Jackie Kennedy was the epitome of a dutiful politician's wife—she quietly stood by her presidential husband's side, always looking prim, proper and totally put-together. In fact, she set the standard as a First Lady fashion icon. (Hilary kind of broke that standard, but it looks like Michelle is bringing it back). And after JFK was shot in 1963, Jackie O remained relatively quiet while she grieved.
But now, eight and a half hours of recordings from seven interviews with Jackie Kennedy are set to be released on Wednesday. The interviews take place four months after her husband's November 22, 1963 assassination. The New York Times has published excerpts from the recordings, and in them, Mrs. Kennedy discusses everything from her husband's death to the Cuban Missle Crisis.
"Once I asked him—I think this is rather touching—if he could have one wish, what would it be?" Kennedy explains. "In other words, you know, looking back on his life, and he said, 'I wish I had more good times.' "
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Americans were terrified there'd be an attack from Russia, JFK wanted to send his wife and children away, out of fear of their safety.
"If anything happens, we're all going to stay right here with you," Jackie says she told her husband. "I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do, too – than live without you."
And Jackie also dishes about what she thinks of political figures around the world. She called French president Charles DeGaulle an "egomaniac," and the future prime minister of India Indira Gandi: "a real prune—bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman." And she called Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a "phony" for allegedly cheating on his wife. Ouch!
Her own husband, who was accused of cheating on Jackie with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, remains nothing but an idol in her eyes, and she never mentions his infidelities. She says her marriage was "rather terribly Victorian or Asiatic." She wanted to create "a climate of affection and comfort and détente."
The audio has been kept private by the Kennedy Library up until now. But they're being released along with a book titled Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.
The former first lady's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, says the book and transcripts show a different side of Jackie O:
People "don't always appreciate her intellectual curiosity," Caroline says, "her sense of the ridiculous, her sense of adventure, or her unerring sense of what was right."