Picks and Pans Review: Jackie, Ethel, Joan
by J. Randy Taraborrelli
This book about the wives of Kennedy rogues Jack, Bobby and Ted reads like Valley of the Dolls goes to Washington. Booze, pills, bitchy rivalries—it's all here in this bloated but fun read by celebrity biographer Taraborrelli.
Based on interviews (though not with the wives) and previously published material on the Kennedys, the author—dishy tone aside—provides surprisingly three-dimensional portraits of queenly Jackie, sharp-tongued Ethel, sensitive alcoholic Joan and their complex relationships with one another. (Ethel's jealous sniping at Jackie is a hoot.) While the book upholds old rumors, such as Ethel's affair with singer Andy Williams, it leaves a question mark surrounding alleged flings between Jackie and Bobby and Bobby and Marilyn Monroe. (The book was completed, of course, well before the latest family imbroglio—the Jan. 19 arrest of Ethel's nephew Michael Skakel, 39, who is charged with the 1975 murder of his 15-year-old Greenwich, Conn., neighbor Martha Moxley.)
Though none of the cheating Kennedy men was any bargain as a husband, it's Joan—if the long list of Teddy's cruelties here is to be believed—who got the rawest deal. After she campaigned for his Senate reelection in 1964 as he recuperated from a plane crash, Teddy's way of saying thanks was to head directly from the hospital into the arms of a mistress. (Warner, $25.95)
Bottom Line: Gossipy but sympathetic portrayal