A new book on Carolyn Bessette Kennedy disputes the infamous pedicure story

This summer will be the 25th anniversary of the deaths of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. They died in a plane crash in August 1999. I was in college, I remember it well, and it happened less than two years after Princess Diana’s tragic death. Since their deaths, hundreds of books have been written about their marriage and lives, very few of them complimentary to Carolyn. Hopefully, this new book will be different. Elizabeth Beller has written Once Upon a Time: The Captivating Life of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. People Mag had exclusive excerpts – go here to read the full excerpts. Beller says that she’s trying to show a different side of Bessette, the side which wasn’t some harsh ice queen.

When JFK Jr & Carolyn met: In spring 1992, Calvin Klein was just getting back into menswear. None other than John F. Kennedy Jr. had an appointment for a fitting and [Calvin decided] Carolyn should show John the selection. He came out of the meeting smitten, with a few suits and Carolyn’s number. “John invited her to join his group at a gala dinner,” recalled [Calvin’s assistant.] “Sitting next to him was another woman that Carolyn either mistook as his date, or actually was his date.” It was unclear, and Carolyn wasn’t pleased. But when they met again at a May 18 fundraiser, they were spotted in deep conversation at the bar. John and Carolyn stayed there for over an hour, never looking away from each other. Lightning had struck.

Early courtship: After the benefit, John and Carolyn continued to see each other, in a haze of sultry dinners, dancing, and walks in Central Park. John even brought Carolyn to Sea Song, the Long Island, home he rented with his cousin, Anthony Radziwill. The week after that, Carolyn met John for dinner at El Teddy’s, where he presented Carolyn with a letter [from] a friend of his. The letter claimed Carolyn was a user, a partier, that she was out for fame and fortune [and] “dated guys around town.” John casually tossed the piece of paper at her, stood, and walked out the door. Carolyn stared in shock at John as he departed.

Carolyn wanted John to think she moved on: “John called all the time,” says [a] Carolyn friend, “[We recorded] an outgoing message on her answering machine.” Anyone who called would get Carolyn saying, “Hey, hon, I’ll be back by seven o’clock, can’t wait to see you!” The idea was that John would hear it and assume she’d moved on. John did—and he called even more. But behind closed doors, Carolyn and John were developing a real kind of intimacy.

The proposal: The weekend of July 4, 1995, he asked her to go fishing in Martha’s Vineyard—and proposed. He turned to Carolyn and said, “Fishing is so much better with a partner.” Then he put a platinum band of diamonds and sapphires on her finger. Carolyn told him, “I’ll think about it.” This was also the time when Carolyn lost weight, and plucked her eyebrows to small wisps. And so when Carolyn stepped into the [Municipal Art Society] gala on John’s arm [on Feb 27, 1996], she had metamorphosed to a platinum siren.

Princess Diana’s death: Almost a year later, Princess Diana was killed in a car accident as the result of her driver trying to outrun the paparazzi. Carolyn was terrified. [She] tried to get John to call Princes William and Harry to give his condolences when it came out that Diana had hoped for her sons to emulate John’s modesty in the face of media obsession. He demurred, as he didn’t know them and thought that their situations greatly differed.

Marriage counseling: They began marriage counseling in the spring of 1999. A week [after July 4], John had told several friends and colleagues that he and Carolyn were splitting up. Yet, others noted they seemed very happy together, even the weekend before. After initially refusing to attend his cousin Rory’s July 17 wedding, Carolyn agreed. John would also fly Carolyn’s sister Lauren from New York to Martha’s Vineyard on their way to Hyannis Port.

The pedicure story: Tabloids put forth an alleged timeline in which Carolyn lingered for hours getting a pedicure. Yet an eyewitness report has her leaving the pedicurist by 5 p.m. She went to Saks to buy a dress for the wedding and picked out a black Yves Saint Laurent evening dress. After the purchase, the salesgirl wished Carolyn good luck. “Thanks,” Carolyn replied. “I’m going to need it.” [John, Carolyn and Lauren] were stuck in traffic and didn’t make it to the airport until after 8 p.m. Before they took off, Carolyn called Carole Radziwill, and they talked about Sunday-night dinner. “The plan,” Carole wrote in What Remains, “was grilled steaks and peach pie.”

[From People]

The pedicure story was started years ago by a particularly brutal Vanity Fair article, in which it was heavily implied that Carolyn was so vain, she kept having her pedicure redone and redone to match her dress, and that she was the reason why they left in the plane so much later than people thought. But the marriage counseling story seems true, as was Carolyn’s general unhappiness in the marriage in the last year or so. Anyway, I’m totally going to read this book.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images, Avalon Red.

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137 Responses to “A new book on Carolyn Bessette Kennedy disputes the infamous pedicure story”

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  1. ariel says:

    He comes off as a real jack*ss. Am i the only one reading it that way?

    • Joyful Liluri says:

      No. He seems awful.

    • Tooearly says:

      Not at all! The whole bit with the letter??? I was definitely thinking “oh killed them both on purpose” by the end.

    • Ameerah M says:

      Nope. He was an a$$hole.

    • Barbara says:

      Not just you. If it had been me he threw some bullcrap letter at, I would never have spoken to him again. He comes off as a judgmental jerk.

      • dj says:

        Oh my gosh. If someone threw a letter at me (of someone else’s opinion!) like that…NEVER would I speak to them! That made my blood boil just reading that someone could do that!!! Bye a-hole.

