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George Christy 07-31-2009

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Bobby and Jackie, David Heymann, Pulitzer Prize, Kennedys, Heymann believes it was the grief that Bobby and Jackie shared after the assassination of President Kennedy that brought them together for their four-year affair before she wed Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis.   According to Heymann, Bobby, who was wed to Ethel Kennedy, with whom he had 11 children, was Jackie’s “true love.”

Heymann’s written biographies of Elizabeth Taylor, separate biographies of RFK and Jackie, John and Caroline Kennedy, Amy and Robert Lowell, Ezra Pound, and others.  Three have been made into NBC miniseries.  His well-written books stir controversy, with numerous quotes from the deceased,  but many subjects he interviewed for this bombshell bestseller about Bobby and Jackie are alive.

“Heymann delivers a gawk-worthy beach read …life for JFK and Jackie was less than perfect … Bobby volunteered to play surrogate father to her kids; before long, an affair began,” notes Publishers Weekly in their review.  “According to Truman Capote, it was ‘perhaps the most normal relationship either one ever had.’  It was not necessarily simple, however; both saw a number of people while they were together.  Promiscuity aside, the Kennedys were also notoriously chintzy in their personal lives, they didn’t tip, and employed undocumented workers at home … it’s anyone’s guess how the affair would have ended if Bobby hadn’t been killed; just four months later, she married Aristotle Onassis …  research is top notch, with plentiful attributions, making this train-wreck love story a substantial guilty pleasure and a sizzling reminder of how the rich are different.”

“I suspect that the one person Jackie ever loved … was Bobby Kennedy.  There was always something intimate in her voice when she mentioned him to me,” recalls Gore Vidal.  “You can look at people and tell if they’ve been intimate,” assesses film producer Susan Pollock, whose friend kept a suite near Jackie’s at the Carlyle Hotel in New York.  On several occasions, the friend saw Bobby, who was five foot nine and weighed 140 pounds, and Jackie return to the suite late at night, then leave together in the morning.  “My friend could tell their affair was an open secret.”

“The two of them carried on like a pair of lovesick teenagers,” says Franklin Roosevelt Jr., the undersecretary of commerce for JFK.  “You had to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see it,” observed Kennedy friend Chuck Spalding, who traveled with them.  In a videotaped interview, Truman Capote reflected, “Nothing morbid about it … the coming together of a man and a woman as a result of his bereavement and her mental suffering at the hands of her late, lecherous husband.  In retrospect, it seems hard to believe that it happened, but it did.”  Reporting on all that was revealed, Heymann provides prodigious source notes for each chapter, along with 21 pages of fine-print bibliography.  

Heymann describes in detail the other liaisons of Bobby and Jackie with the Who and the Who.  Are they all true?  “If such an affair took place,” reflects Heymann, “how is it conceivable that they managed to keep it out of the public eye?  In the 1960s, the private lives of public figures were simply not covered by the media, certainly not to the extent they are today, when even the slightest impropriety, sexual or otherwise, gets reported, probed, and reported again.”

Actors of all ages, notably young aspirants, should bolt over to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood to experience one of those performances of a lifetime.   Chaim Topol stars as Teyve the milkman in the farewell touring company of Fiddler on the Roof, having performed his role more than 2,500 times during these past 40 years, and his baritone voice astonishingly continues to express myriad shadings.   There are lessons to be learned by our young performers whose voices often fall flat on the ear, and desperately need training, while their Brit, European, African and Asian counterparts win out.   

At 73, Topol, born in Tel Aviv, stays young by running three miles and doing 300 push-ups daily.  He was Oscar-nominated for his performance in Norman Jewison’s 1971 film adaptation.  The musical remains foolproof, derived from Sholom Aleichem’s heartwarming tale of Teyve’s exasperation in marrying off his daughters in the 1905 Tsarist Russian village of Anatevka that honors tradition, tradition, tradition.   The book by Joseph Stein will engage audiences until infinity, as will the score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, along with the direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins based on the 1964 Broadway production.  A legacy for their families in forthcoming generations, Fiddler on the Roof remains an historic night in the theatre.  Through August 9.

“We’ve named her Kaithlyn Rose,” says Antonio De Cicco about the birth of his week-old daughter.  Antonio manages Toscana in Brentwood, attending to the famous and not so famous, but pleasing all with his charm, good looks and professionalism.  This is the third offspring for Antonio and Susan, whose son, Julian, is 7, and daughter Lauren is 5. “We want one more, a boy to keep Julian company.”  When Antonio asked Susan to marry him, her dad flew him East in the family’s private plane to attest to Antonio’s commitment.  Now, eight years later, more congratulations to the happy family.

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