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Lot #27
Jacqueline Kennedy Archive of (7) Letters and (2) Voice Message Cassette Tapes

Letter archive and voice messages from Jackie O. as a Doubleday editor, “fascinated” by a proposed tale of Russian espionage

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Letter archive and voice messages from Jackie O. as a Doubleday editor, “fascinated” by a proposed tale of Russian espionage

Archive of seven letters from Jackie Onassis as an associate editor at the Doubleday publishing house, each signed either “Jackie” or “Jackie Onassis,” all of which were sent to attorney Philip Myers, who had contacted Jackie in hopes of securing a deal for a Russian spy novel he had written. The archive consists of four ALSs, one ANS, and two TLSs dated between 1992 and 1994, the last of which is dated to May 18th, the day before she succumbed to non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 64. Included with the correspondence are two cassette tapes containing brief voice messages sent to Myers in 1992, which are transcribed as follows:

Message 1: “Mr. Myers, this is Jacqueline Onassis in New York on Wednesday morning January 8th at 11:10. If you can call me at 212 492 9747. The mornings are best for me. But, I'm fascinated by your, by what you sent me and I'd love to talk about it. Bye.”

Message 2: “Mr. Myers, it's Jacqueline Onassis. I'm home this evening in New York, Tuesday. The number is 212 628 2403. Could you call me, thanks. Bye.” Myers would later write a book entitled Squished: Jackie Kennedy, Espionage, Murder and Me, which details his and Jackie’s two-and-a-half-year collaboration on his novel.

The archive’s letters, which amount to eight total pages and are written on various personal and Doubleday letterhead and stationery, are listed chronologically, with the exception of her final letter, a TLS postmarked May 18, 1994: “How thoughtful of you to send me the beautiful poster. It’s a perfect present and one which I’ll enjoy immensely.” In her own hand, Jackie adds the salutation, “Dear Philip,” and the valediction, “It is truly breathtaking, thank you again, best always.”

ALS, no date: “I would be most grateful if you could give this letter to Arseny Berezin, thanking him for the beautiful book he sent me via Paula. Your trip to St. Petersburg sounds fascinating. I am sorry I missed you here but hope for better luck next time.” Includes the original mailing envelope hand-addressed by Jackie, who adds her initials on the reverse flap, “J. K. O.”

ALS, January 15, 1992: “Here is the correspondence I told you about. It isn’t as long as I remembered—and perhaps only of marginal interest but you will enjoy reading it.”

ALS, February 6, 1992: “What beautiful flowers you sent me. I was very touched and they are the joy of our office. I believe Paul Litzky has called you. She is a distinguished person who used to be head at foreign rights here. I hope she can help. I haven’t heard from agent Mort Janklow or from the NY Review of books. If you and Paul don’t hit on a plan I think you should get an agent who knows books and films. Paula may be able to suggest one.” Morton Janklow is a prominent literary agent whose client list includes Barbara Taylor Bradford, Judith Krantz, Danielle Steel, Sidney Sheldon, Thomas Harris, Barbara Walters, Anne Rice, four U.S. presidents, and Pope John Paul II.

ANS, June 25, 1992: “I do hope you will find this book enthralling.” Accompanied by a Doubleday mailing label addressed to Myers, to whom Jackie sent the book The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II by Edvard Radzinsky, one of many successful books edited and promoted by Onassis.

TLS, April 21, 1993: “Thanks for taking the time to write me about your trip to Leningrad and for the transcript of the tape Dr. Gerezin made. I am sorry I must disappoint you as to the Visions of the Future Seminar as I have no contacts with foundations that might help underwrite the event. I hope through other sources you will be able to get the necessary funding.” In her own hand, Jackie adds the salutation, “Dear Mr. Myers,” and the valediction, “You have put so much energy into this—I do hope things one day will work out as you wish.”

ALS, December 22, 1993: “Thank you for your Christmas note and for reporting on all your Russian adventures. They sound truly fascinating and full of promise. I send you all my happiest wishes for Christmas and the New Year.” In overall fine condition.

Accompanied by a TLS from Nancy Tuckerman, the White House Social Secretary during the Kennedy administration, who, after the Kennedy assassination, remained the personal secretary to Jackie Kennedy until the latter's death in 1994. The letter, dated May 16, 1994, in full: “Mrs. Onassis has asked me to write thanking you for the book you sent her and to say she was glad to hear from you. She hopes you will understand why she is not writing you herself, but right now she is concentrating on regaining her strength after an operation.”

Jacqueline Kennedy's love of books was well known, and in September 1975, six months from the death of her second husband, Aristotle Onassis, she reentered the workforce for the first time since 1953. The 46-year-old former first lady had been given a consulting editor position at Viking Press earning $200 a week. However, when Viking opted to publish the Jeffrey Archer novel Shall We Tell the President?, which featured a plot about an assassination attempt on Ted Kennedy, Jackie resigned and took the job of associate editor at Doubleday, a company she would remain with for the rest of her professional career.

In December 1993, Jackie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She continued to work at Doubleday, but by May the cancer had spread to her spinal cord, brain, and liver and was then deemed terminal. On May 18th, the very day this letter was postmarked, Onassis made her last trip home from New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. The following night at 10:15 p.m., she died in her sleep in her Manhattan apartment at age 64, with her children by her side. An insightful and poignant collection from the former first lady, one which further emphasizes the grace and strength that she displayed during life’s most challenging moments.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Animation
  • Dates: #637 - Ended June 15, 2022