    • Lady Esther says:

      He treated her like that before they even got married…and she STILL went with it? Wow, he’s a toxic asshole and she was a grown woman making an epically bad choice, tale as old as time. Ugh, what a mess

      • B4n4n4 Ph0n3 says:

        I hope that’s sympathy you’re tiptoeing around, and not fault. I don’t know anything about her so she might well have been a horrible person, no idea, but there are countless reasons why “grown women” make the “especially bad choice” to marry a s*tbag even if they’ve already shown a sliver of their a**. Whether she sucked as a human or not, abusive and/or just crappy men in general are not a punishment to be wished on others just as women aren’t to blame for falling prey. I know you didn’t say all that, but there was enough of a hint – maybe unintentionally, for sure – that it seemed appropriate to remind folks it ain’t about that.

      • Thinking says:

        I always had the impression he was a “gentleman.” It’s only in recent years we’ve been hearing unfavorable impressions of him.

        Assuming the letter story is true (which I’m not sure it is), I was a bit surprised she’d want to be with him after that, to be honest. I don’t think it’s that weird to question what she might have been thinking, because I know I’m a bit stunned to read he did that.

        I assume his looks and charisma were so potent she looked past the letter mishap, and obviously his status helped, but I was shocked to read this aspect of his personality existed. I just assumed he was kind of dumb (but hot), not necessarily cruel. In this excerpt he comes across as both.

        At the same time, she getting up in his face in Central Park is now starting to make a lot of sense, if the letter story is true. I’m wondering how it took this long to come out,

      • BlueNailsBetty says:

        @Thinking Nope, it was well known back then that he had a temper and his blowups (some of them in public) at his girlfriends (Darryl Hannah and Carolyn) were reported on in the gossip rags.

    • Nope, definitely not the only one. RIP and all, but every anecdote I’ve read about him over the years always ultimately left me with the impression that he was a spoiled brat, even though they were usually very heavy handed with the “poor John John, victim of mean Carolyn!” rhetoric.

    • BeanieBean says:

      He’s the jerk, definitely.

    • ELX says:

      Games children play. These two clearly should never have gotten married.

    • BlueNailsBetty says:

      He was a jerk and I felt so sorry for her. She was yet another woman sucked into the arrogance of the Kennedy men.

  2. Joyful Liluri says:

    He threw a letter at her and left?

    Yeah. I would have been done. What a completely trash move.

    • Barrett says:

      I always got the impression that he was restless. I read he was not a good student, he failed the bar multiple times. He probably overall was immature from his upbringing, looks, intelligence and overall voyeurism of the press his whole life. Stuck between wanting to be normal and being spoiled. He was probably VERY apt for a journey of personal growth shadowed by self destruction. Flying w/o instrument training at night in bad weather shows his maturity and the co-existence of thinking he was above being mortal and having low intelligence/self destructive behavior. Weeks before he was recovering from a foot injury paragliding or sailing. My roommate at time saw him out w bum appendage in cast in Tribeca. Universe was speaking to him. I feel sad for the Bessette girls in plane….. I totally remember this event.

      • Thinking says:

        I thought he had ADD or something.

        He was bound to be lost. He looked like he was born to be a movie star or model, but everyone expected him to be President like his dad. His dad was handsome in an intelligent-looking way, but he was hotttt in a more seductive and somewhat sexy way. I’d probably be an idiot too if I was born with his “gifts”, money and fame. I don’t know how you can turn out normal in his circumstances. Even the Queen had a rigid discipline forced upon her that he didn’t have.

      • Harpervalleypta says:

        The feeling with “John John” was that he could do ANYTHING he wanted and everyone would support him in anyway they could …. He just had to totally successful at it.

        Which is a helluva burden to put on someone.

      • Lux says:

        I believe Jackie blocked him from a career in entertainment, but they deemed “George” magazine founder/editor acceptable. It did not do well…I think he would’ve leaned way in to being an actor or model if it wasn’t for his mom/family.

      • Emcee3 says:

        I’m reserving judgement on the veracity that letter story. But other JFK Jr stories remind me of men in my orbit who are mildly spoiled & utterly clueless about practical matters. I remember reading that JFK Jr had racked up thousands in NYC parking tickets that had to be paid off before he took the job working at the DAs office once he (finally) passed the bar. I know *a lot* of guys like that, blowing off speeding tickets & shocked to find out there’s a warrant out for their arrest.
        John was very close to his cousin Anthony, like brothers; they were best man at each other’s weddings. But his widow Carole wrote that John had blinders on about Anthony’s illness when his cancer returned, saying he just blocked out that his best friend might die. It was Carolyn who stepped up to become a source of support.
        I got the impression John’s mother didn’t want him to fear death, but didn’t want him to court it, either. And that makes for a contradictory mindset. VanityFair ran an excerpt from Christina Haag’s memoir of her 5yr relationship w/ John, & it included a terrifying kayak excursion in open waters during a vacation in Jamaica. Her account echoes his recklessness. He’s not intentionally cruel in the manner that a Trump son is, proudly posing w/ the big kill on a game hunt. But that kayak story made me think there’s a type of carelessness that allows a whiff of cruelty to fly under the radar.

  3. Ameerah M says:

    I always felt John was the a$$hole in the relationship and these stories confirm it. I mean throwing a letter at someone and walking out? That’s such childish behavior. He couldn’t even have an adult conversation with the person he was in a relationship with. No desire to let her say her peace. If this was his regular behavior I can see why she was unhappy.

  4. Jais says:

    Huh? I’m confused by the early courtship story. John gave her a letter from a friend of his that called her a user and then left her at the restaurant. How’d they get past that? Jeez.

    • Jennifer says:

      That is what I’d like to know too. Why the hell was he still calling her?! WTF with this dude?

    • BeanieBean says:

      And why would he receive this letter from his friend, read it, obviously believe it, then…keep the date with Carolyn only to throw the letter at her & leave? What kind of psycho behavior is that?

      • Yup, and for him to still pursue her so heavily, after that gross display of theatrics? Carolyn should’ve ran for the hills.

