03 April 2009

Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield Radziwill Ross aka “Lee”

 

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Caroline Lee Bouvier, here with her older sister Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.   While Jackie looked exactly like her namesake and father  John Vernou “Black Jack” Bouvier, III,   her baby sister Lee resembled her mother Janet Norton Lee Bouvier Auchincloss.  Both girls possess stunningly wide set eyes that are the basis for their great beauty.

 

This month, Elle Decor magazine features the two cosmopolitan apartments of Lee Radziwill, baby sister to one of the world’s most famous woman, Jacqueline Onassis.   Radziwill’s two flats, one in New York and the other in Paris, were a surprise.  Pretty and ultra feminine with touches of pink and walls of toile, the homes seem almost simple compared to the Renzo Mongiardino masterpieces Radziwill once lived in.    Now in her 70s and single, Radziwill leads a quiet life escaping to Paris when the stresses of New York get too much.  Paris’ blooming chestnut trees are another irresistible attraction.  The 90s were particularly cruel to Radziwill, when, first she lost her sister to cancer, and then her nephew John Kennedy and his wife died in a plane crash just three weeks before  Radziwill’s son Anthony also succumbed to cancer.    And if that wasn’t enough, her marriage to director Herbert Ross ended in divorce shortly before he too died in 2001.   In the face of all these losses, how did Radziwill respond?   She wrote a book, part-diary, part-scrapbook, called Happy Times where she reminisces about all the wonderful, great family events – the vacations, the holidays – her family had shared.   There is not one negative word in the memoir, no back-stabbing, no settling of scores.   Instead the book is written with grace and class and shows a great strength.

 

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Four years younger than Jackie, Lee writes that she was attracted to the sea, while Jackie, the athletic one, was attracted to horses.   They both attended boarding school and after Lee graduated, the two girls went off to Europe together, the first of many great adventures they would share.   Jackie of course married the future president John Kennedy while Lee entered into a short marriage that ended in divorce a few years later.   In defense of her early ill-fated match, Radziwill says girls married young back then just to get their own apartment, something their mothers would never allow them to do while still single.  When time came to marry her second husband, the older, debonair Polish prince, Stanislaw Radziwill, they both  obtained annulments for their first marriage, though the Prince was actually on his second!   Two children soon followed, a boy Anthony and a girl Christina who perfectly matched their first cousins Caroline and John Kennedy.  Caroline was, in fact, named for her aunt – Caroline Lee Bouvier Radziwill - who in turn was named for her great-grandmother, Caroline Ewing Bouvier.   The four cousins - Caroline and John and Anthony and Tina - became life-long best friends, just as their mothers were.  When Jackie became First Lady, her most trusted confidant was her sister, and together they traveled on both state visits and private vacations.   

 

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No. 4 Buckingham Place, the London townhouse of Lee and Stas Radziwill

 

The Radziwills had two homes in England, one, shown here was at No. 4 Buckingham Place, a stone’s throw from where the Queen lived.   Jackie sought refuge in England from the press and here she is seen leaving for lunch with Queen Elizabeth – ironically with the press in hot pursuit.  The Radziwills’ other house in the country afforded the family more privacy.  Both houses were decorated by Renzo Mongiardino who is considered by those in the business as one of the finest interior designers who ever lived.   A brilliant man, romantic and well versed in history, his career started in set design.    After Mongiardino worked his magic for the Radziwills, their two houses were thought by many to be the two prettiest in England.    Radziwill has been quoted as saying she had Mongiardino at “his best.”   Now deceased, Mongiardino’s influence can still be seen  in work created by today’s designers.

 

 

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The great British photographer Cecil Beaton – a close friend of Lee’s took this picture of her in the early 60’s at her London home. 

 

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Rare pictures of the First Lady in London after she and her sister visited India.  On her left is her courtier Oleg Cassini hamming it up with medals she brought back from the trip.   These photos are purported to have been taken in Radziwill’s London home,  pre Renzo.  Since this is 1961, this may show how the Radziwills lived while waiting for the new decor which was installed in 1965.   Looking closely at the fireplace above, it does seem to match the fireplace in the Mongiardino drawing room.   Interesting to imagine that this rather bland French room is the same space as the spectacular Renzo ' Turquerie Room.'

 

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The First Lady and Cecil Beaton, the photographer. 

 

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Princess Lee Radziwill on the left, and the First Lady – learning how to do the twist! 

 

 

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In London, at #4 Buckingham Place – the famous drawing room by Renzo .  He used yards and yards of hand-blocked cotton fabric from India.  The room became synonymous with Renzo, and those who could, created their own version of the Turkish  Room. 

 

 

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Lee Radziwill in the 'Turquerie Room' of her London home, leaning over a stone lion's head statue.

 

 

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This picture could hold a clue to where the “Turquerie Room” idea really came from.   This is a picture of Jackie Kennedy in her Georgetown house before she was First Lady.    Her day bed is awfully similar to what her younger sister created five years later.

 

 

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Turville.

