Jackie, Ethel, Joan: The Women of Camelot (2001) TV
Director: Larry Shaw.
Starring: Jill Hennessy (Jackie Kennedy), Lauren Holly (Ethel Kennedy), Leslie Stefanson (Joan Kennedy), Daniel Hugh Kelly (John F. Kennedy), Robert Knepper (Robert F. Kennedy), Matt Letscher (Ted Kennedy), Harve Presnell (Joe Kennedy), Charmion King (Rose Kennedy), Matt Austin (Joseph Patrick Kennedy II), Russ Baker (Honor Guard Lieutenant), Paula Barrett (Woman in Garden), Steve Behal (Reporter #1), Wayne Best (George Smathers), Adam Cabral (John F. Kennedy Jr., 3 yrs), Laura Catalano (Blonde Star), Thom Christopher (Aristotle Onassis), Robert Church (Committee Leader), Christine Donato (Society Guest), Beau Dunker (Ted Kennedy Jr., 18 yrs.), David Eisner (Schiff), Greg Ellwand (Peter Wilson), Madison Fitzpatrick (Caroline, Years), Richard Fitzpatrick (Frank Peters), Gary Fruchtman (Reporter #3), Linda Goranson (Ladybird Johnson), Kate Hemblen (Joan's Nanny), Shannon Hile (Elaine Mitchell), Jeno Huber (Prince Stanislaw), Jamie Johnston (Young Patrick Kennedy), Geoff Kahnert (Sargent Shriver), Tamsin Kelsey (Eunice Kennedy), Robert B. Kennedy (Photographer), Sarah Lafleur (Marilyn Monroe), Shawn Lawrence (Alex Carter), Anne L'Espérance (Cathy), Louisa Martin (Maude Shaw), Kaya McGregor (Pat Kennedy), Nicole Michaux (Jean Ann Smith), Ken Murton (RFK's Photographer), Ron Payne (Dallas Doctor), Karl Pruner (Clinton Hill), Jeffrey Smith (Jim Ketchum), David Talbot (Reporter #2), Joy Tanner (Lee Bouvier), Jonathan Whitaker (Lem Billings), Brad Wietersen (Stephen Smith).
Jackie, Ethel and Joan Kennedy
In the Presidential election of 1960 Nixon only has 11,636,841 votes, while Jack Kennedy has 12,990,588 votes. The election is still very close.
Hyannis Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, November 9, 1960. A young woman, Joan Kennedy (wife to Ted Kennedy), comes into the Joseph P. Kennedy house to check on the election. Nixon says on television that Jack Kennedy will be the next President of the United States. Joseph P. is absolutely thrilled.
The Kennedys are playing touch football on the front lawn. Jack throws a pass and Ethel (Bobby Kennedy's wife) grabs it.
Joan Kennedy walks down to the beach to speak with Jackie Kennedy. They notice that secret service men are coming down to check in with them. Jackie says it's going to be a very dreary four years having the secret service always following them. Jackie says: "I won't allow it. I refuse." A little later the secret service fellow (Clinton Hill) says that the two women should go back to the house now because there is a press conference and Ambassador Kennedy (Joseph Patrick) wants to have a family photo. Jackie asks him and who is he to tell her what to do? He says he's Clint Hill and he will be with them for the duration.
St. Patrick's Day. Bobby's House, Georgetown, 1953. Jack introduces Jackie to his brother Bobby. Everyone is wearing black as instructed and Ethel in a green dress makes a grand entrance. Jackie actually starts laughing at Ethel's green dress. Ethel shouts: "Happy St. Pat's!" Jack tells Jackie that's Ethel and suggests that perhaps they will become good friends. Jackie says: "It will be very refreshing to know someone who has no interest in good fashion."
Bobby and a friend watch Jackie talking to a group of party-goers and he's impressed. He says this one just might be the one Jack needs. Ethel comes over to complain to Bobby: "She's the center of attention and it's my party!" Then Jackie comes over to Ethel and introduces herself. She also says that she has to leave. She's sorry, but she has a dreadful headache. Bobby has a good laugh about it and Ethel slaps at him to indicate her disapproval.
