— Nearly 12 years after John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette died in a plane crash, a former assistant has revealed in a new book that she urged Bessette to take that fateful trip.
RoseMarie Terenzio, who worked as Kennedy’s assistant beginning in 1994 and eventually became his confidante, shares details about the famous couple and their tragic deaths in her book, “Fairytale Interrupted,” which hits shelves Jan. 24.
Kennedy, once labeled “America’s Most Eligible Bachelor” by People magazine, began a serious relationship with Bessette in 1994, shortly after the death of his mother. Terenzio, who spoke to People magazine, revealed for the first time how the couple got engaged.
“They had been out fishing on a boat and John turned to her and said, ‘You know fishing's a lot better with two,’” Liz McNeil of People magazine told TODAY. “So, it was a very unique sort of proposal and very charming and offbeat.”
Despite being one of the most photographed couples in the world, Terenzio says that Kennedy and Bessette were surprised by the attention generated by their 1996 wedding — which was supposed to be a secret. "That Monday after their secret wedding, they called RoseMarie and they said, ‘Did it make the papers?’” McNeil said. "And she said, 'Are you kidding me? It's everywhere.'"
But living under a microscope was something Bessette wasn’t fully prepared for, and often led to turmoil within the relationship, according to Terenzio.
“The meaner the stories in the press, the more Carolyn retreated into herself,” Terenzio wrote in the book. “The process was heartbreaking to witness and made me want to kill people who said, ‘Well, she knew what she was getting into when she married John.’ How could Carolyn possibly have known the extent of it beforehand? I sure had no idea what I was getting into when I took the job with John.”
By the summer of 1999, the couple’s relationship was strained. As a result of the tension, Terenzio recalled, Bessette refused to attend the wedding of Kennedy’s cousin Rory.
The morning of the wedding, Terenzio got on the phone with Bessette and urged her to go.
"RoseMarie spoke to Carolyn and told her that she thought that she should go," said McNeil. "That it was a family wedding, she should be there."
Bessette, along with her sister Lauren, did join Kennedy on July 16, 1999. The three never made it to their destination, as Kennedy lost control of the small plane he was piloting, and they died when it crashed off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
Now, McNeil relayed, Terenzio looks back at the conversation with regret but finds some solace in the fact that Bessette made her own decision.
“I think one thing she feels is that Carolyn in the end did what she wanted to do,” McNeil said.