Described by Dior’s Mathilde Favier as “the most elegant and tasteful lady on Earth”, on the surface Lee Radziwill shared the qualities of wealth, style and social status with her older sister, former-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis. She would though lead a life in her shadow. Radziwill’s daughter Anna Christina confirmed her mother passed away on Friday at her Manhattan apartment. She was 85.
Radziwill worked as a writer, actress and decorator although several attempts to gain professional recognition across any these fields resulted in pale reflections when compared to the spotlight on her sister, The New Times reports. “Perhaps the most depressing part was that whatever I did, or tried to do, got disproportionate coverage purely because of Jackie being my sister,” she told the publication in 1993.
Married three times, the international socialite and fashion icon took the last name of her second husband, Polish Prince Stanislas Radziwill. The couple had two children before divorcing. Fourteen years later, she married film director Herbert Ross (Footloose, Steel Magnolias). She counted Andy Warhol and Truman Capote as good friends.
It must have been difficult living not only in the shadow of Jackie but having the US President as a brother-in-law. In the same 1993 interview with the Times, Radziwill said she felt “lucky there was so much more interest in my sister” but at times it was “annoying, at times funny”. She told Vanity Fair in 2016 that the death of President John F Kennedy was tragic but made her feel “free” as there was so many things she wasn’t able to do given Presidential protocol.
During her lifetime, she was on every list as one of the world’s best dressed women. But perhaps her greatest achievement was the unwavering support she offered her sister when the President was shockingly assassinated in November of 1963. According to reports, she would pin little notes to Jackie’s pillow at night to tell her how proud she was of her bravery. Radziwill helped Jackie and her children move out of the White House and into an apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. She would later introduce Jackie to her future husband, Aristotle Onassis.
May the Bouvier sisters rest, now together, in peace.