      • BlueNailsBetty says:

        He did that because he needed to reject her and he needed to be dramatic about it. His arrogance and ego needed to “win”.

  5. ABCD says:

    I always thought the pedicure story was wrong as the dress she had bought was black not pale lilac. Disappointingly there isn’t anything new in those excerpts which hadn’t been written about before.

    • CL says:

      I thought the same for those very reasons!

    • Lorelei says:

      The fact that she waited until she was on her way to the airport to buy her dress seems worse to me than the pedicure story, lol! Although I guess when you look like that and can afford anything, it’s easy to stroll into Saks and pick out a dress quickly. Not the nightmare it can become for us peasants who aren’t a size 00 and who need to consider price tags.

      I feel sorry for her, because she was so private, notoriously hated the attention, and when she died, she was fated to forever have every detail of her short life picked over. (I’m going to read this book, too, so I’m part of the problem! Just pointing out that we really don’t know anything about who she was as a person, and that sucks for someone who would have hated books being written about her.)

  6. Lulu says:

    His family, for years, tried to paint her as his downfall. Other accounts of their relationship show him to have been an arrogant and demanding partner. She probably was unhappy. And the only person to blame for their deaths was John…he had no business flying, period. I remember the ridiculous stories about her in the highly misogynist 90s media spins and even as a young girl I always wondered how her supposedly bring late caused a pilot to crash his plane? If their story were to play out in today’s news, it would be a completely polarized narrative.

    • Teddy says:

      The connection is that it gets notoriously foggy after dusk around the Cape Cod coast and pilots need to fly by instruments. They’re blaming her for making John have to fly in poor conditions.

      But as I recall, he had also just bought a more powerful plane that was beyond his abilities. He wasn’t a strong pilot, not experienced at flying by instruments -only, and his decision to leave so late and in poor conditions cost them their lives.

      • lucretias says:

        He quite possibly “could” have been fine if he had followed the coastline and used the lights from the coast to navigate, but I guess to make or for lost time or to get there faster he chose to fly across open water, which is hard to do without instrument training in foggy/hazy conditions. He also could have had a his instructor go with him, but declined. He DID have some instrument training, but was still not proficient and had as mentioned go a new faster/fancier plan.

      • Deering24 says:

        He wasn’t certified for night flying at all, right?

    • HillaryIsAlwaysRight says:

      Exactly. If weather conditions are not right for flying, or you don’t have enough experience to fly in those conditions safely, then you don’t take off. My dad was a helicopter pilot. He’s told me inspecting the machine and determining whether you have the training to fly on instruments is the pilot’s responsibility. Couldn’t they have left in the morning when the weather cleared?

      • Ciotog says:

        He was still learning how to fly. He should have flown with an instructor.

      • Bqm says:

        It’s a five hour drive. The wedding wasn’t until the next day. They could’ve even gotten a car service to drive them in comfort if the weather was bad for flying.

    • The Blower’s Daughter says:

      I thought the story was that Kennedys tried to blame her to avoid a big payout to the Bessettes from John’s estate. Didn’t work.

  7. girl_ninja says:

    I thought that they were so glamorous and beautiful together. I remember pap pictures of them fighting in a park (Central I believe) and thinking “Yikes.” But they were married and she helped user in simpler elegant wedding bride style. If that story of him throwing a letter at her and walking out is true then gross, gross, gross.

  8. HillaryIsAlwaysRight says:

    Circa 1998 I saw her eating dinner with a very bulky, blonde male model type at Tartine in Greenwich Village. She was very touchy with him. It was interesting. And yes, she looked better in person. And we were all making our eye brows pencil thin back then.

    • Taylor says:

      A friend saw them on the ferry to the Vineyard once and said she looked “absolutely stunning” in person- better than the photos captured.

    • Flamingo says:

      I wonder if the model was Michael Bergin with maybe some blonde highlights. He wrote a book about Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. They dated and she left him for John. Then claimed they had an ongoing affair during her marriage. Michael was pretty obsessed with Carolyn. I don’t know if it’s true or not. Or he was just trying to cash in on her name and their dating history pre John.

      • Eos says:

        This is what I remember too. That she was a heavy user, was conflicted about marrying John. She stalked Michael, after marrying John, climbed thru windows at Michael’s and waited for Michael when he wouldn’t respond to her. John and Carolyn’s marriage was tumultuous, there was even a pic of them arguing at Central Park. Her sister accompanied them on that last plane ride to facilitate a reconciliation etc…
        The truth is somewhere in between the gossip.

      • Brassy Rebel says:

        I remember the heavily papped Central Park fight which went out into the street. He wasn’t putting his hands on her but his demeanor was hella scary.

      • Flamingo says:

        @Brassy Rebel I think that is when she threw her engagement ring at him. That was one epic fight they had.

        One thing about Carolyn she did not put with John’s sh*t.

      • Flamingo says:

        *correction I just watched their fight on youtube. He actually tore the ring off her finger. Then he gives it back later.

        I bet they had the best makeup sex that night…


      • Andrea says:

        I remember that fight like it was yesterday. I was a teenager an living and hour north of NYC. Everyone I knew (adults) adored JFK Jr where I was from and mostly blamed her for the fight. So many people wished he’d have married Darryl Hannah instead. That fight is EPIC for celebrities. I can’t imagine having a fight with someone like that (I am very non confrontational). If I fight like that, we are breaking up. I do believe I bet they had AMAZING makeup sex after that though.

      • HillaryIsAlwaysRight says:

        It definitely wasn’t Michael Bergin. (I had to google him,) This guy was a natural blonde, with gorgeous wavy hair. Thick cashmere blue sweater. She had on great black patent leather boots with kitten heels. Yes, I was staring.

