The Strange, Toxic Friendship of Truman Capote, Lee Radziwill, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis

In 1962, Truman Capote sat down with Lee Radziwill for an intimate chat over lunch in an upscale Manhattan restaurant. Since coming from a small city in Alabama a long time earlier, the diminutive homosexual writer had carved out a novel spot in New York society: a scathingly sharp, at all times entertaining visitor whose allure opened the doorways to essentially the most unique circles . . . and whose eyes and ears have been at all times open and observing what he noticed there. He preferred nothing higher than boring into an individual’s life and exploring their most personal secrets and techniques.

Lee had by no means talked with Truman like this earlier than, and she or he had each motive to be suspicious. Her older sister, Jackie, was the overwhelmingly in style First Girl, an iconic determine who was altering the best way Individuals thought of gown, décor, and tradition. If Jackie had been lunching with them, there would most likely have been a crowd on the street and a frisson of pleasure inside this privileged sanctuary.

Lee had a gilded way of life. She was married to Stanislaw Radziwill, a Polish prince who had left his place of birth, and she or he lived in two grand properties in England—and later a serious house in Manhattan too. Together with her sister within the White Home, she needed to be cautious how she acted, what she stated, and to whom she stated it. She will need to have identified that Truman was an notorious gossip.

It was a measure of the emotional ache Lee was struggling that, regardless of Truman’s repute, she informed him essentially the most painful secret of her life: she was wildly jealous of Jackie. It was pure that Lee can be considerably covetous of a sister who was the First Girl and essentially the most admired girl on the earth, however her emotions went far past an comprehensible or controllable emotion. She was consumed with jealousy. It was all she may take into consideration, all she may speak about. Her sister had carried out nothing fallacious, however that didn’t matter. Jackie had transcended Lee in a fashion that, in Lee’s eyes, was destroying her life. She had what nearly anybody would say was the whole lot—greater than the whole lot—but she was so dissatisfied, so empty, so misplaced.

After the lunch, Truman did what Lee ought to have anticipated him to do. He wrote his pal Cecil Beaton and informed him all about it: “Had lunch in the future with a brand new pal Princess Lee (My God, how jealous she is of Jackie: I by no means knew); perceive her marriage is all however finito.”

Together with her splendid properties, her son, Anthony, born 4 and a half months after the wedding, her daughter, Anna Christina, or Tina, born three months untimely in 1960, and her loving husband, Lee had a seemingly picture-perfect life. However she had grown bored with Stas and, beginning in 1961, she started spending extra time in the USA.

Greek delivery magnate Aristotle Onassis entertains Princess Lee Radziwill throughout a reception on the Athens Hilton, seventh September 1963.{Photograph} by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Photographs.

There’s a clause within the U.S. Structure banning inherited titles. But Individuals are obsessive about royalty, even when the pedigree behind them is shaky at finest. Stas had given up his title when he fled Poland, however as Lee moved round New York Metropolis and Washington, D.C., she was referred to as “Princess Radziwill.” Even The New York Occasions purchased into it. In November 1961, America’s paper of file did a narrative on Lee headlined “Princess Lee Radziwill Provides Attraction to Any Setting.” The story referred to her as a princess many times, and in that manner, it was a pure delight. However the story was there for just one motive: Lee’s brother-in-law was now president of the USA and her sister was First Girl.

Lee beloved consideration and publicity that sanctified her value, however for the remainder of her life, Jackie would at all times be lurking there someplace. Throughout a cocktail party at Buckingham Palace that Queen Elizabeth gave for the President and Mrs. Kennedy, Prince Philip stated to Lee, “You’re similar to me—it’s important to stroll three steps behind.”

Lee’s marriage to Stas had been like Fourth of July fireworks, flashes within the evening after which nothing however darkness. Painfully, it had turned out that Stas was not the prince charming of Lee’s childhood goals, however moderately an ageing, quirky man who took excess of he gave. Though Lee nonetheless bore his title, she had moved on and located a brand new lover, Aristotle Onassis — a person with animal vitality and a fantastic fortune. Not a lot self-educated as uneducated, there was a uncooked immediacy to the person that was thrilling and harmful. | The Unusual, Poisonous Friendship of Truman Capote, Lee Radziwill, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis


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