For over half a century, Americans have been fascinated by the myth of Camelot and the mystique surrounding all things Kennedy. The privileged, powerful Kennedy clan is indeed the closest thing to an American royal family if America had royalty. John F. Kennedy, Jr., affectionately known as “John-John” in his youth, grew up in the spotlight. He had no choice in the matter. He was one of the most photographed young men in America, and his comings and goings were fodder for the tabloids.
A young Italian woman raised in the Bronx, RoseMarie Terenzio discovered John and another man packing up her office at PR/NY, the public relations firm where she was employed. John had been hanging out with Michael, one of her bosses, for some time, but no one had bothered to explain his presence there. It seems that John and Michael had made an arrangement of some sort that included moving RoseMarie out of her office. Thus he incurred her full wrath, which was in no way dampened down by her awe of this famous young man.
John liked the fact that RoseMarie had no problem telling him exactly what she thought at all times. As they began to work together, RoseMarie came to trust and like John. This was the start of what turned into a five-year business and personal friendship. RoseMarie became the publicist, assistant, and later close personal friend of John and his future wife, Carolyn. John was restless and anxious to prove himself as something other than the pretty boy, mental lightweight, a role in which the media had constantly cast him. His mission was to establish a new magazine, George, one that depicted politics as something other than a world of smoke-filled, backroom deals. John wanted people to see politics in a different light --- interesting and worthy of respect. He thought a little pop culture might enhance the magazine's image, so George's covers were a bit startling and irreverent.
Carolyn was intimidated and overwhelmed by the media's attention, feeling brutally criticized and exposed. John had learned how to survive being the object of continual public scrutiny and rarely took himself too seriously. He knew the continual attention came along with the Kennedy name. Everyone wanted something from John --- his time, his attention, his endorsement. Rosie, as John and Carolyn called her, became the ever-vigilant gatekeeper. No one ever got past her desk and into John's presence without her say so. She also befriended Carolyn, who, in turn, taught her about fashion and treated her to overly generous shopping trips. They had something unique in common --- they were both insiders in John's rather complicated, high-profile life. It was Rosie who made all the vastly detailed and secretive plans that resulted in Carolyn and John being able to marry privately on Cumberland Island, Georgia. To pull off a secret wedding of America's most famous couple was a huge accomplishment.
It was Rosie who kept track of John's every move, reminding him of little details that would otherwise quite easily slip off his radar. While John lived very much in the moment, she kept him on schedule to the extent that she could. Because of her closeness to him, she received unusual privileges --- backstage passes to meet her favorite musicians, admission to sold-out concerts and sporting events, even being a guest at a White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Rosie had a front-row view of what was hot and happening in entertainment and politics, and spent what little vacation time she could manage in luxury --- at John's beach house in Hyannis. She always had John and Carolyn's backs, and they showed their appreciation by welcoming her into their world of privilege and celebrity.
John and Carolyn were flying in John's private plane, with Lauren, Carolyn's sister, on board. The plan was for John to land on Martha's Vineyard where he would drop Lauren off. Then he and Carolyn would continue on to Hyannis for the wedding of John's cousin, Rory, the youngest child of Ethel and Robert Kennedy. The plane never arrived at Hyannis. Once again, the Kennedy family was dealt the cruelest of blows. And Rosie, the ever faithful assistant and friend, was left to pick up the pieces of her life and begin anew, outside the bubble of the Kennedy aura.
Reviewed by Carole Turner on February 2, 2012
Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss