It Seems Like Yesterday

In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy said he was “the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to London and Paris,” her star status rose another notch. She was young and beautiful and could speak French when in Paris. President Charles de Gaulle was captivated by her—as was the entire world.

The next year, in 1962, Mrs. Kennedy returned to London for a visit and is shown here laughing in the doorway of the Belgravia home of her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill. Mrs. Kennedy was Fleet Street’s most important story. She was glamorous and modern, and everyone wanted to see photographs of her and know what she was doing at every moment.

Lee Radziwill and Jacqueline Kennedy in the doorway of Radziwill’s London home, 1962.

She was married to the president of the United States, and her sister was married to a prince. What more could Fleet Street want? The public was completely in awe. To say she was a tremendous asset to her husband is a vast understatement.

Years ago, when I asked the famed columnist and my friend, Liz Smith, what she remembered most about Jackie, she told me, “Re-reading all the recent books about the Kennedy years, I am struck once again by what an influence Jackie had on her adoring and, even later, speculative public. Jackie was in a class by herself. When Harry Benson first photographed her in London in 1961, I loved her from afar. He caught her essence, right up through Caroline’s wedding and after. When I finally met her, she was ever intellectually intrigued, adoring gossip and fun and living through the tragedy that she tried so hard to overcome. I think it amused Jackie to be seen with a gossip columnist. She liked to make waves, and she both loved and loathed being photographed. Harry always knew when he had a real star, and she was a real star for the ages.”

Thank you, Liz. That says it all.