      • Isabella says:

        @eos. Wow, calling this poor dead woman a user. Pure misogyny. Carolyn worked her way up from a modest upbringing to a great job at Calvin Klein. She met lots of famous people and didn’t need John, Your hideous take on her romantic life is based on pure gossip,

    • bisynaptic says:

      No, we weren’t.

  9. Square2 says:

    Let’s be honest, JFK Jr was a privilege spoiled man-child. He has money, look & name-recognition to still figure out what he wants to well into his mid-30s. Instead of acting like a mature person, discussing the truthfulness in the letter with Carolyn, he tossed down the letter& walked out? Did he even pay the restaurant bill before walking out?

    John might loved her but he loved himself more. She really looked very unhappy in the pap photos during the last several years of her life. She, her sister & her parents deserved better.

    PS. JFK Jr was not qualified to fly by instruments at the time of his death. He only qualified solo flying for visual flying. He had no business done that that night.

  10. Mimi says:

    They were probably not a good match, and that lent to the toxicity of their situation. Many people dismissed Michael Bergin’s account of his relationship with CBK because it interfered with their idea of JFK Jr. being the ultimate catch, but I always felt that he was telling the truth. Michael clearly loved her and was devastated by her passing. John was entitled and used to being the center of attention and she was not the submissive wallflower he probably needed.

  11. Libra says:

    Who was there to witness this letter being thrown at her and where is the letter n ow? Did she save it? How does the writer know this letter ever existed. I have grown extremely suspicious of writing about the dead who cannot set the record straight about themselves.

    • Square2 says:

      People in the restaurant? Carolyn’s friends? John also did not treat Daryle Hannah well, you know? They had many fights; though she still loves him. Hannah is alive, you can go ask her about John’s character out of public eyes.

    • SunnyDays says:

      Thank you! How does the author know this? Did Carolyn or John tell a friend circa 30 years ago? I always take these type of books with a huge grain of salt, nothing can be verified.

      • Lorelei says:

        Yeah the excerpts kind of glide over how they went from the letter-throwing incident to getting engaged! Hopefully the book will have more context.

  12. Alex Can says:

    She was very beautiful and had that natural elegance that some commentators attributed to Rose Hanbury yesterday. Carolyn was much more fashionable but both women seem very comfortable in their own skin.

    • ohwell says:

      Yes! Rose and CBK do resemble each other with their big blue eyes, long nose and weak jaw. Both have an effortless style.

  13. Sunnee says:

    Hmm, this doesn’t jibe with my memories at all. I was under the impression that their flight was delayed because her sister’s boss kept her late. That’s why it was dark by the time they flew from the airport.

    • Jaded says:

      Came here to say the exact same thing @Sunnee. I’m old and I remember this all clearly — her sister Lauren was late getting out of work and held up the flight departure. They ran into marine fog and you really can’t tell what’s up from down when that happens. Unless you’re instrument trained your f*cked. Mr. Jaded was a helicopter pilot for many years and had his run-ins with it, luckily he was instrument trained. John should NOT have taken off as that area of the coast is often shrouded in fog after dusk. He was the direct cause of the crash.

      • Lorelei says:

        That’s my memory as well..her sister was stuck at work later than expected.

        It wasn’t like the crash was any one person’s “fault” — it sounded like there were a few different factors that collided and caused the tragedy. The fact that they left way later than planned because of traffic getting from NYC to the airport in NJ was apparently a big part of it.

        I loved JJ, but he definitely shouldn’t have been flying that night. In a book called, “The Night John Died,” there’s a story from another (more experienced) pilot who went to the same airport that night at the same time as JFKJr, intending to fly, but saw the weather report, and turned around and went right back home. (He might have had a short conversation with John that night? Not sure; it was years since I read the book.) IIRC, he was surprised to hear later that John had taken off because it was pretty clear to him that the weather forecast was too poor to fly.

        I thought air traffic controllers had the right to ground everyone if they deem it necessary, but maybe that doesn’t apply at a small, private airport? I have no idea. But you’d think the decision to fly at night in the rain would not have been left up to the brand new pilot!

        IIRC, John had *just* enough hours under his belt to be legally able to fly alone? But most pilots agreed the conditions that night made it too risky. IDK if he went ahead anyway because he was arrogant, or if he honestly just underestimated how disoriented he could get in the fog after dark.

        In the book I mentioned, it explained how quickly you can completely lose your sense of which way is up — and quickly lose all control— when you’re in the cockpit of a plane that small when fog is involved.
        It was scary to even read.

  14. girl_ninja says:

    That awful person Emily Griffin wrote a book using Carolyn and John’s relationship as a template. Joe and Cate are the names of the couple in the book.

  15. Digital Unicorn says:

    I adored her wedding dress – she had that effortlessly cool girl vibe that Goop has been cosplaying for years. Her rep has been trashed to whitewash his – he was a known playboy with a temper who thought he was the next big thing.

    As others have said he should never have flown that night but IIRC he didn’t want to fly first thing in the morning. We’ll never know why they were running late – it was such a tragic accident. The Bissette family lost 2 daughters, so sad for them.

    • Jaded says:

      Carolyn’s sister Lauren was late getting out of work and held the departure up. He was determined to make the flight despite the dangers of marine fog and that kind of says it all about what a stubborn tool he was. Apparently the Bessette family reached a settlement with the Kennedy family for some $15 million but you can’t put a price on the terrible loss of 2 daughters.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Terrible thing. So many bad decisions that evening. So reminiscent of Diana’s last evening.

      • Andrea says:

        I am an only child and the last of my last name. I could see my father suing the heck out of someone if I somehow died in a similar fashion. In fact, he has mentioned it several times. I know there is no price for the death of two daughters, but I can see why they had a settlement.

    • Lorelei says:

      I know a few people who worked with him and they’ve never had a bad word to say about him. So I guess it depends on where one is getting info from when it comes to what he was like.