 

Besides the London house, Lee and Stas shared a country home, Turville, a 17th century Queen Anne in Oxfordshire.   Here is a picture of the cobblestone courtyard around which all the buildings faced, creating its own picturesque village.  The buildings seen are actually guest houses  - the main house is not really visible here.  At the center of the  courtyard was a large beech tree with a bench around it for mounting horses.   Off to the side of the courtyard was a tennis court and there was both a kitchen and rose garden that was hidden behind peach walls.    The walkways were lined with espaliered pear trees that were heavenly when they bloomed in the spring.   There was another building, an indoor pool house which was built to resemble the underside of a boat.    The story of this house fascinates me and I wish there was a book that documented it, all the changes and additions, and all the outbuildings.  But, alas, there wasn’t a market for such stories back in the 60s.   The designer John Stefanidis lived in a country house, Cock Crow, that looked very similar to this – outbuildings that connected around a main house and a courtyard.  Thankfully, he DID document the creation of his country house in the book Living Through Design, which remains one of my all time favorite design books.     An interesting factoid, both Radziwill’s and Stefanidis’ country houses had a ha-ha.    I’m not entirely sure what a ha-ha is – some kind of landscaping boundary, but whatever a “ha-ha” is they both share it!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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Renzo Mongiardino was the designer for Turville and the dining room is considered the most spectacular room in the house.  In the New York Times, Radziwill describes the room:  ''On the walls, Mongiardino applied Sicilian scarves printed with flowers on a background of blue. Then, over the scarves, his friend Lila de Nobili painted more flowers and, in oval shapes, portraits of Christina and her favorite animals, which included a lot of birds, and for Anthony's portrait there were dogs and horses. It sounds cute, but it wasn't. It had lots of atmosphere. I don't like dining rooms. I think they have too much structure and are too formal. I thought this was magical. Lila de Nobili thought the room had a very Turgenev feeling.''

 

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Close up of Lila de Nobili’s paintings over the scarves.   

 

 

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The entrance hall to Turville had a wonderful fireplace.   Radziwill wanted a house filled with flowers and Mongiardino obliged with walls lined with floral fabrics and paper.

 

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The room between the living room and library was another floral filled space that housed birds and parrots. 

  

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Another view of the bird room with a wonderful set of botanicals that moved with Radziwill throughout the years.  What an arrangement of flowers!   I wonder if they always had flowers like this in the house or were they brought in just for the photographer?

  

 

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The interior designer Mark Hampton created this water color of  Lee’s Mongiardino-designed bedroom at Turville.  The accuracy is almost like a photograph.    Notice the painted floor – this pattern shows up again in different houses of Radziwill.  

 

 

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For Christmas one year the children got a old gypsy caravan – something that many upper crust English country houses shared.

 

 

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One constant in Lee Radziwill’s life is her love of animals, dogs especially.  She says she has never not had a dog.   Here, a photo, probably taken in Turville shows her pug and cats.

 

 

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And  a closeup of the urn on the 50 acre property.

 

 

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At Turville in the early 70s near the end of the Radziwills marriage.  Notice at the end of the vista is the urn, barely visible.

 

 

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One summer the Radziwills rented a villa in Italy and the then First Lady came to visit for awhile.  Here the two sisters casually sunbathe, both smoking cigarettes.   Jackie was a chain smoker, something she tried desperately to hide from the public.   I’ve often wondered if her problems giving birth to children (the miscarriages and stillbirths) were somehow related to her smoking.   What a different era it was back then!  Imagine today a First Lady summering in Italy without her husband.

 

 

 

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When the First Lady went on an official visit to India and Pakistan – she asked her sister Lee to accompany her.   Their clothing was a hit of the tour – many of the dresses Oleg Cassini created for the visit ended up in the collection of dresses shown at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001.   Here, the two are dressed in pink while riding a camel.

 

 

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Long white leather gloves while riding an elephant are quite an accessory!

 

 

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Here they both chose a shade of peach and three strands of pearls.  How gorgeous are they?   Jackie – with white leather gloves looks like a model!  Soooo pretty!!  No wonder generations of women everywhere admired her sense of style.

 

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Times Change:   After the death of JFK, Jackie lived in this house in Georgetown for a short period of time.  Here she and Lee leave after touring it with interior designer great Billy Baldwin.  Baldwin had been hired to design this house and another house in hunt country Virginia where the Kennedys planned to retire.  After the assassination  the Virginia house was quickly sold and this Georgetown house was barely lived in.  Instead, Jackie bought a penthouse in New York where she lived until the day she died, in her beloved apartment – as her son John said at that time: 

"My mother died surrounded by her friends and her family and her books, and the people and the things that she loved. She did it in her own way, and on her own terms, and we all feel lucky for that."

 

 

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After Jackie moved to New York, Bobby Kennedy approached Stas about him allowing Lee Radziwill to move with the children to New York to keep Jackie company.   Stas  hated New York, but apparently Bobby was persuasive and the Radziwills took an apartment in NYC on Fifth Avenue.  Eventually, the children even went to school in America, not London.  Lee called on Mongiardino to help her decorate the apartment – but it is not clear whether he was THE designer, or she was.   He suggested the vivid red theme, large Bessarabian carpet and lettuce green taffeta curtains – which unfortunately do not show up good in these pictures.    The beautiful mirror above the fireplace mantel remains with Lee today and is in her present NYC apartment.  The drawing room was very large and at the center were two sofas, back to back.    Notice the painted red and black crown molding and baseboards.   The bouillotte lamps show up in Radziwill’s current NYC apartment.

