A recent biography titled ‘Jackie: Public, Private, Secret’ delves into the revelation that former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis engaged in a deliberate act of destroying private materials before her death. Some of these materials are related to a discreet romantic relationship. In the final months of her life, Jackie received Valentine’s note from architect Jack Warnecke, a former lover who had always kept her in his thoughts. This note sparked a reunion between them at her apartment several months before she passed away from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1994 at the age of 64.
Three decades earlier, Jackie had fallen in love with Jack Warnecke, who had designed the memorial grave site for President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery. The details of their relationship were shared by Warnecke himself with author J. Randy Taraborrelli, who honored Warnecke’s request to keep their story under wraps until after his passing ( 2010 ). The biography provides an intimate look into Jackie’s personal life, aiming to uncover the human side of her story rather than focusing solely on glamor and celebrity.
An excerpt from Taraborrelli’s new book, Jackie: Public, Private, Secret. the book recounts a particular evening when Warnecke visited Jackie’s apartment. During this visit, she performed a ritual, inviting trusted friends and family members to witness it. Jackie handed Warnecke a stack of envelopes tied together with yarn, which contained various letters, including ones from her children, Jack Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis, her father, Jack Bouvier, and even some from Warnecke himself. She proceeded to read and burn the letters one by one. She also entrusted Warnecke with a photograph of her and Jack Kennedy on his inauguration day, asking him to keep it for her.
The book sheds light on Jackie’s enduring grief over the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy, in 1963. Just a year after his death, Jackie and Warnecke began their relationship, despite objections from some in her inner circle, including her brother-in-law Bobby Kennedy. Their relationship was a rollercoaster of emotions, with Jackie often feeling like she was performing for others rather than experiencing genuine happiness. They dated for three years, and although they spoke of marriage, no concrete plans were made. Eventually, financial troubles and Jackie’s abrupt silence led to the end of their relationship.
Jackie went on to marry Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis in 1968, which proved to be a turbulent union that ended with his death in 1975. During this time, she sought therapy with psychoanalyst Dr. Marianne Kris, who treated her for ongoing post-traumatic stress disorder related to the assassination and addressed marital issues. Jackie discovered that Dr. Kris had also treated Marilyn Monroe, believed to have had an affair with JFK, causing tension between them.
In her later years, Jackie found companionship with diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman. However, in early 1994, she received a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Just two months before her passing, Jackie contacted Warnecke to share her optimism after initial chemotherapy treatments. However, subsequent MRI results revealed that the cancer had spread. During their conversation, Jackie expressed regrets about letting the events of November 22, 1963, overshadow the rest of her life. Jack reassured her that she had moved forward and thrived, but Jackie admitted she had never truly overcome the tragedy. They ended the conversation with Jack expressing his continued love for her, to which she responded with gratitude, but chose to leave it at that. Unfortunately, they never spoke again.