      But regardless of his personality, by all accounts, he absolutely should not have been flying that night.

  16. Flamingo says:

    I never heard the pedicure story. I thought the generally accepted story was they were stuck in traffic getting to the airport late.

    John tried to get a radar certified pilot to go with them. But was not able to get one. And John was only visually rated. I have read at the airport Carolyn was impatient and wanted to get going. IDK if that is true or just assumed John could fly and was taking too long. And he didn’t want to disappoint her not flying without a rated co-pilot.

    Howard Stern spoke about meeting her at a party. She said she had an electric personality and people are drawn to her. And even more stunningly beautiful in person (even more so than her photos).

    Such a sad ending for Caroly, Lauren and John.

  17. Pam says:

    CBK remains one of the most beautiful stylish women EVER. I could look at pictures of her for hours. She elevated John Jr in every way. I believe her to have been an intelligent empathetic human whose life was cut far too short. I STAN!

  18. VoominVava says:

    The thing I really appreciate so much about CBK’s fashion is that you can look at a photo of her and she still looks fashionable today. Her style was timeless. Also, her hairstylist / colourist was fantastic. It looked pretty natural even though there has to be no way her hair was that platinum naturally. Gorgeous colour. Loved her whole look with the icy eyes, red lips and blonde hair in a simple bun or ponytail.

    • Flamingo says:

      right, I have seen some Tik Tok and they were brand checking her outfits. You can still buy what she was wearing in the 90’s. Her look was always timeless. God I remember getting my eyebrows so thin to look like hers. She was my Goop before Goop was Goopy.

    • Nlopez says:

      I love her style too! There’s a book out CBK style I think it’s called. Everything she wore could be worn today. She had a classic style. Such a tragedy the loss of 3 lives. I’ve always thought she was portrayed as problematic because a lot of people were jealous of her. He was lucky to have her .

    • Kitten says:

      Exactly. I remember being so obsessed with her style when I was younger, even though I didn’t have the money to emulate it. Classis looks..lots of Calvin Klein obviously.
      I know everyone is talking about the fight-in-the-park photos but I still remember the pics where she had on baggy pants and he had a red hat on backwards and they were just all loved-up in central park. It was such a fall vibe. Sigh.

  19. Brassy Rebel says:

    Apparently, John promised his mother he would not become a pilot although he wanted to. That’s why he only took up flying after her death. His mother knew how reckless and irresponsible he could be and couldn’t bear losing another man in her life.

    His magazine, George, was pretty much a vanity project which never paid its own way. He was well on the way to becoming a dilettante at the time of his death. I never knew that much about her but it sounds like she fell in love with a myth and found herself married to a deeply flawed man. It’s all very sad. Three young lives wasted.

    • Lorelei says:

      Agree that George was pretty much a vanity project and that the people around him likely went along with it because they felt like they didn’t have much of a choice (if they wanted to keep working with him)? But I have to feel sorry for someone who grew up with everyone having so many expectations of him…sooooo many people just assumed he’d go into politics, which he obviously had no interest in, so I guess he thought that *covering* politics via George would send the message that he was not interested in becoming POTUS? And he worked for the NYC DA’s office when he could have gone to a firm and made a sh!tload of money instead.

      People always talk about how he failed the bar, but the NY bar is notoriously the most difficult one in the country! Most lawyers agree that NY and CA are the toughest ones, with the lowest passage rates, and lots of people don’t pass the first time, so that’s a dumb argument, imo. There are so many great attorneys who had to take it more than once.

  20. TN Democrat says:

    The crash was completely JFK, Jr’s fault. He wasn’t instrument certified and weather conditions that night required the ability to read instruments instead of flying only using visual landmarks. He was also recovering from an injury. He, like Will-not, needed a co-pilot. His arrogance and thoughtless killed himself and two sisters. Blaming Carolyn for the crash that also killed her sister has always been revisionist and misogynistic. It takes 2 people to be in an unhappy marriage and the smearing Carolyn has taken since her death is appalling.

  21. Matilda says:

    I lived two blocks from their loft in Tribeca and they were an odd couple. They would openly argue in public, he was always checking out other attractive women even in front of her which would trigger her even further but then again they would be in a restaurant all over each other looking madly in love. I formally met her at an event where we at the same table and as my dinner companion, a well known art collector, introduced me at the table everyone acknowledged me kindly (they were more famous and iconic than her) but she just turned her head and started talking to Kelly Klein. This was about the time she started seeing John. My friend whispered in my ear and said, ignore her, she’s a see you next Tuesday. Last year a friend of mine found a picture of the event with me sitting with Carolyn, Kelly and another woman and tagged me on Instagram. All these people were wowed by the picture and wanted me to comment on being pictured with Carolyn, all I said was, oh how nice to have a picture of the evening as younger people see her as a fashion icon and just want to hear the positive. I will say she was always impeccably dressed in my sightings of her in Tribeca and around town and he would jog without a shirt which I appreciated greatly. Long story short, two attractive imperfect people who seemed kind of volatile with each other.

    • Jaded says:

      Wow, great story Matilda. Yeah, he was a well known skirt-chaser like many of the Kennedy men, and even after he got involved with Carolyn he continued…. everyone from Madonna to SJ Parker to Darryl Hannah to countless others. He was catnip.

    • ohwell says:

      Thanks for posting Matilda!

      I love CBK’s style and I though Junior to look a little on the duh side.

      • JEB says:

        @matilda Your description of her pairs w/someone I know who lived in NYC at that time and ran in similar circles. Knew CBK and her sister, said they were both extremely snobby mean girls. I don’t think he was any prize either.