 

 

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The room was punctuated with black accents – such as this gorgeous chest.   Here you can see the two sofas – Lee put a piece of textile over the backs of the sofas.

 

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Radziwill says that she likes to start designing a room by getting the rug first.  Here, the Bessarabian rug that Renzo Mongiardino chose for the penthouse.

 

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The dining room with silk moiré walls and a charming painting.   The table and chairs are both Regency.

 

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The library, with the silk velvet tiger upholstery.   I wish these pictures were better so we could see the actual colors.  The round medallion paintings show up again in Radziwill’s current apartment.

 

 

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The master bedroom is a complete departure in this apartment – she wanted it to have a lighter feel.  Notice the floor pattern is the same as it was in her country home in England.  Painted floors like this are having something of a resurgence today.  Recently, Mary McDonald painted the floors in her Los Angeles house in a similar graphic manner.   Radziwill’s bedroom is more country French than the Regency inspired public areas of the apartment.

 

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Throughout the years, Radziwill has worked at many different jobs.  She was briefly an actress, she worked in public relations for Armani, and in 1972 she and her best friend Truman Capote toured with the Rolling Stones.   Here, pictured in her bedroom, in 1976, she announced she was an interior design consultant, working out of her Fifth Avenue duplex.

 

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Happy Times:  1966, Lee and Truman Capote at his famous White and Black Party.   The two were best friends for years, though at the end of his life, they were no long speaking.  Other great friends included Andy Warhol and his gang and the ballet sensation Rudolf Nureyev who actually lived with the Radziwills for a time.

 

 

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SAD TIMES:  Stanislaw  Radziwill and his wife Lee, seen traveling to America in 1968, for the funeral of Robert F. Kennedy.   Earlier that same year, Jackie had married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, a move which shocked most Americans.  In truth, insiders knew that the two sisters had been connected with Onassis for quite some time.   In several books, it was alleged that Lee was the sister most intimate with Onassis.  After the death of her newborn son Patrick, Jackie – at Lee’s urging – joined her and Onassis on a cruise around the Greek isles.   The cruise started just a few weeks after the tragedy of Patrick’s death and  it was then that Onassis shifted his gaze from Lee to her older sister Jackie.   Once the cruise was over and she returned back to Washington, Jackie did not appear at a public function until a few months later in November – on that fateful trip to Dallas.   Four years later, she and Onassis were married.     Onassis, a victim of much family tragedy too, died seven years later, and some say, it was just before he was planning on divorcing Jackie.     She never remarried, but did spend the last years of her life in a committed relationship with Maurice Tempelsman, which many say was the first mutually respectful relationship she had experienced. 

 

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Lee’s marriage to Stas officially ended in 1974.   Later that year, she almost married again, but left her groom at the altar, 5 minutes before the ceremony.  Throughout the years, Lee had suitors – a long standing one was Peter Beard, the handsome photographer.    After her divorce from Stas,  Lee left the Fifth Avenue duplex for this smaller Park Avenue apartment.  The ambiance of the two apartments could not have been different – Lee said that the Park Avenue apartment reminded her of Turville, with its sunny terraces and flower drenched rooms.   Her children were now grown and she says that she missed them terribly. 

 

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Much of the furniture from the Fifth Avenue apartment made its way to Park Avenue.  Here the same dining room table and chairs look completely different in the sunny apartment.   The gorgeous botanicals are seen again, hanging here. 

 

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In 1998, Lee takes her third husband, the handsome widower and prolific movie director Hebert Ross (Funny Girl, Steel Magnolias, The Turning Point).   Here the happy couple arrive at Jackie’s apartment for their wedding reception.  Not too long after, tragedy starts to strike again and again.  

 

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Lee, shown at Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’ funeral – in 1994.

 

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Five years later – these two little boys, who were more like brothers than cousins would both be gone.   John Kennedy Jr and his wife Carolyn and her sister were killed in a plane crash.  What the world didn’t know was that Lee’s son Anthony was in the last stages of terminal cancer.  Three short weeks later, he too would be gone.   

 

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Lee and her husband Herb Ross at John and Carolyn’s funeral.   Three weeks later, her son would die too.    The two couples, John and  Carolyn and Anthony and his wife Carole were all the best of friends.  After the tragedies, Carole Radziwill was left alone having lost her three best friends.  A few years later, she wrote the book “What Remains” a heartbreaking tale of their four lives.    The book portrayed Lee as a thoughtful and loving mother who handled adversity with grace and strength.    In 2001, she and Ross divorced shortly before Ross himself unexpectedly died.   

 

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Today, Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield Radziwill Ross is a beautiful woman, devoted to her daughter Tina and her niece Caroline and her dogs!    She divides her time between Paris and New York.    

