the sex lives of dead people: jackie onassis and frank sinatra edition

why hello, again.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 9.33.25 PM

so, fyi, this is not a new rumor. but because it’s been a whole year since this

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and even longer since this… mayhaps you have forgot.

lucky for you, i am in the middle of JACKIE: THE PHD, and i’m also in the middle of THE SEX LIVES OF DEAD PEOPLE: THE CONFERENCE PAPER, and so one afternoon i actually sat down and made a list to ascertain where we are and so’s have a running tally and i can tell you with some authority that where we are now, vis-à-vis MEN ALLEGED TO HAVE SHARED JACKIE’S BED, is this:

Bobby and Teddy Kennedy, Gianni Agnelli, Rudolph Nureyev, Marlon Brando, William Holden, Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Charles Addams, Dr. Christian Barnard, Peter Cook, Pete Hamill, Robert Lowell, and Frank Sinatra.

AAAAAAAAAAAND according to the daily mail, that is “to name only a few.” i, for one, am still waiting for elvis, burt reynolds and ronald reagan. because those would actually be new gossip.

75-06 screen stars 1

june 1975

how jackie went from being, in liz smith’s 1974 estimation, a woman who loved “ari’s rough and ready ways” to in sheilah graham’s mid-70s evaluation, “not a passionate woman” to being, by 2014, according to the daily mail, “a passionate woman who needed the closeness of men every bit as much as her philandering  husband Jack Kennedy needed other women” is one of the great questions of our time, fyi. (please, some future person, write JACKIE’S TABLOID SEX LIFE: THE PHD. i beg you.)

also, fyi, if you research mid-century gossip for any length of time you realize that basically 99.9% of the “shocking” and “new” gossip stories about mid-century stars are totally old news. someone, somewhere, has said them before. to such an extent that it is dispiriting that our modern world is not more creative.

but sinatra. let’s talk about sinatra. who knew jackie because he knew jfk.


but let’s talk specifically taraborelli’s claims about sinatra and jackie as recounted in the daily mail.

UNITED STATES - APRIL 16: Jacqueline Kennedy with Frank Sinatra at Jilly's (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – APRIL 16: Jacqueline Kennedy with Frank Sinatra at Jilly’s (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

sadly for all of us, the episode taraborelli recounts is not from this 16 april 1974 encounter where jackie went to sinatra’s concert in providence and then sinatra came back to new york with her and they met up with ari at jilly’s and sinatra wore this huge-ass honking medallion and an especially friar tuck hairdo. alas.

PKT4594-341110 JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS 1974 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Frank Sinatra leaving Jilly's in New York after Jackie had attended Sinatra's 'COME BACK' concert in Providence R. I. They flew together to Providence and back in his rpivate jet.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Frank Sinatra leaving Jilly’s in New York after Jackie had attended Sinatra’s ‘COME BACK’ concert in Providence R. I. They flew together to Providence and back in his rpivate jet.

though please note how the pre-fab caption here totally obliterates ari’s presence at jilly’s and makes it seem like jackie and sinatra were on a date. fyi, they were not.

though this is- surprise!– what the movie mags did as well…

74-01 tv movie screen 5

taraborelli’s source said that this all went down in 1975, which would be this:


The Night of The Visible Bra Black Checked Jumpsuit.

and yes, i’m conforming to gender norms by limiting the definition of the night to jackie’s clothes, but that is only because frankie’s clothes (and i have resisted the temptation to call him that this whole post but I CAN RESIST NO LONGER!!!) are harder to pin down with any degree of historical accuracy.

2B198C3E00000578-3185567-image-m-20_1438732707825 6-21-club-frank-sinatra-jackie-onassis_650

was it a blue suit or a grey suit? looks like the retouchers over at bettman/corbin archive got a little over-eager with the microsoft paint. so yeah. ok. The Night of The Visible Bra Black Striped Jumpsuit and The Suit of a Different Color. that is the night in question.

and, according to taraborelli, “it was at this point that Sinatra had a well- publicised dinner date with Jackie Kennedy Onassis in New York.”

this did happen. from what i can tell, it happened in september. it was reported at the time.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.14.13 PMbecause you have to read 12 versions of the same story to assemble the collage of details, let’s go over to AP, which tells us what UPI does not, which is that they were not alone…

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and NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS: her jumpsuit was green.

on 24th september 1975, the gossip earl wilson observes that, since this was jackie’s first appearance in a cafe in a while (ari had died the previous march) it was likely that this appearance would “undoubtedly inspire many stories and articles about the new jackie beginning a whole new life.” a trend he seems to have tried to gotten a jump on by declaring this:

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earl wilson’s proclamations are nothing if not under-stated.

come october, dorothy manners chimed in to tell everyone to calm the hell down because jackie and frankie had been friends for ages…

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so let’s go back to this picture of them in their clothes of various colors accompanied by the guy in the elvis glasses…


and consider the rumor of jackie and frankie, version 2015.

the article is actually hardly about jackie, despite the headline being entirely about jackie. and PROPS TO THEM it is heavily cushioned in supposables and probablys…

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in theory, one could argue this anecdote is double-sourced, because the second sinatra friend attests to “feelings,” BUT. when we break this down, what do we have?

what we have is sinatra bragging to two people that he slept with a famous woman. and, actually, the first one- whiting- wasn’t asking sinatra himself. earlier in the article, whiting is called one of sinatra’s “palls,” but here he simply recalls sinatra being asked by sinatra’s friends. this could be something whiting overheard. it could also, just as easily, be a story that was recounted to him after the fact. to parse the sentence structure: he’s recalling sinatra being asked something by other people. it does not specify that he heard sinatra being asked himself, nor that he himself heard sinatra’s reply.

i’m not saying sinatra didn’t brag. i do not know whether or not they slept together. i don’t even think it matters, though i would mention that kitty kelley has written biographies of both jackie and frankie and, if memory serves, never suggested such a thing, and i don’t know about you, but i don’t think we live in a world where kitty kelley would miss this.

but the point i’m making here is that this is essentially the story of some dude’s locker room bragging. and that things are never so clear cut as the daily mail’s headlines would have us believe.

this is a world where even the color of their clothes is open to interpretation. nothing is certain. nothing is true.

except the one thing of which we can be truly certain: these stories will go on and on and on and as they go on and on and on we will be pushed further and further away from who these people might have been. and maybe that’s ok. that is, after all, the nature of gossip. but it’s rather sad too.

i write about real people so i would think that. but still, think of all we miss…

Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the 1970s (2)

3 thoughts on “the sex lives of dead people: jackie onassis and frank sinatra edition

  1. Pingback: 40 years ago, jackie onassis got a job: reflections on our curious cultural reluctance to seeing first ladies as working women | finding jackie

  2. Pingback: the sex lives of dead people: elizabeth taylor and mickey rooney edition | finding jackie

  3. Pingback: the sex lives of dead people: elizabeth taylor + everyone edition | finding jackie

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