    • Diana says:

      Yeah. From all the books that I’ve read about the two of them. It kind of seems like two people that came into this marriage with good intentions and within 6 months to the 1st year realized they made a mistake. And Instead of ending it like a normal couple decided to keep going. Because honestly it would have been embarrassing especially for JFK Jr to end a marriage so soon. A shame because Carolyn and Lauren might still be alive..

    • Lorelei says:

      @Matilda, I absolutely understand why you can’t link to it, but I’m dying to see this photo now!!

      I think I read that he tended to dress super-casually during his personal time to try and blend in so paparazzi would have a harder time picking him out if he looked like every other schlub on the street? but sadly it didn’t work. He was too good-looking to get away with that, lol.

  22. Mcmmom says:

    I read everything I could get my hands on about the Kennedys – all of them. My mom volunteered for RFK’s campaign and still posts pictures of JFK and Jackie, so I grew up hearing about the Camelot myth. I read quite a bit about John and Carolyn, though I wouldn’t necessarily say I was obsessed with her – she had great style and he was, of course, beautiful, so they were intriguing.

    And their death was completely, 100% of his fault. The men in that family are arrogant and have been treated like they could no wrong for GENERATIONS. The Kennedy men are jerks.

    • Looper says:

      Holy cannoli, yes… I was raised by a crazed Irish Catholic Democrat, she obsessed over this family… Watching the Youtube wedding tapes— that another commenter mentioned—- I thought she looked terrified for much of the ceremony and the whole thing felt rich white guy cult. Ew.

  23. Ben says:

    I didn’t know he was such an a-hole. What the hell with throwing that letter at her?! I’ve always admired her effortless elegance, minimalist, impeccable and timeless style. I also admired that apparently she didn’t fall head over heels for him immediately and pushed back sometimes. She seemed to had been a very private and discreet person. The press used that to paint her as unlikeable bc she didn’t bend to his whims.

    • ohwell says:

      CBK did not give the media access to her life, so they trashed her.

      • Emcee3 says:

        I always felt it was a downstream low-fi a media campaign against her especially since the couple only released that one personal photo from their wedding. Only having one pic to run on magazine covers reduced a lot of income streams in the print media who need to move units, not to mention the photojournalists & paparazzi who lost out on that day to trademark whatever they could capture & set a hefty price
        Making CBK miserable & capturing it on film for the media to script a narrative was their revenge. There’s a breed of men who enjoy making women miserable for sport. And if they make a few bucks during the process, it’s a two-fer.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Emcee, TOTALLY AGREE. They were angry because she was so private and didn’t give interviews or do photo shoots, and the NYC media wasn’t able to make any money off of her. Only pap shots, and she refused to smile for those. The paps basically stalked them and there were always a bunch of them skulking around outside his apartment building.

        I’d look pissed off in photos, too, if those creeps were constantly following me and shouting my name, trying to get a reaction out of me. I remember at the time, a lot of people felt like, “Well, she knew what she was signing up for by being with him!” but I never agreed with that. No one consents to being freaking stalked and photographed every time they walk out their front door because of who they choose to date/marry.

        I agree completely that that’s why she was always talked about so negatively. It reminds me of what they’re doing to Meghan now, tbh. They’re always mad when someone refuses the access that will allow them to make $$.

  24. VilleRose says:

    I was young when this happened (11) and I didn’t follow CBK or JFK Jr. at all. I remember the plane crash news media stories but I didn’t really understand the fuss as I missed out on the intense media coverage of their relationship. It was only years later that I understood they were our version of Charles/Diana in a way (also I know it’s probably a typo but Diana died August 1997 and CBK and JFK Jr. died July 1999 so there is nearly two years separating the tragedies, not “less than a year”). And from everything I’ve read, it was JFK Jr’s reckless decision to fly a plane he was in no way qualified to fly that caused them to crash. Carolyn didn’t put a gun to his head and demand he fly that plane. I also don’t think they would have stayed together had they lived. She hated the media attention and was very shy and I honestly don’t know what JFK Jr’s aspirations were. But he seemed to kind of float through life, a product of the intense media attention on him after his dad died and his Kennedy privilege.

    • Emcee3 says:

      The media, especially the photojournalists, were extremely irate that John & Carolyn had successfully pulled off their secret wedding. I remember Caroline Kennedy’s 1986 wedding allowed some media coverage & the photojournalists given access made good money selling their work to the print media. The one who took/sold the pic that made the cover of LIFE magazine that summer definitely made a decent chunk of change. Everyone expected John to do the same, especially since he was in the biz w/ his own zine, George.
      Fast forward to 1999, & the one photo released of John kissing Carolyn’s hand as they exited the chapel. Folks in the trade were p*ssed they were denied the opportunity to cash in on the much anticipated “wedding of the century,” proceeding to remedy that by getting as many pap shots of the couple as they could & dialing up the harassment when CBK ventured out alone. Those guys were going to extract punitive damages to the golden girl who cost them big because the couple only released ONE miserly personal photo, leaving no one to profit off it.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Emcee, I already agreed with you above, but you’re so right that it got a lot worse after the wedding. There were so many people expecting to make bank off of that wedding, and no one expected that they’d actually be able pull it off the entire event in private. The fact that they only released that single photo exiting the church angered an entire industry who would have profited handsomely off of JJ’s wedding. And the coverage of her was *always* negative after that.

  25. Kelly says:

    Why are women always at fault? So she she’s a vain, power hungry gold digger now. Pathetic.

    • ohwell says:

      because women hate women.

      • C says:

        A man is the reason she’s dead.

      • Andrea says:

        I sadly agree with this statement @ohwell. I have had so many “friends” who are women who simply cannot be happy for me whether I am in love, accomplished, or simply happy with my life. Misery loves company.