Jack goes outside with Jackie and asks if he should escort her home. She laughs and says no. There's too many important people in the house and if Jack wants to be President one day as he says, he needs to talk with them. He also is impressed by Jackie and now asks her if she would come to Cape Cod to meet the entire family.
Hyannis Port, 1953. Jackie gives Ethel a nice broach and apologizes about leaving the party early. Rose Kennedy comes over and asks them what they are talking about? Jackie says something inane and Rose grabs her chin to place it just right in the light. She says: "So lovely." Then she turns and leaves. Ethel says father Kennedy hasn't exactly led a virtuous existence, but his sons follow his every move. They all want to win and that makes lives very exciting. Being in the family is like being in the center of things relating to the nation.
Ethel says that Jackie is always asking questions about the family. That way she doesn't have to say anything about herself. Joan says she too has noticed that Jackie is like that.
Late November, 1960. Jackie has had her baby and both mother and baby boy are together. Joan comes in and Jackie starts crying saying that everything has gotten harder with the election and the campaigning. And now he's the President of the United States.
January 20, 1961. Jack gives his inaugural speech. He speaks of a torch having been passed to a new generation of Americans. He also says the now famous line: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country. And now Jackie and the President have to go to many of the inaugural balls. During one of the balls, Jackie says she is just tpo exhausted to go on. She is going to go home, but she wants Jack to stay.
Robert Kennedy becomes the United States Attorney General.
Hickory Hill, early 1961. Bobby pushes a young, pretty woman into his swimming pool and then he careful dries her off with a towel. Ethel sees this and she cries when she's alone in the kitchen. Bobby comes in a little later with Joan to tell Ethel that the two of them are a team. She knows that. The couple hugs each other. (Joan might have said something to Bobby.)
Hickory Hill, 1957. Ethel tells Jackie that she doesn't know why she and Jack sold their place. Jackie says the place was too big for them. Jackie is upset about something in a magazine. She shows the article to Ethel. The title of the article is: "The Senator and the Ladies" and has Jack Kennedy's picture prominently displayed. Ethel says: "He's just like his father." Jackie says she doesn't care what Jack does in his private life, but she doesn't like it being thrown in her face like this. She adds that Jack wasn't there when Arabella, their daughter, died. He stayed on vacation. "I don't want to be married to a man who is so selfish." Ethel says flat out that Jackie knows that Grandfather Kennedy will not let Jackie out of the marriage.
Jackie meets Grandpa Joe at a restaurant. He tells her he hears rumors that the marriage is not going well. He says: "Divorce is not a possibility." That would damage Jack's political future. "So, we have to find a way to make you happy." Jackie says she wants her own life. She wants her freedom She adds that she wants art and culture and travel. Joe says he wants her to have enough freedom to make her happy, but there can be no divorce.
May 25, 1961. The Kennedy women watch Jack on television talking about Americans taking a leading role in space exploration. He wants man to reach the moon before the decade of the 60's is over.
Joan and Bobby come into the party. Jack tells his friend George to look at Joan. They all call her the "dish".
Jackie tells George that she wants to redecorate the White House. She says you can't believe how dreary it is. George says that would cost a lot of money. Jackie says that if they could to get the White House designated a National Monument, it wouldn't cost as much. She also tells George that she knows that he and Jack would both rather be yachting on the Potomac River with lots of pretty girls, like Marilyn Monroe. George starts to deny it, but Jackie tells him she knows what's going on and she wonders when the two boys will grow up.
Joan finds another woman's necklace in her bed. She talks to Jackie who asks her if she wants to leave Teddy? Joan says no. She says she loves Ted. So, Jackie says then Joan has to build her own life within this Kennedy World. "No one woman is ever enough for a guy in that family."
Jackie is busy working on the redecoration when she finds Jack showing a pretty woman around the place. Jackie is not happy. Jack says that the young woman is new here. Jackie tells him that he better be careful, like he must be careful with Marilyn. "What if it leaks out before the next election?" Jack just keeps quiet.
With the family at Cape Cod, Joe Kennedy starts having trouble breathing. Rose becomes very concerned about him. Rose tells Jackie and Joan that grandfather may never walk or talk again. Jackie whispers to her father-in-law that she will be praying for him.
