A product of her times. Or simply another variant on the white liberal Eastern establishment, make that neo-liberal and what appears to be appallingly ethno-centric and racist, filled with any number of twisted ideas as a defense mechanism in guarding her own status and distinction. Not surprisingly, the flip side of Marilyn Monroe. Matrimony and the mistress with both at the higher reaches of the libidinous scale. But what was the specific dynamic of the era; on the cusp of Betty Friedan, there was something deeper at work that was neither Mad Men or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. JFK’s death seemed both to accelerate social dynamics and repress them simultaneously…
Kennedy’s physical voice, heard this week when ABC in the US broadcast excerpts from the recordings, is surprisingly unfamiliar – curiously, or perhaps not so curiously, it shares a breathy quality with the most famous of Jack Kennedy’s many mistresses, Marilyn Monroe. Her tapes have created such a stir because her status never relied on her saying anything in particular. Now she has said something, and it frequently contradicts the projections that seemed to define her over the decades….
Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Well, you must tell me, baby
How your head feels under somethin’ like that
Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Well, you look so pretty in it
Honey, can I jump on it sometime?
Yes, I just wanna see
If it’s really that expensive kind
You know it balances on your head
Just like a mattress balances
On a bottle of wine
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat… ( Bob Dylan )
She was not very keen at this period, for instance, on Martin Luther King – she claimed that he was drunk at her husband’s funeral and, when in Washington DC for the Freedom March that he organised an orgy of men and women at his hotel. “I just can’t see a photograph of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible,” she says. …
At the same time as the dallyings of JFK, actress Lee Remick was making an impact in some queer roles, ambiguous. An Arkansas child-bride- drum majorette, a Faulknerian baggage stirring up lust in Mississippi, a dance-hall hostess, the not-unhappy victim of rape, and a wild hoyden who blooms with sensual yearning for a Tennessee Valley Authority agent. In all these early films, she was required to comport herself as a girl of somewhat easy ways, if not quite a tart, than an enfant sexuelle with swivel hips and parted lips.
…Perhaps only in an age where power had begun to merge with spectacle could the role of a First Lady take on such significance in the collective life of dreams. Did anyone much, at the time or subsequently, give any thought to Lucretia Garfield, the wife of the 1881 President James Garfield? But probably since Eleanor Roosevelt, the First
Jackie Kennedy, who, as a Bouvier, came from a rich debutante background, was steeped in upper-crust values of elegance, understated opulence and public service. In her case, the public service aspects were chiefly cultural….
The composite image of Remick was wickedly distorted yet intriguing. She carried a sense of inbuilt tension with the promise of sudden release that belied her upwardly mobile, bourgeois- not quite old elite- stage managed, surgically enhanced, background. It was in Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder in 1959 that Remick made her most noticeable mark to that point. As the victim of a rape which triggers a murder and the principal witness at the subsequent trial, she was exact and startling. With her oscillating gait, the actress employed her sly touch in small matters. To a tawdry role she brought inherent grace and marshaled a calm delivery with an unpredictable change of pace: her slow stare alternately titillating and alarming the defense attorney, James Stewart, and her demure parries deflecting the rattlesnake thrusts of the prosecutor.
…Her clothes – personal elegance and public style tended to merge in the case of Kennedy – were extraordinarily distinguished, even by the standards of that beautifully dressed age, and she is said to have spent nearly $50,000 over her husband’s presidential salary in his first year on her wardrobe.
Her most spectacular cultural coup, perhaps, was persuading Malraux, the French minister of culture, to lend America the Mona Lisa – she did it on a state visit to Paris, of which her husband amusedly remarked, “I am the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris.” …
…Jackie Kennedy, as the most glamorous and authentically iconic of the breed, has been transformed into art of both high and low varieties. She has been played by Katie Holmes in a terrible recent mini-series, The Kennedys. She has also been speculatively employed as an erotic stage property in one of the most brilliant of J G Ballard’s celebrity-automobile fantasies, Plan for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy. She is endlessly referred to by hopeful fashion designers and alluded to in television shows – Marge Simpson’s maiden name is Bouvier, it will be recalled…. Read More:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8762735/Jackie-Kennedy-Onassis-finds-a-voice.html
All this iconic status is vulnerable, or so it would seem, to the despoiling and damage of time and revelation – Jack’s many affairs and medical problems are now followed by Jackie’s, apparently, unacceptable opinions as recorded by Schlesinger. But, in fact, Jackie Kennedy’s image and iconic status don’t depend on the flawless surface. It has been modulated, over the years, by one unworthy development after another, like the bloodstains on the pink Chanel suit. … ( Telegraph )
In Elia Kazan’s Wild River, it was a performance of passion and restraint, in this sometimes rough, sometimes tender story of an old woman and an untamed granddaughter defending their ramshackle home against the encroaching commonweal of the T.V.A. This was followed by a seamy background in an adaptation of a Faulkner novel. Here is is a much tarnished heroine, a victim of ravishment, an addict of drugs; the archetypal southern Gothic cathedral of female ruin. After Billy Wilder’s Days of Wine and Roses all the potential for the next stage seemed to dissipate in the wake of November 22, 1963.
Despite her elegance, early in her career, 20th Century Fox publicity was trying to build Lee up as “America’s answer to Brigitte Bardot.” According to an interview with Joe Hyams of the New York Tribune, Lee was not happy with the comparison saying, “anyone who’d want to build me up as a sex siren would have to be crazy.” She added, “I’m an actress and a woman and you can’t classify me with your interview number 4, nor can you dispose of me by comparing me to Brigitte Bardot or Grace Kelly.” At the end of the interview, she smiled “you can compare me with Greta Garbo, I have big feet too.” Read More:http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/lee-remick-an-appreciation/