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Celebrity Lunch at the Jockey Club

Tim Smith, a frequent contributor to the Obituaries section, has written this Sunday's Local Life feature about Jacques Vivien, maitre d' of the Jockey Club during the Kennedy years. He writes:

When Jacques Vivien presided over the dining floor of the Jockey Club at the Fairfax Hotel, it was the dining hub for Washington's rich, famous and wealthy. One could find movie stars, presidents and business moguls among its tables eating fine French cuisine.

One day in January 1964, the widowed former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy came with Marlon Brando, her sister Lee Radziwill and Brando's business manager. News of the lunch got out. Just months after John Kennedy's assassination and she was possibly on a date.

The four were swamped by eager photographers and reporters. When they entered the restaurant, Mr. Vivien sat them in the corner. Spotting a photographer attempting to sneak a photo of the diners, Mr. Vivien lowered the lighting to upset the camera's exposure.

After the meal, Mr. Vivien was still suspicious that the photographer was lingering, so he escorted the diners out the back door. When the photographer leapt from behind a garbage can, Mr. Vivien slammed the door shut to prevent a photo from being taken of Mrs. Kennedy and Brando.

The following weekend, after the Kennedy-Brando luncheon, Mr. Vivien had to turn down nearly 500 reservation requests. He went on to start Georgetown's first French specialty restaurant and set off a local discothèque trend. You can read his story in Sunday's Washington Post.

By Matt Schudel  |  May 30, 2010; 5:35 AM ET
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