RoseMarie Terenzio, a former assistant to the late John F. Kennedy Jr., gives a very personal account of her time working with one of the most sought-after men of his time in her book, Fairy Tale Interrupted.
The son of the assassinated president and the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, JFK Jr. was a target of both adoring women and paparazzi.
Terenzio admits that she wasn't exactly thrilled with JFK at first, since he was given the office she held while working for public relations guru Michael Berman, who, with JFK, founded George magazine. Despite their rocky start, Terenzio and JFK would hit it off, and she eventually became more than just his assistant at the magazine. She became his gatekeeper, making sure outsiders didn't get too close and take advantage of his celebrity. It's clear from her book that she still plays a protective role.
Terenzio's book provides the type of insight only a personal assistant could, and she isn't shy about mentioning Kennedy's personality faults. He could be abrupt with her, and even cut her down in front of colleagues, some of whom she said already looked down on her due to her modest background and resented her access to the boss. But the good outweighed the bad. Terenzio described many kind and generous acts on the part of her boss, such as letting her use his house in Hyannis for a week every summer.
She also wrote well of Kennedy's late wife, Carolyn Bessette, with whom she became incredibly close. Terenzio humorously recounted how she and Bessette would put their heads together to manage the man who was prone to flightiness. Sometimes she would call me in the morning before John had made it into the office to give me a heads-up on the state of his mood and the reasons for it, Terenzio wrote. If he had an issue with me -- such as, I was spending too much time answering the phones and not concentrating on drafting an important letter -- she let me know. I was already adept at reading John, but Carolyn made me seem like a genius.
Although Terenzio didn't abuse her position, at least that's not how it comes off in her book, there were a few times when it did come in handy to be JFK's personal assistant. She describes job perks and freebies, like getting tickets to a sold-out Pearl Jam concert and acquiring a free pair of Versace shoes when one of hers broke and couldn't be repaired or replaced.
But what is perhaps most interesting about Terenzio's book is what she doesn't say. She completely leaves out a leg injury JFK suffered just weeks before the fatal flight he piloted crashed just off Martha's Vineyard, killing him, his wife Carolyn, and her sister. She also never discusses whether JFK was in the best condition to fly. She never touches upon the risks he enjoyed taking -- something JFK's former girlfriend, actress Christina Haag, mentions in her own memoir, Come to the Edge.
Terenzio was famously -- and, perhaps, admirably -- silent after JFK's death. Her book does provide a unique angle on one of the most eligible men of his day, plus an intimate glimpse of his late wife. But it only goes so far, revealing nothing especially juicy. As her boss, JFK could be one of Terenzio's biggest pains, but he was ultimately a great joy to her. For that, she still protects him, even in death.