Rev­er­en­tial re­quiem for Amer­i­can queen

Jac­que­line Kennedy Onas­sis 8.30pm, Bio

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Greg Cal­laghan

‘‘ 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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.