      • C says:

        A lot of women have internalized misogyny. In terms of it applying to CBK, let’s not pretend the catty remarks of other women and shitty journalism were for any reason other than to prop up the male in this equation, JFK Jr.

      • Isabella says:

        Some women hate women. Many do not.

  26. kc says:

    Holy cow — I just read the VF piece. It is SOMETHING – it felt like a hit job to be honest. The one piece in the VF story that I think is true is that JFK Jr wanted to be an actor and Jackie said no.

    • Andrea says:

      Him as an actor would have been delicious.

      • Emcee3 says:

        He did pretty well in his cameo scene on Murphy Brown. 1995, the writing was top notch. Both JFK & CB got some zingers in.

    • Lorelei says:

      I know we’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead and all, but it sounded like his mother had *a lot* of “rules” for him that he felt obligated to follow. About what professions were acceptable to go into (law: yes; acting, no), which women were acceptable to date (actresses: no), etc.

      I mean, FGS, he didn’t start flying lessons until after Jackie passed away in 1994 because allegedly she’d disapproved of the idea, and if he’d started training years earlier, the crash might never had happened.

      (Obviously we all understand why Jackie would have been overprotective, but it sounds like she went somewhat overboard with it, and her strong opinions ended up really limiting his options as he got older.)

      Maybe if she’d laid off a bit and let him do his own thing, e.g. go into acting, (instead of going to law school which I’m pretty sure he admitted he had very little interest in), he would have had a happier life and ending.

  27. QuiteContrary says:

    I’ll read this book, for sure, but I also know we’ll know never the whole truth. They both seemed like spoiled, troubled people.

    But also JFK Jr. was definitely responsible for their deaths. He shouldn’t have been flying that plane alone.

    I did enjoy George magazine, vanity project or not.

    • Jes says:

      I actually know someone who met him a number of times. Told me he was absolutely gorgeous in person but not bright at – all. Helps me understand some of his decisions.

    • Emcee3 says:

      About 8/9yrs ago, I read Carole Radziwill’s book, “What Remains.” It’s an interesting read that weaves her personal story & colorful upstate NY Italian family, her early days as a NYC journalism intern at ABC which led to producing, then on to LA for the Menendez boy’s murder trial where she met another person there to cover the story, her future husband Anthony Radziwill. She presented an interesting perspective about entering his world, meeting her MIL, Lee, Anthony’s cousins, JFK Jr, Caroline & later Carolyn.
      She writes about her close friendship w/ Carolyn, who comes across as multifaceted in the book. Idk if she is Rashomoning a friend who died far too young & much too tragically, but she recounts how Carolyn was a constant source of support when Anthony’s cancer returned in full force. CBK accompanied the couple to all the DC hospital stays when the treatment became aggressive & brutal. She did whatever she could to make sure Anthony was comfortable in that freezing, sterile hospital room & Carole was as well in their shared room at the nearby Marriott or Hyatt.
      John confronting Carolyn w/ a letter never came up in her book. The one thing I remember her writing about the couple was her impression that CBK would probably have liked to remain secretly engaged forever. And once married to John, she realized that the rules the media were setting were not for her.

  28. Thinking says:

    It’s hard for Kennedy men to stay faithful or act generally kind towards the women they’re dating. I don’t know why they bother getting married. Maybe he had to marry for political reasons, but still.

    Her level of beauty and style is unusual/uniquel. She was bound to marry someone “important” or “celebrate.” It’s strange how people dismissed her career at the time, but today’s dream job is probably doing what Carolyn Bessette did for the Calvin Klein fashion house. Everyone on Instagram is trying to do what she was paid to do privately in a well-enough paying career.

  29. Elsa says:

    I absolutely loved both of them. I once payed an OUTRAGEOUS amount of money to have her NYC colorist do my hair. I will say that my hair never looked better! 😂😂😂

    I always told my girls that they could date anyone but a Kennedy. Bad things happen to people in that family.

    • gah says:

      I went on a date with a Kennedy once and my dyed-in-the-wool southern Dem grandma was already getting us married and moving into the White House. my evangelical Rep parents, however, were not excited.

      it was not a good date but I ended up being a consultant to the family for a while. what a ride. you’re a good mom who gave your girls good advice.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Gah, I want SO MUCH more information on this, lol! Who your date was with, what your job was, your opinions on everyone you came into contact with, everything. I wish we could DM on this site!

  30. bisynaptic says:

    “John called all the time,” says [a] Carolyn friend, “[We recorded] an outgoing message on her answering machine.” Anyone who called would get Carolyn saying, “Hey, hon, I’ll be back by seven o’clock, can’t wait to see you!” The idea was that John would hear it and assume she’d moved on. John did—and he called even more. But behind closed doors, Carolyn and John were developing a real kind of intimacy.
    —I’m sorry—what?!? This paragraph makes no sense.

    • Thinking says:

      I was feeling kind of dumb reading that paragraph, not fully understanding it. I’m glad I’m not alone haha. I was questioning my own brain.

      • Emcee3 says:

        Yeah… My 1st impression gave me flashbacks to 2001 & Pres Bush signing his big education initiative, “No Child Left Behind” Act, & that someone did indeed get “left behind”
        A more gracious me would guess / hope that passage is a collection of pull-quotes clumsily assembled.
        Either way, Grade F.

      • bisynaptic says:

        @Emcee, I went back to check the original text. It’s the same, but there is a little more context, beforehand.

    • Lorelei says:

      Yeah, from that story alone, it sounds like marriage was a bad idea for these two.

  31. Thinking says:

    The world was his oyster. So, in a way, it was probably a curse.

    He had a lot in life. People like this always seem to go out young in a spectacularly strange way.

    I can’t believe Carolyn Besssete’s mom lost TWO daughters like this, though.

