Lee Radziwill, 1933–2019
The socialite who lived in Camelot’s shadow
Caroline Lee Bouvier was born in New York City and “brought up amid great wealth,” said The Washington Post. Her father was a Wall Street stockbroker, and her mother hailed from a prominent Southern family. “My mother endlessly told me I was too fat, that I wasn’t a patch on my sister,” Radziwill recalled. But by the time Jacqueline became first lady in 1961, Radziwill “was an A-list socialite in her own right,” thanks to her second husband, the exiled Polish nobleman Prince Stanislas Albert Radziwill. “When JFK was assassinated in 1963, Radziwill flew immediately from her London home to Washington to console her sister,” said The Times (U.K.). She remained at her sibling’s side throughout the funeral ceremonies; behind the scenes, she pinned a note to Jackie’s pillow, expressing love and admiration for her bravery.
Radziwill “made several attempts for professional recognition,” said The New York Times. In the late 1960s, she appeared in a short-lived stage revival of The Philadelphia Story (“A star is not born,” sniped the Chicago Tribune) and a panned TV play, Laura. Later, Radziwell launched an interior design firm and became a brand ambassador for fashion designer Giorgio Armani. “I’ve been far more successful than I ever imagined,” Radziwill said in 1976. “I’m nobody’s kid sister.”