Life Without Jackie

updated 05/29/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/29/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

THE OVERCAST SKY WAS TYPICAL of Boston's late-arriving spring, and inside the Kennedy Library the tableau for the sixth presentation of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award seemed as it always had. On the dais sat Sen. Edward Kennedy, 63, and JFK's children, John F. Kennedy Jr., 34, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, 37. The scene lacked just one familiar person: Jackie.

It has now been a year since Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis died, at 64, of cancer in her New York City apartment. And the May 8 ceremony, imbued with memories of her first husband and the spirit of Camelot, brought her absence sharply to mind. Her son rose to speak, citing the past five recipients of an award that, he said, "reminds all citizens that politics remains an honorable profession." When Caroline presented former Oklahoma Rep. Mike Synar with the award—a sterling Tiffany lantern designed by her artist husband, Edwin, 49—she beckoned with Jackie-ish savvy for John to join her. At that moment it seemed another torch had been passed: the custodianship of the JFK legacy.

In the public consciousness, the Jackie legend has only grown larger over the past year. During recent months, New York City has renamed both the Central Park Reservoir and a Manhattan high school in her honor. Her image is deconstructed in the new book Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon, by Yale English professor Wayne Koestenbaum. And average attendance for "A Tour Named Jackie," a $10, 2-hour guided walking excursion through Onassis's Upper East Side neighborhood, has doubled since it was revived last July after a hiatus at the time of her illness. "It has a whole new audience now," says tour operator Sam Stafford. "People say they come to pay their last respects."

But for those who lived in Jackie's private world, especially her children and her companion in her last years, financier Maurice Tempelsman, 65, time hasn't stilled the ripples of her passing. For John and Caroline, the months have been spent settling Jackie's estimated $200 million estate—a task both difficult and sad. The antique French and English furnishings of Onassis's Fifth Avenue apartment had to be sorted for an auction Sotheby's is expected to hold later this year. One parcel won't go on the block: Jackie's jewels. Recently, Caroline appeared at the opening of the American Ballet Theatre season in Manhattan wearing a pair of diamond earrings, among her mother's favorites. Most of the gems, including a 40-carat diamond ring given to Jackie by Aristotle Onassis, reportedly will be sold privately through friends of Tempelsman, a diamond investor.

There have been painful moments for the children. In January the Fifth Avenue apartment was sold to billionaire energy executive David Koch, 54, for $9.5 million. "She had great taste; it was very personalized and filled with books everywhere," says Koch, who adds that he won't live there for at least a year. "I want to upgrade it and make it my style." This spring, as movers emptied the 15-room apartment, John Jr. was seen watching quietly from across the street, accompanied by his girlfriend Carolyn Bessette, publicity director for Calvin Klein. Of John and Caroline's larger inheritance—the family name—Caroline seems to be particularly mindful. Though a friend says the Schlossbergs have done "less entertaining" in their Manhattan apartment since the deaths of Jackie and, last January, Caroline's grandmother Rose Kennedy, Caroline has stepped into her mother's role as a cultural patron. This February she took over Jackie's job as honorary chairwoman of the American Ballet Theatre—listing herself on correspondence as Caroline B. Kennedy (the B is for Bouvier). Between times with her three children, Rose, 6, Tatiana, 5, and Jack, 2, Caroline has been busy cowriting her second book, The Right to Privacy, a constitutional study to be published this fall.

Meanwhile, John Jr. is set to make his own splash in publishing. George, the political-personality magazine conceived by Kennedy and his friend, marketing executive Michael Berman, 37, is scheduled to appear in September—a launch made possible by some $25 million in backing from French-owned Hachette Filipacchi Magazines. "Instead of writing about the highest-grossing film, we'll write about the best campaign ad," Kennedy told TIME. Meanwhile, editor-in-chief Kennedy is quickly learning the media ropes. "It has dawned on him what a huge undertaking this is," a George contributor says of Kennedy. "He's a charming, sweet guy, but he's all business about this. They have lots of meetings."

Life has gone on for Jackie's other intimates as well. Tempelsman has been seen squiring a new companion, Inmaculada de Habsburgo Lorena, a friend of Spain's royal family, to social functions. Meanwhile, Jackie's sister Lee Radziwill, 62, who works as a consultant to couturier Giorgio Armani, may be sorting out mixed feelings about her sibling. In a new biography, In Her Sister's Shadow, author Diana DuBois writes that the Bouvier daughters "barely spoke" after the 1970s.

An area in which Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's grace and strength still find poignant expression is at her simple grave in Arlington National Cemetery, near the eternal flame marking President Kennedy's grave. On a recent afternoon, Lorena Arroyos, 16, an El Paso high school student, turned teary-eyed at the sight of the two matching slate slabs. "At JFK's funeral, Jackie didn't cry. She was strong for everyone," said Arroyos. "They weren't together very long in life. At least they're together now."

GREGORY CERIO
SABRINA McFARLAND and ALLISON LYNN in New York City, ALICIA BROOKS in Arlington and STEPHEN SAWICKI in Boston

Share this story:

Your reaction:

advertisement

From Our Partners

From Our Partners