 

 

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Elle Decor recently published her two apartments:  in Paris, she lives in a small flat bathed in sunlight.   The apartment is filled with white and touches of pink.   The sofa is a early Christian Liaigre and the two commodes are steel.   Simple seagrass covers the wood floors which are not stained and were left unfinished, so that they feel “sandy.” 

 

 

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The other side of the drawing room is awash in pinks, flowers, and books.   The traveling botanicals, a gift from the Duke of Beaufort,  have made their way back across the Atlantic to Paris.  Aren’t they stunning?

 

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The library is beautiful, completely upholstered in Le Manach fabric!   Fabulous!!!!  The photograph of the giraffe is by Peter Beard.  Apparently her bedroom in NYC is also completely upholstered in the same Le Manach fabric.

 

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The bedroom is simply furnished, her books become the focal point.  The walls give off a soft pink glow, but the blanket really ties the apartment all together.

 

 

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Not from the Elle Decor shoot, this photograph is of her Paris apartment bedroom where her desk is. 

 

 

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In New York, all the red and fancy interior design has been toned down.  The living area is calm, white, and classic.  The antiques are superb, the French  chair next to the fireplace is signed Jacob.  Recognize the mirror, the black tole bouillotte lamps, the Bessarabian rug?

 

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The dining room is fabriced in reds and pink, slightly like the original Renzo Turkish living room in London.   The chairs are 19th century and the fabric is an Italian silk.  The picture next to the window came from the library on Fifth Avenue.  The pinks ties the New York apartment to the Paris one – making the transition easier.

 

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The sitting room is a stunner in pink and white stripes by Rubelli.  The day bed was designed by Radziwill.   Notice the beautiful tufted chair by the window and the sumptuous curtains.   Gorgeous! 

 

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The New York library is, like in Paris, completely done in a Le Manach toile.  Notice the book – Nureyev!   The settee is antique Swedish.  

 

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Recognize the small chair next to the desk?  It was in Radziwill’s Fifth Avenue coop’s bedroom.

 

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Today, what occupies Radziwill’s free time?  She is taking watercolor lessons.  Examples of her work, above, are placed throughout her apartment.  

 

 

 

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Happy Times, her short and sweet memoir, half scrapbook, half biography.   In it, Radziwill remembers only the good times.  She has a remarkable ability to be a positive person, to focus on the good, not the sad, then she moves on and keeps going.  The book has not one negative word about anyone or anything that she has had to endure throughout her life.   It’s a fun, easy read, full of pictures of the happy times from her life.    Available here

 

 

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What Remains by Radziwill’s daughter in law, Carole  Radziwill recalls the events leading up the summer of 1999 when her three best friends all left this earth within a few short weeks of each other.  Tragic and unbelievably sad, it is very well written - surprisingly so for a first time author.  It’s a quick, short read, and one that I HIGHLY recommend.  Available here.

 

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And finally, interior designer John Stefanidis’ account of the rebuilding of his country estate in England.  Something about his property reminds me of Turville.   Living by Design available here.

114 comments:

  1. Wonderful! A combination history lesson and peek into the lives and homes of a fascinating individual and her iconic sister.Thanks for sharing. You never disappoint.

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  2. Always been fascinated with our "American royalty." Thank you, Joni....I felt like I was reading a novel.

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  3. Wow! I read a book about Lee last year, and may still have it around. If so, it's coming your way.

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  4. Lovely Joni...it is so sad the amount of tragedy this family had endured. well done. Thank you.
    Blessings...

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  5. What a wonderful post. I loved the traveling botanticals! It just shows that if you have things you love, and collect slowly over time, you can always find a place for them in your home (particularly if they have sentimental value or of the best quality).

    Man, she is thin. Very, very thin. Reminds me of a character in Tom Wolfe's book Bonfire of the Vanities.

    Also, did you know that most authors of non-fiction hire ghostwriters who write the entire book? It is the job of the ghostwriter to be the non-credited author, and they make a nice living doing this.

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  6. I love the Kennedy's This post was a great one! The picture in Buckingham Palace I have seen before, love all the carpets..the Moroccan feel. Bravo Joni!
    L
    lamaisonfou blog

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  7. As always Joni, you've outdone yourself. I am crazy for the Turkish room and her current Paris apartment. They were both amazing women who were privileged to live in such beautiful spaces....and yet tragedy abounded in their lives.

    - Suzanne

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  8. This was such a wonderful blog to read. You did excellent research. I have the book that the sisters wrote when they were teenagers and went to Europe, just the two of them. It is a very good coffee table book. Large and beautifully illustrated by Jackie herself.

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  9. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous!! Another beautiful post, Joni girl!! I loved it and have passed it on......OUTSTANDING!

    xoxox......Lee

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  10. This marvelous post could've easily been titled A Brief
    History of Interior Decoration 1960-2006. Variations on a theme of upper class life, from the vantage point of someone with great personal style. The Renzo de
    Mongiardino rooms must have bowled over anyone who saw them back in the day. Interesting to see how Lee Radziwill took her original enthusiasm for pattern and pared it down over the years.

