A man admired from near, a man admired from far, John Kennnedy Jr. was the dashing Prince of Camelot, a true heir to the fabled Kennedy throne, who lost his life all too early in 1999, leaving an unfulfilled destiny, an unfulfilled promise.
In his life time, anyone who was anyone in powerful circles wanted to be a part of the enigma that surrounded him, being the son of John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. One woman, RoseMarie Terenzio, was amongst a very few who got to be an integral part of his life and after over ten years of his passing, the inspiring publicist, writer and speaker has put together a moving, indeed heartbreaking book which reveals the story behind the legend, simply called Fairytale Interrupted.
For five years, Bronx-born Terenzio worked for the iconic JFK Jr. She became his personal assistant and eventually the publicist at his magazine, George. She proved herself to be a model of loyalty, trustworthiness and discretion during her time in the job and even developed a strong friendship with his wife Carolyn Bessette, whom she also adored. Their tragic accidental death in 1999 painfully and suddenly ended this cherished association. The book is a perfect and fitting tribute. The Luxury Channel sat down with Terenzio for a very exclusive interview….
Could you tell us bit about your background?
I grew up in The Bronx in New York City in a loud Italian household. My parents worked two jobs each, but we never had much money. I have three older sisters, and my great-grandmother and grandmother lived with us. We had only one bathroom! We didn’t have much but we were a very close family and my parents gave us so much more than we needed.
When did you decide to write a book about this unique life experience, and how long did it take to pull it all together?
When my mom passed away, I felt that this book would be a tribute to her. I had an incredible experience working beside John, and my mother gave me everything I needed to be in that situation and thrive. I wanted to honour my parents as much as I wanted to honour John. I think the book gives the reader insight into my parents and shows that, in spite of their faults, they were incredible parents and people.
What did you learn that helped you in your career working for John?
John would always say, “Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems in the moment.” I try to use that as a guide.
What are your abiding memories of George Magazine?
George was the place to be at that time. It was new and exciting, and we were doing something no-one had ever attempted – a magazine combining politics and pop culture. It was interesting and fun. There was something new to learn about every day. I remember never wanting to miss anything! My best memories are of brainstorming cover subjects with Matt Berman in his office, narrowing them down, and then bringing our top 3 or 4 in to John.
“There goes my hero. He’s ordinary” from My Hero by Foo Fighters is a featured quote in your book. Music plays such a powerful role, in memory as well as in life – what songs remind you of the time, and was this one of them?
Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alanis Morrisette, Stone Temple Pilots, Fiona Apple, Oasis – this music always brings me back to that time. That line from the Foo Fighters song was definitely for John but also for my dad. That song will always remind me of both of them.
Who would you cast in a movie adaptation of your book?
I truly can’t think of anyone who could capture John’s essence in its entirety which is why I would cast an unknown actor. The rest of the cast changes all the time but I could definitely see Angelina Jolie capturing Carolyn! Marisa Tomei would be my dream to play me.
What were the challenges working for such a high profile figure?
It was challenging to sometimes be the only person John and Carolyn would confide in. While it was certainly an honour and a privilege, it was difficult to be so isolated.
Regarding John and Carolyn, how would you most like them to be remembered, and what would you say was their lasting legacy?
For John, it would be his honour, his character, and his foresight and accomplishments with George. For Carolyn, it would be her compassion, her friendship and of course, her style.