The nation has troubles stemming from the Civil Rights era. Jack declares his belief that all men are created equal. And they will enforce the law.
Teddy formally announces his running for the senate seat in Congress for Massachusetts.
Lawford-Kennedy Mansion, Santa Monica, 1962. The actor Peter Lawford married Patricia Kennedy. Bobby arrives at the party and is introduced to none other than the star Marilyn Monroe. She says she knows his brother Jack and she would like to ask him some questions. Later Marilyn dances with Bobby by the swimming pool. About Marilyn, Ethel says that this one is trouble, but Patricia says Marilyn is harmless.
London, March 1962. Lee Radziwill, sister to Jackie, tells Jackie how astonished she was that her own sister had an hour on television to provide a tour of the newly redecorated White House. Joan telephones Jackie from the USA to say that the newspapers are going to print that when Teddy was at Harvard he cheated on his Spanish exam. Jackie tells her that this is minor stuff. It will soon blow over with the arrival of some other scandal in the news. She also tells Joan to get involved in campaigning for her husband and that will take her mind off the matter. Joan does take her advice and handles the questions well when people sometimes asked her about the cheating incident. And Joan feels better after campaigning for her husband.
Glen Ora Estate, Virginia. Jackie jumps her horse over different obstacles. She tells her secret service man that, although the place is rented, it's the closest thing they have to a home. Clint Hill tells her that they need to talk about her schedule in New York, but Jackie says she's not going. Clint says that it's the President's birthday and Marilyn Monroe is going to sing for him. Jackie flat out tells him that she's not going to New York and that the administration is out of control where Marilyn is concerned.
Madison Square Garden, May 19, 1962. On the television Jackie watches Marilyn Monroe sing Happy Birthday to Mr. President. Jackie turns off the television.
When Jack gets home Jackie tells him that she wants him to stop seeing Marilyn. She's trouble. But Jack says she's harmless. Jackie says that as regards Marilyn: "I think you're being a fool." If he doesn't stop this, she and the kids will move out of the house and she will divorce Jack. She says she will leave him right before the 1964 Presidential election.
Joan commits a blooper when she casually mentions to reporters that Jack Kennedy's back is very bad and that he can barely pick up his own son.
July 1962. At a big family dinner in Cape Cod, Jackie says that one of the family members can rent their house for the summer. Isn't Jackie going to be here in the summer? No, she' going to Italy with her sister. Everyone wonders why Jack is not going with her. Jack changes the subject by saying that Joan told the press that his back was a problem. Bobby says quietly, but loud enough to be heard: "You never talk about his back." She is really caught off guard. She gets up from the table saying that she is sorry and that she didn't mean anything by her remark. Jackie gets up to comfort Joan and she tells Jack: "What's wrong with having a bad back? You are only human, after all."
Jackie says those guy are overreacting to what she said. Joan says her marriage just isn't working, in spite of doing everything that Jackie advised her to do. She says: "I just need to know that he loves me."
San Francisco, August 6, 1962. The news breaks of the death of Marilyn Monroe at her home in Hollywood, California. She was only 36 years old. Marilyn took an overdose of sleeping pills. Ethel hears the news first and goes and tells Bobby.
Ravello, Italy. At dinner one of the women says that Marilyn Monroe committed suicide. They discovered her nude in her bed. Jackie causes an awkward moment when she raises her voice to criticize everyone gossiping about Marilyn. Everyone looks shocked at her reaction. Jackie excuses herself from the table and her sister goes after her. Jackie tells Lee that everyone is responsible for their own lives and she's going home.
October 1962. The Soviets are putting up long-range nuclear missiles in Fidel Castro's Cuba. This becomes known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jackie brings in New England chowder soup for lunch. Jack asks to speak to her outside. He tells her about the crisis and says he can't allow this. He says he is thinking about putting up a naval blockade on Cuba. He sighs, saying: "We've never been at the brink like this before." Jack says they will get Jackie and the kids out of harm's way, but Jackie says no, she wants to be with Jack.
Jack tells the nation about the Cuban missile situation.
A crisis is averted over the Cuban-Soviet missiles. Jackie tells her husband that she is so very proud of him.
Ted Kennedy wins the election for Massachusetts senator. He hurts Joan's feelings when he gives her only a small kiss instead of a good hug and a good kiss.