    • Lorelei says:

      Doesn’t she have one daughter left? For some reason, I thought that the sister who was killed with Carolyn on the plane was a twin. If that’s correct, JFC, I feel so sorry for the twin who is the only surviving child. That must be so, so hard.

  32. martha says:

    This book may be a good beach read, but, the writing is awfully not good, isn’t it?

  33. paintybox says:

    I don’t know if any of the commenters on this post will return to see my comment but I wanted to say: it’s worth watching The Lost Wedding Tapes (on you tube!) if you haven’t seen it. It’s a documentary about John and Carolyn’s secret wedding in Georgia, using real footage recorded by John’s buddy. I had read a lot of the gossip and society articles about them so it was very touching to watch this tribute to their love from their friends and family members and get glimpses of what an incredibly special wedding they had. Whether they both sucked as people or not, or would have even stayed together had they not gone tragically down into the sea, they were certainly two special and highly creative people who were loved and appreciated by their nearest and dearest. A lot of us are Meghan stans and you’ll see that it was a similarly highly anxious and fraught time for Carolyn, being an outsider marrying into American (political) royalty as she did.

    • Lorelei says:

      I saw your comment and thank you! I think I’ve seen short clips over the years, because I remember it being so dark in the church, but I didn’t know there was a full documentary, so thank you for sharing (:

  34. Zoey says:

    If you ever compare excerpts in magazines and the actual books, you’ll find they highlight and rearrange sentences as they like…so before you judge a book…. just saying.

  35. Looper says:

    Wait, who is Beller???
    I think the whole thing stanks… unless there’s confirmation in John’s or Carolyn’s own words (journal, saved messages,etc.) it’s just nasty gossip denigrating two dead people. They were hunted enough while alive.

  36. JFerber says:

    So sad to see this beautiful couple so many years after their deaths. I remember that time very well. I remember President Clinton sent a government plane to look for them and many complained about his action (I thought he was absolutely right to do so). Terrible ending for three young people.

    • Lorelei says:

      @JFerber, I also remember Clinton’s actions being controversial at the time, but I agree with you that he did the right thing.

      (Ironic that many of the people complaining at the time are probably the ones now hoping JJ has been alive this entire time and will emerge to be T*ump’s running mate 🙄)

  37. Linney says:

    I know someone who is related to John’s brother-in-law, Edwin Schlossberg. She had told me that no matter how many times she met Carolyn at various family get togethers, Carolyn would always act as if they had never met and say, “I’m sorry, do I know you?” Then, she would turn and walk away. My friend is one of the sweetest, warmest people you could meet, so I totally believe her. John’s relatives did not like Carolyn at all. However, this does not mean John wasn’t a total jerk. And the way they died was horribly tragic.

  38. MaisieMom says:

    I feel so horribly for her and her sister, and their poor parents. I remember when this happened. I have had a fear of private planes for years. Not ones that are flown by experienced pilots, but the ones flown by people who get their pilots licenses and then think they can handle any situation.

    My college roommate’s father died in his own small plane that he crashed. It also happened to a guy my cousin was dating for a while, to a friend of my father’s when I was a kid. To that baseball player who flew into a building in NYC (luckily no one else was killed). John Junior was incredibly arrogant to think he could fly that thing in New England coastal conditions at night without instruments, and he ended up killing his wife and sister-in-law as well as himself.

    It’s all so sad.

  39. Thinking says:

    According to this book he cheated, but she didn’t.

  40. EenieGoogles says:

    She is my Roman Empire.

    I preordered the book

  41. JDlLS says:

    A quote from the Vanity Fair article (just one of many awful ones): “The man who could have had any woman in the world had chosen as his bride one who was not rich or famous or ennobled by family background or distinguished by any professional accomplishment.” Yikes.

    To be honest, the author was harsh on everyone. What a mean spirited article.

    • Thinking says:

      I remember reading that quote and going whoa.

      I was a little surprised by the critique of her professional accomplishment(s). She was the Director of Public Relations at Calvin Klein. That seemed like a fairly good job to me, and for someone her age. I wasn’t sure if the writer was expecting her to be a judge or a cardiologist, but I don’t think JFK Jr. was attracted to women who spent years in medical school and residency. He had a type, and she was it.

      • Thinking says:

        To add, she was only 28 or so when she met him. She had a very good job for her age in New York City, of all places.

      • MaisieMom says:

        You’re right, that is a good job and a pretty prestigious one in the fashion business. I’m not sure why whoever wrote the article had to be so nasty (and frankly, wrong).

      • Lorelei says:

        His type seemed to be women who were famous for being entertainers in one way or another (Daryl Hannah, SJP, and I think — briefly— Madonna?)— but his mother famously disapproved of him dating celebrities.

  42. blue says:

    I met John a few times at business meetings in the early “George” days. He was always courteous and managed to project humility. He was also physically beautiful, with a charismatic aura. Later, I met him with wife Carolyn at a dinner party in a private home when they were visiting in San Francisco. John was well-mannered and convivial. Carolyn was the opposite, making no effort to hide her boredom. She was icy and rude to everyone. John was attentive to her, hugged her a couple of times, and tried to distract attention from her discourtesy. I saw them both again the next morning when we met unexpectedly while walking around town. John had his arm around her, she was distant towards him. When we stopped briefly to speak, John was warm & friendly. Carolyn was again sour & didn’t make eye contact, much less greet us. Btw, without her makeup that morning, she looked very plain and ordinary – no one you’d notice in a group for anything other than her disdainful manner. If she had any charm, she saved it for occasions of her own choosing.
    Maybe John’s attraction to her was that her behavior was so opposite to that of most people, who showed interest in him? She was the one he couldn’t charm or endear?
    I remember hearing at the time of the fatal flight that Lauren’s late arrival from work caused the departure delay, which should have scrubbed the departure until the next day.