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  11. Another incredible post. Seriously, you should consider writing a book or teaching at a college - your posts are so thorough and yet, so easy and fun to read. What a sad series of events and what a gracious, strong woman.

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  12. Thank you for this fabulous history lesson!

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  13. Another great post! A ha-ha is a sort of sunkey fence -so that it doesn't interupt the view.

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  14. * It never ceases to amaze me how some lives, so seemingly/outwardly "perfect", and w/ EVERY conceivable "advantage", can be so exciting ONE minute, and so filled w/ (multiple) tragedies the NEXT...

    Such an interesting read, Joni, and one that gives the reader pause for reflection, appreciation & deep, most sincere thanks to Him~~~

    As always, your presentation here is flawless, my talented friend!

    Warmly & appreciatively, Linda

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  15. Lovely post, Joni. Thank you for putting this together!

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  16. Well well! This was a "two cup" post--that's coffee, you know! I throughly enjoyed reading about the two sisters. Being very close to my own sister, I certainly relate to their desire to travel and experience things together.

    I was quite surprised by how may botanicals and organic forms there were. Lee definitely had a love for nature--the parrots, the birds, the flowers, etc. They were everywhere in the earlier years. With her maturity, notice how much more simple things have become. It's almost as if her life experiences taught her to purely simplify.

    What a great lesson! Thank you, Joni!

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  17. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing this information.

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  18. Great story. i still can't help by being sad over her and her sisters losses. ( family) What a life Lee has had and who's life( lives) she has been a part of. Interesting life. Her and her sister sure had great style , with clothes and home. mishelle

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  19. Wow- I have been following your blog for quite a while, but I especially love these history through interior design stories. It brings the real life of iconic people and interior design together in a most delicious way. Thanks

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  20. What a lovely post about such an iconic family. Even though they have been written about so many times, you bring a fresh and gracious perspective.

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  21. Fantastic post!
    Do you know why Jackie frequently wore gloves?.....

    She hated her hands - thought they were too large and masculine. Just a bit of trivia...

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  22. I have the Stefanidis book so when I saw that photo of Turville I thought it was Cock Crow!
    This was such a great post...I could read about Jackie and Lee all day long.
    Thanks Joni ;)

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  23. Be it ever so humble, there's no place like my home...they can have all their celebrity, fashion and "big name" designers - I'll take my simple life with my FIRST husband of 32 years and stay out of the limelight. The drama of their lives - goodness, how did they keep their heads above water? Wow...

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  24. Such an interesting family with so much history, and such beautiful interiors!

    I enjoyed seeing the history of Lee's homes after seeing the segment in Elle... thanks Joni!

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  25. Fantastic as always. And Lee just gets better looking with age. It's all in the bone structure, apparently!

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  26. I enjoyed the Post, fascinated by your way of writing, the pictures, the stories. Now I need to re-read it with more time. Great comments too, specially Toby's.

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  27. Thank you so much for sharing this detailed biography and photographic journey through the life of Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield Radziwill Ross. What an extraordinary life she has had. ~Arleen

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  28. Thank you for this exquisite posting about a remarkable woman and her remarkable homes.

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  29. Lights - Camera - - Details!

    There's always something new to discover at Cote de Joni.

    I must admit to being ever so envious of that Lee for staying constantly THIN. Why does Middle Age Spread never apply to these women??? (you've got another one in your town: Lynn de Wyatt)

    Do none of them eat cake???

    Judith de Jealous

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  30. WHAT a stunning spread. And thanks for all the coverage on Lee - she was so amazing in her own right, but is often overlooked in the excitement about Jackie. Both sisters had timeless style.

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  31. Beautiful and informative post as usual. Great feature on classic style! I love it ALL!

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  32. Your writing makes the myriad topics & narratives accessable. Delightful.

    It might be more fun not knowing what a ha ha is. It's a ditch cut into a slope, typically, to keep farm animals away from areas. From the manor home views they're not visible.

    If you've toured estates in Europe you've seen them.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  33. What a POST. Thank you so much for all this. That photo of Jackie in that pink dress and the photo of the two of them on the elephant (also in pink)...just stunning!

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  34. Such an elegant posting of such an elegant lifestyle.

    Years ago a friend of mine saw both sisters eating lunch in New York in a restaurant in Central Park (I think it was Tavern on the Green; maybe the other one whose name I can't remember right now). They ordered one small salad and split it!! THAT is how they stayed so fashionably thin.

    We all like to see how the other 1% lives and this was a great glimpse into the Bouvier sisters whom, after all these years, we still can't stop reading about. I just added a couple books to my reading list, too.

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  35. Wonderful, wonderful. I loved them both. I have a first edition of the book they did for their parents when they toured Europe for the first time as young girls. I was reprinted a couple of years ago and it's lovely and definitely something you would love. As a matter of fact, I have an extra copy someone gave me, and I'd love to send it to you if you don't already own it. Just email me your address!!

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  36. I glanced at this spread while on my break at work. Looks like I need to really read it and I think I'm going to read her biography as well. Thanks for all the extra information and beautiful pictures. It is such a wonderful post for two lovely sisters.