Joan is lonely now. And she is drinking alone.
Jackie, Ethel and Joan are all pregnant at the same time.
June 26, 1963. Kennedy in Germanyn makes the famous statement in Berlin: "Ich bin ein Berliner." "I am a Berliner."
Jackie has a little boy, named Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. Jack has to tell Jackie that the little boy has a few problems. Patrick dies.
Jackie tells Ethel that she has to get away for awhile. Ethel is upset that Jackie wants to "carouse" with a known criminal (that is, rich man Aristotle Onasis). Jackie tells Ethel that she's going.
Skorpios, Greece. October, 1963. [Skorpios is a private island in the Ionian Sea off the western coast of Greece and just to the east of the big island of Lefkada.] Hugely wealthy tycoon Aristotle Onassis gives Jackie a tour of the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens. He tells her not to let her child's death destroy her.
The press takes photos of Jackie dancing with Onassis in Greece and Bobby and Ethel don't like it one bit. Jack wisely says: "It's all about the baby."
Jackie and the kids come home from Greece. Jack warmly greets them.
Jack is angry. The police chief in Birmingham, Alabama refused to hire "Negro" police officers. Jackie says and the press sure had a field day about her being with Mr. Onassis. Jack tells her she can make up for that by going to Texas with him. She says: "Okay. We need to be together for awhile."
November 22, 1963. Joan goes to a beauty salon to make herself look good for her 5th wedding anniversary. Bobby and Ethel are home around the swimming pool. Ethel gets a call from J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI. The call if for Bobby. Their friends hear the news of the shooting of JFK over the radio. One of the men rushes in saying: "They're saying the President's been shot." Bobby says he has to get to Dallas. Joan hears the news while at the beauty salon. While packing, Bobby gets the news that his brother is dead.
The head doctor tells Mrs. Kennedy that her husband has sustained a fatal wound. He cries. Mrs. Kennedy says: "I know."
Ted gets through to Bobby on the phone. Bobby tells Ted that he's dead. Ethel holds Bobby as he cries. Ted decides to go up to Hyannis Port by himself, leaving Joan alone in their house.
Jackie is with her husband's body. She takes off her wedding ring and tries to push the ring onto his wedding finger. The doctor gives her some lubricant so she can get the ring fully on his finger.
Air Force One, Friday, November 22. 1963. Jackie, still in her pink outfit, is in a trance. Lyndon Johnson, about to be President, tries to talk to her. He first has to snap her out of her nightmare. She says she keeps hearing the shots fired over and over again and seeing the blood. He snaps her out of it and asks her for her help in showing the entire world that democracy is still going strong in the United States. Jackie says, yes, Mr. President. He asks her if she wants to change her outfit, but she says she wants the people to see what they did to Jack. Jackie is present when Johnson in sworn into the office of the presidency.
Joan Kennedy is all alone once again, this time watching the television of the events of the assassination. Bobby is with Jackie now.
November 24, 1963. It's the day of the funeral. Joan is drinking again. She is afraid that something might happen to Bobby or Teddy.
November 25, 1963. The burial of the President in Arlington Cemetery. Little John Kennedy salutes as the casket passes by him. The flag over the casket is folded and given to Jackie. The eternal light is lit by Jackie.
Hyannis Port, Thanksgiving Day, 1963. Rose Kennedy expresses her wish that Bobby and Ethel were here with them on Cape Cod. Teddy comments that Bobby is having a hard time coping with the death of Jack. Jackie shows up and Teddy says thank God she's here. Jackie demands to see grandfather, so Rose takes her upstairs. Jackie goes in and closes the door behind her. She says to him: "I feel as if my life is over and I'm going to spend the rest of my life waiting for it to be really over." She has the flag draped over his son's casket. She gives the flag to Jack's father.
Washington, D.C., December 1963. Jackie says to her sisters-in-law that she will be staying in a friend's place in Georgetown until she decides what to do. Ethel wants Jackie to come live with her and Bobby. Jackie insists that she needs her privacy. Ethel says: "You don't like me much, do you Jackie?" This frankness upsets Jackie. As soon as Ethel leaves, Jackie says goodbye to Joan and leaves.
