Reverential requiem for American queen
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 8.30pm, Bio
‘‘ ALL men are rats,’’ John ‘‘ Black Jack’’ Bouvier dutifully warned his daughter Jacqueline when she was a teenager. The swaggering, darkly handsome stockbroker, an inveterate womaniser, understood the hormonal beat of men only too well and was desperate to protect his daughter from the cads. Like most daddy’s girls, the breathy, patrician Jackie, with the big intelligent eyes and mouth as wide as the Mississippi, went on to marry a man similar to the father she once described as ‘‘ a devastating figure’’.
As this documentary shows, Jackie’s father issues became a theme of her life, not only in her marriage to the man who would become the 35th president of the US but in the two men who followed: Aristotle Onassis and Maurice Tempelsman.
Jackie was the youngest American first lady of the 20th century, one whose poise and beauty, not to mention command of foreign languages, captivated crusty, cynical old men such as Charles de Gaulle and Nikita Khrushchev.
Despite her sophistication, however, she was in truth far more interested in literature, music and fashion than in politics. The machinations of Washington, DC, she complained to friends, made her eyes glaze over.
Style or no style, it’s highly doubtful Jackie would have attained her legendary status had her husband not been shot down in his prime. At the funeral procession on November 25, 1963, the then 34- year- old walked straight and proud, her face partly masked by a flowing black veil. When her little boy saluted the flagdraped coffin as it passed by, viewers the world over choked on the excru- ciating pain of it all. No one should be expected to stay in mourning indefinitely, however, or be a slave to the public’s expectations. ‘‘ Better to fall off the pedestal,’’ Jackie once told a friend, ‘‘ than freeze to death there.’’
The assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968 convinced Jackie all Kennedys were moving targets, so she married a man who could take her away from it all: the 62- year- old Greek billionaire Aristotle ‘‘ Ari’’ Onassis. After the shipping magnate died in 1975, Jackie returned to a nation that had forgiven her, reassuming the mantle of the Kennedy legend until her death in 1994.
Hillary Clinton, Gore Vidal, Jackie’s ultra- competitive sister Lee Radziwill Ross and a handful of other luminaries are brought forward tonight for their reflections.
Although the show doesn’t bring anything new to the television screen, it offers an insightful and reverential treatment of the woman they call America’s queen. Interesting revelations about Jackie will no doubt emerge in 2067, when the embargo is lifted on her taped conversations in the years after JFK’s assassination.
Daddy’s girl: The widowed Jackie Kennedy in 1965