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  37. I have been browsing your blog for a couple of months now, and it is always so fascinating and beauiful! Please continue to post more decor/history blogs like this one, you capture the passing years and events (and decoration) of personalities so, so well.

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  38. Beautiful, I am speechless, thank you for sharing this wonderful story of a beautiful woman! Pamie G.

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  39. Another great post. You put so much thought and work into them.

    Sometimes I get impatient waiting for your next one. From now on I'll relax knowing that it takes time to do what you do!

    Loved reading about what to me isn't history but my earlier life.

    Thank you.

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  40. Loved this post! Thanks, Joni.

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  41. Hi Joni! What a wonderful post! I love learning about the rich and famous and it's even more fun to peek inside their homes. I saw Lee at the airport in New York a few years ago. I would never had recognized her, but a couple of nights before had seen her on Larry King or some program! She was still a pretty lady!
    Hope all is well in your wonderful little world!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

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  42. Well, I've been reading, but I haven't commented until now :) I thoroughly enjoy your blog!! You are *teaching*, which is so nice in a post - takes blogging one notch higher. I'm more widely educated after reading here tonight - good for you!

    Jacci

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  43. I just read the Elle Decor article. Yours is so much better!!

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  44. Such a 'Creme de la Creme Lifestyle'.

    Thank you Joni for a peek into it. Well written!

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  45. Soooo interesting!!! Thanks, Joni!
    Sally W.

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  46. Great storytelling, Joni.
    I read the whole thing in one sitting even tho I should have been working!!

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  47. Joni,
    I just have to add my big THANK YOU for this lovely, thorough post. I have collected some of the same photos over the years and the books too, but your organized time-line with added rare photos makes this entry a visual treat, design lesson, and human interest story that I will return to many times. WOW!
    Thank you,
    Caroline

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  48. You continue to amaze. Don't lose sight of your own talent and insights as you continue to instruct us! All the best.

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  49. Wonderful Joni - I love reading about the Kennedy sisters. I don't know what the fascination is with that family but I am always intrigued. Thank you for the book ideas, I look forward to reading those. Have a lovely weekend, xv.

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  50. It's amazing to see the consistency of her "look". She kept her treasures and managed to make them current. Thanks for all the beautiful pics and the book reviews! I'm making my summer reading list now.

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  51. Two women who in my humble opinion are the epitome of taste and style.
    I was truly drooling over the Elle pages. Can you imagine being the journalist? Sigh.
    One charming book is "One Special Summer" that penned by the girls after their first European trip.

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  52. I had read the article in Elle a week or so ago. Yours is so much better. I just love it when you give us a little history lesson. You always make the lives of whomever you are writing about come alive. I can't thank you enough. These Bouvier sisters have always held such fascination for me. I am going to run out and buy those books right now. Thanks for a wonderful, well written story. I was lost in it.

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  53. Thank You Joni for this lovely post.

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  54. What an interesting post !!!

    I just finished America's Queen by Sarah Bradford take a peek I think you'll enjoy...

    Poor Jackie & Lee had a miserable upbringing,were not very close sisters. A terrible relationship with their Mother and poor Jackie always searched for the love she never got from her father, Black Jack the cad/drunk...she ended up in a miserable marriage with Jack who had Addison Disease, he also infected Jackie with a sexual transmitted disease which many think led to the miscarriages. Jack was a very sick child and he himself had miserable parents, poor Rose and her cad of a husband. It all appears glamarous on the surface...read their history just plain sad.

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  55. "I'm not entirely sure what a ha-ha is..."

    A ha-ha is a sunken boundary usually found at the bottom of a formal, country house garden. They were often used by the eighteenth century landscape gardeners William Kent and Capability Brown; the idea was to make it appear as though the formal garden merged straight into the more informal land beyond (a ha-ha can't be seen by the human eye until one is very close to the boundary). One side of the ha-ha usually consists of a brick retaining wall to shore up the land, the other side is a more natural earthen ditch boundary. I'm probably not explaining this very well - if you have a look at http://www.yale.edu/yup/images/bormann3.jpg you will get a better idea of how a ha-ha is constructed.

    Often the land beyond the ha-ha was used to graze deer or sheep (the 'picturesque idyl') - people gazing at the garden from the house or terrace would have the illusion that the animals were grazing in the garden when actually they couldn't get anywhere near the expensively-maintained formal gardens because of the ha-ha! It was also a great way of making it appear as though the house came with far more land than was actually the case.

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  56. Amazing post! Incredible photograph's and an interesting peek into history from a unique perspective.
    I got stuck on the painted over scarves for awhile, what an incredible idea...absolutely gorgeous!
    Thank you for a wonderful read:)

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  57. Joni...Thankyou. I might have glanced at the article, looking more at the decor. You brought it all together, and what a compelling, sad and real story punctuated by grace and beauty.

    Wonderful, thorough post...as always.

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  58. Another outstanding post. Love how you put it all together.. What I learned... you can have lots of beautiful "things", grace, style... but what matters most are the people you love and having them in your life!