Jackie looks over her scrapbook of photos and cries.
Joan and Jackie have lunch together. Joan urges her to take a trip somewhere to get away. She also says she is pregnant again.
Bobby has the limousine stop at Jackie's place. He apologizes to Ethel but he just has to see Jackie. Bobby explains that he had to be near Jackie. She says: "Near him."
LBJ calls Jackie on the phone. He wishes her a Merry Christmas and asks that she come and see him at home at the White House. She says she will.
Ethel tells Jackie that LBJ is just using her. Every time the man talks to Jackie, he goes straight to the press. Ethel wants Bobby to run for the presidency in 1964, but Bobby says no. Bobby also says that the President has done some good things, such as following up on Jack's civil rights dreams. Ethel still doesn't like the guy. Jackie says he's a sweet man.
The White House, Spring 1964. Lady Bird Johnson and Ethel talk about Jackie and Joan. She says she's sorry that Joan lost her baby and that Lyndon sure would like it if Jackie came for a visit. Ethel says she doesn't think Jackie will ever come back to the White House. Too many memories for her. While they talk, Lyndon and Bobby comes out after their talk. Bobby tells Ethel that there's nothing left for him in this town.
Springfield, Massachusetts, June 19, 1964. Teddy is running for the senate of Massachusetts. On his way back to Massachusetts, Teddy's plane crashes and he is badly hurt. His back is broken in three places. It's even possible that if Ted does survive, he could be a paraplegic. Joan goes to see her husband in his hospital bed.
Jackie and Bobby come to see Joan and Teddy. Joan and Jackie hug. Joan says there's a curse on the Kennedy family. Jackie tells her that she simply can't think that way.
Since Teddy can't campaign, the family and the campaign ask for Joan to stump for Teddy. Joan is actually excited about the idea. She confers with Teddy while he's still in the hospital. And now the President of the United States calls Joan on the phone. He just tells her to go out there and do a good job. They need her out there on the campaign trial. Joan is thrilled and honored by the telephone call.
New York City, Summer 1964. Jackie shows Bobby and Ethel the apartment she is thinking of renting. Ethel says if Jackie doesn't rent the 14-room apartment, they might. Bobby tells her he is going to run for the Senate from New York. Jackie says that she would do anything for Bobby and his campaign.
Many think Bobby is just using New York as a stepping stone to the presidency, but Bobby says he wants to serve New York in the senate. Bobby is very welcomed in New York. Ethel and Joan campaign for him and Bobby is elected the senator from New York. And in Massachusetts Teddy wins 71% percent of the vote.
November 1964. Joan is on television from Berlin, Germany speaking about her brother-in-law Jack Kennedy. She repeats the famous phrase: "Ich bin ein Berliner." Jackie watches and thinks Joan did a wonderful job.
And now Aristotle Onassis comes to visit Jackie with lots of house-warming gifts. Ethel has another child.
February 1968. The situation in Vietnam is getting worse and splitting the country in two. Ethel urges Bobby to run against Johnson. She says he's the only man who can give this country hope again. Bobby does run for the presidency.
April 4, 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated. Bobbie breaks the news to a group of black people. He then makes a great extemporaneous speech to a large, upset black crowd. He talks of how his brother was killed like Martin by a white man, but they must not turn to hate. Love is still the answer. We must work together to make life better for all in this country. Joan and Jackie watch the speech on television.
Bobby calls Jackie to tell her he's concerned about the bad press she is getting by deciding to go to Greece with Onassis. Jackie says she's not going to just keep acting the role of the widow of John F. Kennedy. She hangs up on Bobby. Jackie says she is going to Greece for the summer to decide what she wants to do. Ethel tells Jackie that this Onassis affair is not good for Bobby. Joan is there too, but she says Jackie's plans sound good to her.
LBJ says he will not run for the presidency of the United Sates. Ethel is thrilled about the news. Jackie says "we" will be back in the White House. Ethel asks Jackie what does she mean by "we" will be back in the White House. This upsets Jackie and she goes outside. Ethel runs after Jackie but the secret service agents stops her, saying that Mrs. Kennedy needs to be alone now. Ethel asks the agent to tell Jackie she's sorry. He says he will tell Mrs. Kennedy.
