy her and spend hundreds on their hair.

    I remember thinking it looked so good on her at the time but looking through those pics now, her hair looks very yellow for her complexion.