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  59. Joni, what a fascinating and informative post. I love Lee's style and always liked her. I always thought she was more elegant and prettier than Jackie, who I was never partial to for some reason.

    I read the Elle Decor spread on the plane home. I quite like some of Lee's rooms. She is an elegant lady indeed. I would love to read her book. I am quite enamoured with the Kennedy clan and the people that surround it. I have been meaning to read Carole's book too.

    Thanks for this great post. Aren't all those B&W photos incredible? I am starting to admire Jackie more as I see them. What dolls they both were. I really need to go on a diet. ; )

    Love xo Terri

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  60. What a great tribute to a truly stylish woman. Saw a photo of her recently ( in her Park Ave digs ) and I thought she looked awesome. Love that image of her with her two dogs- she looks kind of Audrey Hepburn-ish.

    What a fantastic post!

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  61. Pure Tour de Force Ala Joni!
    Thanks for all the info and for scanning all these photos! I surely will be using some of them in the future.
    As ever you are a great and gifted and generous resource Joni.
    And of course I love Lee and all her decor through the decades. I plan to fabric my office walls ala Lee sometime soon.
    xo xo

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  62. wow! i have to admit, i've never been a huge renzo fan, but after seeing your pictures of lee's homes, i am reevaluating that. pretty much genius, those rooms.

    side note, funny how similar that amazing dolphin base dining table is to the one in my recent design blogger's challenge!
    now i really have to reevaluate my renzo thinking.

    http://maison21.blogspot.com/2009/03/obsessive-compulsive-decorating.htm

    as usual, i remarkable post, joni! thank you!l

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  63. As a classical Architect working in New York City I'm often in these types of apartments and work some wonderful Interior Designers. I have to say this blog really fills gaps in my design education, My professors at Yale never mentioned the importance of 50 yards of printed fabic and a staple gun. Love the blog - keep it up!
    Thank you!

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  64. Wow - another fantastic post. I really think you should write a book - a collection of all these fabulous posts! You have an incredible ability to write and collect information that is historical but also so relevant to understanding today's design. I really loved this one though. Being from Boston the Kennedy's are like Royals here. And of course, I am always intrigued by more personal glimpes inside their private lives. You are amazing!!
    xx-Gina

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  65. Joni — I think the fact that the two sisters went off on vacations without their husbands is a very common upper class habit. Nothing that their cronies would have considered unusual — even if regular Americans might have been surprised.

    I have to say that I find Lee looking like she's had a bit too much surgery in that last photo.

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  66. This is my first time commenting, but I just had to mention what a fantastic post this was. I really enjoy your blog - please keep up the outstanding work!
    Jane

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  67. Joni, I absolutely loved this post! You are amazing at compiling these humongous, super informative posts!
    xx
    Anna

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  68. I pray people see the love and compassion of this family before they see the tragedy.

    Enjoyed this post very much. Thank you for taking the time to put it together.

    Lisa

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  69. I love to hear about, read about and view images of the lives & loves of these two fabulous sisters. What great sense of style, and yes they both lived life on their own terms!

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  70. Thanks for this post. This is an amazing read!

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  71. After reading your incredibly interesting post on the famous sisters and you putting it all together so elegantly all for me left to say is thank you. To follow you through the years in their lifes, style and their homes was so enlightening and fascinating. Not being American nor British, it all makes more sense now to me! What a family...

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  72. You provide some of the best info and photos around! This was profoundly amazing. Thank you so much for putting it together. A wonderful read!!

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  73. Hi Joni,

    very thorough post of Lee Radziwill's life - thank you - for those interested, there are more photos of her Paris flat here:

    http://www.wallflowerdispatches.com/?p=342.

    These are taken from an article that was published in the British press - see if you can spot more design details in the new photos....

    Kerstin from www.wallflowerdispatches.com

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  74. What a wonderful post! Thank you so much, I had never known very much about her until now.

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  75. This post left me catching for breath... Awsome! I've always admired Lee. Her taste and style always outshone Jackie's -who was far more conservative and obvious- and always had and still has a cult following. It'd be great if you could post more pictures of her. Thank you so much for making me happy.

    Vanina

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  76. Joni, You continue to amaze and entertain and enlighten me with your extraordinary posts. You combine so many of my favorties -- history, design and biographies. Have you thought about taking your blog to the next level and writing a book, or starting a magazine? Seriously!

    ~~ Victoria

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  77. Thank you for this inspirational post. So many little snippets of such a fabulous life and so many beautiful images. This has been a great read.

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  78. Wow, what an amazing look into the lives of a wonderful woman and her family. All of these pictures are beyond beautiful. What an amazing life to be surrounded by beautiful people and beautiful houses!

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  79. You put a lot of time & effort into this terrific post. I loved it & was a bit teary looking at the photos of two of our nations most amazing women.
    I look forward to reading Lee's book. I am bewildered that a woman could write completely void of bitterness, after all she & her family has endured. That alone is quite an achievement.
    Thank you, thank you for bringing their story into my home today.

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  80. I am shocked to find writing of this quality on a blog. What a wonderful, wonderful piece, fascinating. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together, what a marvelous reading experience. I will link this on my blog, if you don't mind.

