Though tales of the glamorous Jackie O. as well as the tragic Kennedy curse stole the cultural spotlight long ago, the true ingenue of the multi-generational diaspora may not be a Kennedy at all.
Jackie’s little sister, Lee Radziwill, sought the spotlight from a young age. And though she did receive her share of fame, to this day she’s incensed by her lifelong qualification as Jackie Kennedy’s sister.
A new biography from Nancy Schoenberger and Vanity Fair’s Sam Kashner, The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jack and Lee, focuses on the complex relationship between the late Jackie, who succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1994, and Lee, 85.
With every revelation in this taut and fascinating work, Jackie’s final will looms in one’s mind — her pointed exclusion of Radziwill from the 38-page document remains somewhat mysterious nearly a quarter of a century later, though The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters supplies a convincing argument as to why Radziwill may have been cut.
In the final pages of the book, what is perhaps the most shocking claim is laid bare: Lee may have had an affair with John F. Kennedy.
Writer Gore Vidal, who shared a stepfather with Lee and Jackie, once wrote that Lee’s first husband, Michael Canfield, confided in him that his then-wife had slept with her brother-in-law.
“There were times when … I think [Lee] went perhaps too far, you know?” Canfield allegedly told Vidal. “Like going to bed with Jack in the room next to mine in the south of France and then … boasting about it.”
As the biography notes, it’s unclear whether Vidal is telling the truth. He bore a complex relationship with both sisters through the years and was known for a proclivity to gossip. However, this would make any resentment Jackie would harbor toward Lee — even in her dying days — logical.