Biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli is examining their deeply private marriage and the complexities behind it in a new book titled “The Kennedy Heirs,” which also dives into the Kennedy family’s third generation, the grandchildren of Rose and Joseph Kennedy.
According to Taraborrelli, who previously published an intensive book on Kennedy Jr.’s mother, Jackie Kennedy, as well as her sister, Lee Radziwill, and their mother, Janet Lee Auchincloss, the union between the couple was always much more complicated than what the public saw.
“John and Carolyn loved each other, but their struggles were much more real than people realize,” Taraborrelli told People magazine Wednesday.
Taraborrelli shared that when Kennedy first saw the Calvin Klein publicist in the mid-‘90s, he told a close friend, “You know how you hear about meeting a girl and knowing instantly she’s the one? Well, it happened to me.”
And the relationship was intense from the start, Taraborrelli insisted.
“John wanted her to know him as other than the son of the president,” he said.
Still, Bessette struggled to fit in with the powerful family.
While Kennedy was used to the media scrutiny, Bessette often felt hunted by the paparazzi, which ruthlessly followed their every step in New York City.
Taraborelli claimed an unnamed friend of Kennedy’s recalled one night at their apartment when Bessette was stressed over dealing with the press.
“He [the friend] walked in just in time to see Carolyn doing a line of coke from the coffee table,” Taraborelli alleged in his book. “’It’s been a bad week,’ John told [the friend] as he sat down and did a line.”
The friend then claimed Kennedy put his head in Bessette’s lap as she stroked his hair.
“They looked peaceful together,” said the friend.
Taraborrelli also interviewed another pal of Kennedy’s, John Perry Barlow, the Grateful Dead lyricist who passed away in 2018 at age 70. Before his death, Barlow reportedly told Taraborrelli Kennedy was a recreational user.
“He and his friend John Perry Barlow had been doing acid and ecstasy together for years,” claimed Taraborelli. “Barlow said, ‘[John] thought of them as a way to experience life differently.’ This was the ‘90s when young people, like John and Carolyn, sometimes partied. They had experiences the way people often do. I found no evidence of any addiction or problems for either of them.”
The outlet shared the couple’s stress only worsen with the impending death of Kennedy’s cousin Anthony Radziwill, Lee’s son, who was suffering from cancer.
“You can’t overestimate the impact Anthony’s illness had on John and their marriage and his feelings of despair about what was happening to his cousin,” said Taraborrelli. “John and Anthony had a relationship no one could get in the middle of. And Carolyn was having a hard time accessing him.
Taraborrelli wrote Bessette reconnected with an old friend in 1998. One night, she allegedly went to the pal’s apartment for a conversation that ended with a kiss. Taraborrelli wrote Bessette “pulled away and said, ‘No, what am I doing? I can’t be here right now,’ and quickly left.” She would later tell Kennedy what happened.
But the alleged drama didn’t end there.
The author also claimed this friend woke up at 2 a.m. two days later when his buzzer rang. He heard the voice of a man identifying himself as a police officer.
“He opened the door to find John Kennedy, his face twisted in anger,” Taraborrelli wrote. “John swung a punch. ‘Stay away from my goddamn wife.’”
Bessette and Kennedy tied the knot in 1996, but by 1998 they were allegedly in couple’s counseling.
“Both wanted to improve their marriage,” Tarraborrelli explained. “John didn’t want to be one of those Kennedy men who didn’t care how his wife feels.”
When the pair were invited to the wedding of Kennedy’s cousin Rory Kennedy, the youngest daughter of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, in July 1999, Bessette told her husband she did not want to go. However, she changed her mind several days later, realizing it would mean a lot to Kennedy. She invited her sister Lauren to come along on the flight for the festivities.
But it was not to be.
On July 16, 1999, the plane, piloted by Kennedy, crashed into the waters off Martha’s Vineyard, killing all three.
“They were working on their relationship at the time they died,” said Taraborrelli. “They thought they had all the time in the world to figure this out.
“Together they had the most thrilling highs and the most crushing blows,” he continued. “They really did love each other, but the question I ask in the book and the question they asked themselves was, ‘Is that enough?’ Their love for each other was undeniable, but was it enough considering everything that was working against them?”