'Bobby and Jackie': Oh, Brother!
The problem with history? It's full of dead people.
Which is precisely the dilemma with C. David Heymann's much-publicized new bio, "Bobby and Jackie," which claims that Jackie Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy had a steamy romance from 1964 to 1968. The author has written a number of unauthorized biographies filled with sensational details that may or may not be true, depending on whom you believe. This book brings together two decades of gossip, historical fact and circumstantial evidence -- catnip for tabloids still fascinated by America's doomed Camelot.
The close friendship between the former first lady and her brother-in-law has been well documented, but Heymann says it became intimate about a year after JFK's assassination and continued until Bobby ran for president. Jackie was the world's most glamorous widow, Bobby her favorite Kennedy, and their affair stayed hidden from public view because sex was considered off-limits by the media in the 1960s. Those closest to Jackie or the Kennedys wouldn't talk, Heymann told us, for fear of alienating the family or tarnishing their legacy. But his book includes plenty of on-the-record interviews:
Here's the rub: They're all dead -- although Heymann says many of his interviews were taped and are available in the Special Collections of the library at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. A woman described as a friend of Bobby's, Mary Harrington, is quoted saying she saw him touch Jackie's bare breast while sunbathing -- but we couldn't locate her to verify the account, and Heymann would not disclose her whereabouts. The author Gore Vidal is quoted in the book as saying, "I suspect that the one person Jackie ever loved ... was Bobby Kennedy" -- but his rep says Vidal "does not remember saying that."
What to believe? Sexual affairs are almost impossible to verify unless there are pictures, and a close friendship can be mistaken for a romance. Then again, JFK's reckless sexual exploits didn't become public until long after his death, although plenty of insiders knew exactly what was going on. Historian Robert Dallek, an authority on American presidents, told us, "I have no information on this and am curious as to what evidence the book brings forward to support such an assertion. I'm inclined to dismiss it as unfounded."
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