This past Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This 1961 photo, taken of him and his wife at a White House luncheon honoring Prince Rainier lll and Princess Grace of Monaco, is quite interesting. While Grace gazes at the President as if she’s undressing him with her eyes, Rainier suspiciously stares at his wife suggesting that he’s now figuring out yet another secret she kept from him about her conjugal life prior to their marriage. Meanwhile, Jackie Kennedy, always conscious of the persona she portrayed in front of a camera, smiles directly at the photo lens as if completely oblivious to all that’s transpiring around her. Celebrated author Gore Vidal, her friend at the time, assures us in his memoir, Palimpsest, that nothing could have been further from the truth.
Jackie was well aware of all that had transpired between the former movie star and her husband, and her animosity toward Princess Grace, Wendy Leigh assures us in her biography of Monaco’s most famous princess, was the reason why the reception had been downgraded from a black tie affair to a simple 80 minute luncheon. Even had Mrs Kennedy not found out about the former romance on her own, JFK apparently had no problems reminding her. Gore Vidal states that while sitting together watching the television broadcast of Grace and Rainier’s wedding, the then Massachusetts senator blurted out in front of his wife “, I could have married her!” Furthermore, back in 1953 while vacationing in the south of France and about to return to the United States to plight his troth with Jacqueline Bouvier, Kennedy met and fell instantly in love, or so he told her, with a Swedish aristocrat named Gunilla von Post. In her memoir concerning their on again/off again affair entitled Love, Jack, she states that he told her the night they met that he’d only fallen in love with one other woman in his life, and her name was Grace Kelly.
Details concerning their romance still remain sketchy. In True Grace, The Story of an American Princess, Wendy Leigh states that both their fathers, as somewhat self made Irish American multi-millionaires, were friends, and their children socialized occasionally while growing up. By the early Fifties a romance had flared up between Jack and Grace that was so intense that they actually wished to marry. Jack’s father, unfortunately, felt that Grace was too ‘Hollywood’ for his son’s burgeoning political career and talked JFK out of it. This was hardly the first time Joe Kennedy had talked his oldest surviving son out of a potentially foolish marriage.
Jack, however, retained his flame for Grace, and by 1954 while he was recovering from back surgery in New York, his new wife arranged for the movie star to pay him a hospital visit. Needless to write, Jackie had no idea at that time that they’d had a previous relationship. Had she known, she probably would have nixed the idea.
Stories concerning what transpired between Jack and Grace in that hospital room vary to this day. While all of their biographers are in agreement that Grace arrived dressed as a nurse, there is at least one account, described by veteran gossip columnist Darwin Porter, stating that Grace performed fellatio on her favorite patient. Needless to write, this is impossible to verify, but certainly would have been in keeping with their characters.They were both passionate, complex people and Grace’s sexual escapades with her mostly older, married leading men are a matter of incontestable historical record.
Jackie, however, would have her opportunity for revenge. In 1966, while both the presidential widow and Princess Grace were guests at the Red Cross Ball in Seville, Spain, Jackie, who by then was the world’s most famous and glamorous woman, made it a point to outshine Grace, who had recently given birth to Princess Stephanie. The photo of the two of them tells its own story. While a rail thin Jackie looked resplendent in an Oleg Cassini gown with a blue sash, a bloated, color drained and obviously embarrassed Princess Grace poses awkwardly next to her. Jackie looks confidently on with a malevolently self satisfied smirk on her face. Alls well that ends well!