SHE was the perfect First Lady – stylish, beautiful, gracious and publicly discreet.But private tapes made by Jackie Kennedy reveal for the first time her innermost feelings about world leaders including civil rights champion Martin Luther King.JFK’s wife called Dr King a “terrible man” and claimed he was a sex pest soon after his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.Mrs Kennedy – whose husband was assassinated in 1963 – used the taping sessions to vent her opinions on several famous people of her time.She described French President Charles de Gaulle as an “egomaniac” and Indira Gandhi, the future prime minister of India, as a “prune-bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman”.
In 1964 – four months after JFK was killed in Dallas – Mrs Kennedy gave her candid views of people she met as First Lady in the White House.The taped interviews are being released tomorrow to coincide with the 50th anniversary of her husband becoming US President.Mrs Kennedy reserved her fiercest criticism for Dr King. She said her brother-in-law, US attorney general Robert Kennedy, had told her Dr King was drunk at JFK’s funeral and mocked Cardinal Richard Cushing’s Mass.She said: “He made fun of Cardinal Cushing and [Robert] said that he was drunk at it. I can’t see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, that man’s terrible.”
During the eight hours of recordings, she also spoke of secret FBI wiretaps of a hotel suite occupied by Dr King the night before his historic speech which revealed he telephoned women to invite them to a sex party. The surveillance tapes, made by FBI chief J Edgar Hoover, remain sealed by court order until 2027.In another passage, she said her husband’s speech writer Ted Sorensen had a “big inferiority complex” and Clare Booth Luce, the playwright and Republican politician, was quite possibly a “lesbian”.The tapes were kept under lock and key for 47 years at Mrs Kennedy’s request. In the interviews, conducted by former White House aide Arthur Schlesinger, She does not discuss her husband’s own affairs or his assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
But they do reveal that during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, she begged Kennedy not to send her to safety in the event of a nuclear attack.She added: “If anything happens we’re going to stay right here with you. I want to die with you, and the children do, too.”In another recording session, Mrs Kennedy dismissed the idea that Kennedy’s older brother, Joseph, would have been president had he not been killed in the Second World War.She said: “He would have been so unimaginative compared to Jack.”Mrs Kennedy went on to marry the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. She died in 1994.A seven-part series featuring the interviews called Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F Kennedy is being aired on US television this week and will also be released on DVD. – Mirror