By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Jackie said she was incensed upon learning that the magazine was going to pay Manchester a $600,000 fee for the excerpts. She wanted Manchester to donate the money to the John F. Kennedy library, but had forgotten to tie up magazine rights in the original agreement with him.
The fault did not lie with Manchester. Actually, it had been the Kennedys who sought Manchester out to do the book for them. President Kennedy had been pleased with a magazine article Manchester had written about him when he was still alive. Manchester, flattered to be singled out by the Kennedy family, agreed to drop his other writing projects and accepted $35,000 for the writing-and-researching job that took four years. Manchester readily agreed that all the rest of the proceeds would go to the library. After filing a legal action which cost Manchester $100,000 in legal fees to defend, Jackie just as quickly decided to drop her suit and allow the publication of the Look articles.
They were was a phenomenal success by publishing standards. That single issue of Look magazine sold out nationwide within three days. Every one of the 1,800 copies of the magazine placed in binders for the passengers of United Airlines was stolen within 24 hours.
That was all so long ago. Who remembers the days of the front-page stories about the magazine controversy now? Who even remembers Eddie Fisher as being something other than the father of actress Carrie Fisher? In the Sixties, Eddie was a well-known singer. He made the gossip columns by deserting his wife, actress Debbie Reynolds, and running off with Elizabeth Taylor, the Madonna of her day. Not long after, Fisher got his. Taylor fell in love with actor Richard Burton while both were on location filming Cleopatra. Taylor abruptly dumped Fisher. Burton deserted his English wife. Despite the attendant scandal, Cleopatra was both an artistic and financial flop.
@body:Jackie had a sense of history. It was she who, despite her grief, took time to research the funerals of presidents past and determine how to conduct her husband's. It was her idea that she would march in the street behind her husband's casket. She told Manchester that she "refused to ride in a fat black Cadillac" the six blocks from the Capitol to the funeral Mass in Washington, D.C.'s St. Matthew's church. She was a natural at the art of public relations. She understood that the way to control reactions to her life was by preventing others from getting so close they could gain access to her secrets. She blue-penciled Manchester's accounts of her peering into mirrors and looking for wrinkles and that she got her idea for wearing scarves from Grace Kelly. No one ever learned she wore a size 10 shoe or that she had spent $100,000 on clothes during her first year in the White House.
Jackie forced Manchester to cut out accounts of Jack Kennedy strolling around the White House in his shorts.
Manchester, however, was allowed to use the fruits of the hours of conversation for his book. But the actual tapes, reportedly running more than 40 hours, remain sealed by their initial agreement.
"None of the interviews for the book were as affecting as those with Jackie," Manchester later wrote.
"Future historians may be puzzled by the odd clunking noises on the tapes. They were ice cubes. The only way we could get through those long evenings was with the aid of great containers of daiquiris."
Jackie's state of mind can be measured by a single anecdote from The Death of a President.
While preparing to meet the gathering heads of state who had come to the funeral, she called Angie Duke, the White House protocol chief, and asked whether she should bow before Prince Philip.
She was told that the wife of a chief of state never curtsies before anyone.
Manchester recalls: "Turning with a smile like a lost leaf, she said gently, 'Angie, I'm no longer the wife of a chief of state.'"
Manchester told how he placed his tape recorder out of sight so that Jackie would not be inhibited in what she said. But in order to look at the red light which told him that his recorder was still functioning, Manchester had to hunch over repeatedly and peer at it. To camouflage what he was doing, Manchester lighted a cigarette each time he looked for the red light on the recorder. This proved quite taxing to his health.
Before starting the interviews, Manchester had managed to quit smoking for two years. After finishing the interviews with Jackie, it took him another eight years to break the smoking habit again.
Manchester recalls his first meeting with Jackie:
"Mr. Manchester,' she said in that inimitable, breathy voice as she stepped into the living room, closed the sliding doors behind her with a sweeping movement and bowed slightly from the waist. She was wearing a black jersey and yellow stretch pants. She was beaming at me, and I thought how, at 34, with her camellia beauty, she might have been taken for a woman in her mid-20s. My first impression--and it never changed--was that I was in the presence of a very great tragic actress."
@body:One of the prime disagreements following the assassination had been over the choice of a burial site. The Kennedy family wanted the president's body taken to the family grave site in Massachusetts on a funeral train like Lincoln's. They planned to bury him in a previously purchased family plot in Brookline.