Los Angeles, California. June 4, 1968. Bobby wins the California primary vote. It's a great night for Bobby Kennedy and his supporters. The place is so crowded at the hotel that they decide to take a short cut through the kitchen. There Bobby is assassinated by a Palestinian-American upset with Bobby seeming to show favoritism for Israel over Palestine. By the time Ethel gets to the hospital, Bobby is already dead. She tells Bobby that it's going to be alright. She promises that he will be okay.
Joan gets the news in France of the death of Bobby Kennedy. She talks with Teddy on the phone. Teddy and Jackie are at the hospital. She goes in with Ethel into the hospital room.
Teddy gives a speech at Bobby's funeral. Bobby said many times: "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."
Jackie says that the first thing she is going to do after this is over is get the hell out of this country. Ethel receives the flag from Bobby's casket.
Ethel becomes suicidal and Jackie comes to speak with her. Joan won't open the door. She passes out a note to Jackie and Teddy: "Humiliated by the threat; would never commit suicide. Sorry for being so ridiculous." Then she asks through the door for them to go away. She will be alright.
Skorpios, Greece. August 1968. Teddy talks to Aristotle about Jackie. If Jackie marries Aristotle, she will lose her $175,000 dollars through the Kennedy trust. Aristotle says he will give Jackie much more than that amount every year.
Joan and Ethel go out to the cemetery. Ethel introduces Bobby's newest daughter Rory Elizabeth Katherine to Bobby at his grave.
Jackie and her children go to see Ethel. And once again they battle over the Aristotle Onassis matter. Jackie gets insulted and leaves. Ethel shouts that she didn't mean what she said. Jackie turns around and says: "You must leave me alone."
Five years after the assassination of President Kennedy, Jackie marries Onassis.
Teddy has to telephone Joan and tell her that he drove off a bridge during the night, and a girl sleeping in the back seat drowned. Joan asks who was she? Mary Jo Kopechne. Joan knows the girl. He crashed off the Chappaquiddick bridge. Joan hangs up on Teddy. The Kennedy women all get together again. Joan is hard on Teddy. Ted gets Joan to call Mary Joe's parents and say how sorry they are for what happened to their daughter. Kennedy will only serve probation for the accident.
November 1969. Hyannis Port. Ted talks to his mother Rose. Grandfather Joe is dying. The Kennedys gather around his bedside.
Joan gives a piano recital. The audience responds very favorably. Joan downs two large liquor drinks right away. Later she gets into a car accident. Ethel comes to see her. She tells Joan that she has to get some help for her alcoholism.
Hyannis Port, 1979. Joan is back from rehab and looking so much better. She lives separated from Ted. She tells Jackie that they want Ted to run for the presidency.
Teddy wants to run. He says people are sick of President Jimmy Carter. But he will not run without the support of his family and that includes his wife. Joan offers her support. The problem is that there been too much trouble between them. They can't even get a photo taken of them for the campaign because they can't act like they love each other.
Then Ted does a disastrous performance in an interview on television about his marriage. Joan tells Jackie and Ethel that the presidency for Ted is just not going to happen. He will pull out of the race at the Democratic convention.
Democratic National Convention. New York, August 12, 1980. Ted congratulates Jimmy Carter on his re-nomination to run for president in 1980 against Ronald Reagan. He gives a good speech about his run for the candidacy: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." The audience really claps hard for Ted.
"Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis died in New York, on May 19, 1994 of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Ethel Skakel Kennedy never remarried. She still lives at Hickory Hill. Joan Bennett Kennedy's divorce from Ted was finalized in 1983. She never remarried."
Good film. It was a great review of events I lived through, but it gives a lot of insight into the privates lives of the Kennedys. You see how Ethel and Jackie didn't get along very well, how Jackie knew about Jack's philandering and about Marilyn Monroe, how upset Ethel and Bobby were over Jackie's being with Onassis, how Jackie reacted to the death of the President at Parkland hospital, and many other incidents. I enjoyed the film immensely. Jill Hennessy (as Jackie Kennedy), Lauren Holly (as Ethel Kennedy) and Leslie Stefanson (as Joan Kennedy) were all good in their roles.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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