    Maggie May

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  81. Terrific photos and fascinating info!

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  82. j'adore Lee Radziwill, si élégant

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  83. Excellent post. I really enjoyed reading it. I was about to leave a description of a ha-ha when I saw that English Rose had beaten me to it! They have them at most country houses, and they look so much nicer than fences

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  84. The Bouvier sisters were beautiful, smart, superbly dressed and very very rich. Lee Radziwill's apartments and estates around the world were, without a doubt, divinely appointed with the best of everything. She almost eclipsed her fabulous sister.

    Jacqueline Kennedy's life from first lady extraordinaire to her marriage to the then world's richest man was the stuff of legend and romance. Magazines, books and newspapers chronicled her every move and Mrs. Kennedy knew how to be famous without ever being vulgar.

    Lee and Jackie were not only marvelous to look at, they did such interesting things in their beautiful lives.

    In the end tragedy consumed those wonderful lives and that is quite sad. This beautiful site wipes away some of that sadness and reminds us of what a privilege it was to have lived through those times.

    Thank you for this gorgeous site. Well done ... bravisima!!!

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  85. what an interesting read I would love to read her book!

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  86. An amazing blog post. I really enjoyed it and the pictures are beautiful, and it was so well written and researched.

    I was reading about the Kennedy's in general after stumbling on the documentary Grey Gardens, which is about a cousin and Aunt of Lee Radziwell/J. Kennedy Onnassis (Edith Bouvier Beale). I've always loved their glamourous story, and I admire them a lot, but I never saw such a raw documentary before.

    It's definitely worth seeing if anyone wants to see more about what the family were/are like. It's such a strange movie.

    http://www.amazon.com/Grey-Gardens-Edith-Bouvier-Beale/dp/B00005KHJX

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/grey-gardens/

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  87. Thank you for your post is really important to me ... it is very good information about
    Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield Radziwill Ross aka “Lee” ...

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  88. Dear Cote de T.,

    Under the rare photo of Jackie Kennedy smoking (while summering with sister Lee in Italy), you ponder the effect of cigarettes on her multiple miscarriages.

    I have read elsewhere that her miscarriages were due most likely to JFK's propensity to stray. He was repeatedly treated for venereal diseases (news of which was kept from the public), many of which were transmitted to Jackie.

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  92. so lovely to read and look at past and current times.

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  93. Nice post. Great blog. Thanks for sharing. It was very interesting.

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  94. Jackie's smoking probably caused Patrick's death, tragically. And may have led to her own.

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  95. Very nice....altho Herb Ross didn't direct "Funny Girl." It was the veteran Willam Wyler. Ross did some of the choreography.

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  96. Thanks for sharing this kind of informative post.

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  97. A Ha-Ha is a term for a ditch that goes around the circumference of an English estate ... animals would fall into the ditch and the hunters would say "Ha ha" at the killed or injured animals. Very cruel, but it's true.

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  98. A better explanation of a ha-ha is found at Wikipedia. I don't think the definition given by "anon 8-17 12:45" is accurate. It is really a sunken fence -- a very old landscape feature.

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  99. I come back to this glorious place when the vulgarity we are forced to witness becomes overwhelming. And each time there is something I missed in one of the photographs. A beautiful chair covered in a luxurious damask, a fabulous floral print .... always elegant. Cote de Texas where taste and elegance and beauty survive and for which I profusely thank you. I wish you had a magazine.

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  100. I have read elsewhere that her miscarriages were due most likely to JFK's propensity to stray. He was repeatedly treated for venereal diseases (news of which was kept from the public), many of which were transmitted to Jackie. student accommodation london

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  101. Jacqueline miscarriages may have been due to her profligate husband's, JFK, venereal diseases and her smoking. The president's drug cocktails for his Addison's Disease which included steroids and amphetamines fueled his insane promiscuity. According to the girlfriend of one of his aides, young women (call girls) were bused in by the dozens every Thursday and it was not uncommon for his friends to hand over their girlfriends to JFK for whatever he had in mind and for them to watch along with the president carrying on various with White House staff on a daily basis. The JFK White House was more Cat House than White House. By the way, the press was part of the presidential weekly parties in the White House pool but never ever reported on the goings on. It took more than half a century for the people to know what happened and although the press admitted guilt for not reporting, never mind joining the presidential pleasure events, some of them swore never to cover up for another president. Again they lied to the point of becoming the new age Pravda, shills for the government. They've become worthless hacks to we, the people.

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  105. I have alway's tried to decorate my humble home's with good taste and elegance. It is alway's with pride when a friend ask's for my advice, which I got from my mother who taught me to read classy book's and I soon learned to love decorating. When I first saw Jackie's house in VA I was shocked to see how plain it was. Lee had the "eye". As for hearing about Jaclie's private life I feel so sad.

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  106. dont miss NIcky (Haslam's) up close and personal in the New York Times.... http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/02/17/t-magazine/17well-lee.html

    he captures her voice as only an old friend could possibly. GREAT post. thanks CdT. Colette

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