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article imageOp-Ed: New book on Jackie's memoirs may reveal more but mystique endures

By Jonathan Farrell     Sep 26, 2011 in Lifestyle
San Francisco - While the latest memoirs of the famous First Lady has received some criticism upon its release, Jackie Kennedy Onasis seems to remain the woman who as First Lady had the most powerful and dramatic impact upon the White House.
Days before the most recent book about the former First Lady Jackie Bouvier Kennedy was released, this reporter, happened to find a book at our local library here in San Francisco by fashion designer Oleg Cassini. His account of his experience working with Jackie Kennedy was detailed in the book, called "A Thousand Days of Magic" published by Rizzoli Publications, Inc. in 1995 a year after her death, this reporter could sense his continued fascination and devotion to her.
Which makes one wonder, what was or is that magic or as some called the "Jackie mystique" that still holds the public eye? Even after she remarried in an effort to gain some autonomy from the JFK legacy, as author Kathleen Tracy notes, in her book, "The Kennedy Mystique" Jackie was still linked to it.
Yet in some ways perhaps she was separate from the Kennedy legacy. It is interesting that no matter what surname she used, be it Kennedy, Onasis, Templeton or even her maiden name of Bouvier, she was always known as "Jackie" to the public.
Her celebrity did not diminish even later in life, it endured and at times seem to grow even more legendary. Numerous photos, books, commentary and news articles have been written about her. And, no doubt will continue as fascination not only with her but also the times she lived in continue. This week ABC Network just premiered a new series called PanAm and gives witness it seems to the fact that people still are fascinated by the "Camelot Era" one defined and promoted by JFK himself, with Jackie's help for sure.
In Cassini's book, he features all of the fashions he created, especially for Jackie as First Lady. Each design was to highlight and feature Jackie's role which made a tremendous impact upon the social and political scene, not only in Washington DC but the upon the nation and of course the world.
It is often hard to define exactly what is it that beckons people to be so enamoured of a person that it is as if that person is still among us. Or, to pin-point what fascinates people so to reflect so enthusiastically on a time in the past. The speculations and examinations of the Camelot Era and of JFK are endless. In1963 when this reporter was born, the nation and the world was so much different. It has been said in news reports about the new Jackie memoirs that her grandchildren thought the ideas expressed about being a wife and mother were antiquated.
This reporter tried to contact historian and Kennedy biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin for comment. But representatives said she is busy trying to meet a deadline for a soon to be released publication. Yet Goodwin did tell the Associated Press back in 2010 (when daughter Caroline announced that she would have the interviews released in publication) that "the interviews might be as close as we’ll ever get to a memoir from the late first lady."
As to that special "something" that Jackie "mystique" neither Goodwin or her representatives would respond to this reporter directly for this article. Yet, many people have pondered and wondered "what was it, that "mystique?" Or was it simply the times?
Yet when looking back upon those times and even the years that followed, there is tremendous contrast. Even when only examining the brief decade that was the 1960's itself. In January of 1963 the nation was at the peak of its powers, wealth and world influence. Yet only five years later, in 1968, the nation and the world had changed drastically. Anyone who is a student or scholar of American history can see that, especially in the fashions.
Which by the way, is the first thing that people notice about any era, place or time. In terms of fashion and style Jackie Kennedy was a star. Maybe it was a combination of many things; and then again, it might be that it was a constellation of many people, events and such aligning together to create that "Camelot Era" that "magic" as many like Cassini have called it.
In the opinion of author Susan Cheever, the recent release of the Jackie interview tapes is too much information. "We have brought our Gods down to earth these days; these interviews might make us wish we hadn’t."
Yet, unfortunately we are in a new era of "information" and it seems that the public is eager for lots of information, even trivial, and so maybe for this reason too in an odd way for our times, the "mystique" of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onasis, endures.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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