1972 Iranian Interview

Research by Steven L. Brawley

Jackie's May 1972 Interview with Maryam Kharazmi, Kayhan Newspaper

Jackie in Tehran

Our correspondent in Tehran is a beautiful 22- year-old Iranian girl named Maryam Kharazmi. Maryam works as a junior reporter for a local newspaper, the "Kayhan International."

Attractive, perceptive, industrious and personable, Maryam several weeks ago achieved a scoop. She interviewed Jacqueline Kennedy .Onassis who nowadays avoids reporters as she avoids the plague. 

"Jackie was here with her husband," Maryam explains, "at the invitation of the National Iranian Oil Company, which is interested in working out with Onassis the purchase of some oil tankers. 

"Naturally, Jackie had nothing to do with those discussions," Maryam reports, "so I decided I would try to interview her on her free time. I heard that she and Onassis were dining at the Hilton Hotel here one evening, so I raced home, climbed into my best clothes, and got to the hotel. They were having cocktails with Reza Fallah - he's senior executive of National Iranian Oil - and his daughter and some other friends.

"I waited an hour until cocktail time was over, then I edged my way over to Jackie. 'Hello, Mrs. Onassis,' I said, 'I know you hate to talk to reporters. But I've waited such a long time for just a few short minutes with you.' "

Jackie smiled at me, then politely explained that she was there with friends but that she might consider giving me a short interview some time later.

"I started to leave with her and her guests when suddenly a very charming gentleman, short but appealing, took my hand and kissed it. 'Why haven't we been introduced?' he asked.

"I was too astonished to say anything. Luckily Reza Fallah came to my help. He introduced me to Aristotle Onassis.

"'I never know why,' Onassis said, 'but instead of pretty girls being introduced to me they are always introduced to my wife.' "

The following night I met Jacqueline Onassis again, this time at a party given for her and her husband by Fallah. She looked stunning in an orange chiffon evening gown. True to her word, she granted me an interview.

I asked her what differences there were in her being Mrs. John F. Kennedy and then Mrs. Aristotle Onassis. 

"People often forget," she answered, "that I was Jacqueline Lee Bouvier before being Mrs. Kennedy or Mrs. Onassis. Throughout my life, however, I've always tried to remain true to myself. And I'll continue to do this so long as I live. I am today what I was yesterday and with luck what I will be tomorrow."

She reminisced about her days in Washington, explaining that she was working as a journalist- photographer conducting interviews when she met Senator Kennedy. "I don't dislike reporters," she declared. "It's just that I get afraid of them when they come at me in a crowd. I don't like crowds because I don't like impersonal masses. They remind me of swarms of locusts. But having been a reporter myself, I'm aware of what problems a journalist encounters. I used to make appointments in advance to interview some very important person. Then he'd cancel at the last minute or wouldn't show up and I'd have to take shots of somebody else and talk to chance acquaintances."

Maryam reports that Jackie was exceedingly "clever, shrewd, and professionally experienced in the ways she artfully, dodged particular questions." When I asked her if she felt better as private Mrs. Onassis than public Mrs. Kennedy, she smiled and replied, "That's a leading question. I'm a woman above everything else. I love children and I think that seeing one's children grow up is the most delightful thing any woman can think about."

"I have been through a lot and suffered a great deal. But I've had lots of happy moments as well. I've come to the conclusion that we must not expect too much from life. We must give to life at least as much as we get from it. At its best life is not too secure and one must seize every moment as it comes."

"Every moment one lives is different from the other," she went on, "the good, the bad, the hardships, the joys, the tragedies, loves and happiness are all interwoven into one indescribable whole that is called life. You cannot separate the good from the bad. And perhaps, there is no need to do so."

Maryam asked Mrs. Onassis if stories about her quick temper were accurate.

Said Jackie: "The truth of the matter is that I am a very shy person. People take my diffidence for arrogance 'and my withdrawal from publicity as a sign of my supposedly looking down on the rest of mankind." 

Our correspondent in Tehran summed up Mrs. Jacqueline Onassis as "charming, plebian, forthright, polite, with practically no makeup, but with large, bright, glowing eyes the basic ingredient of her facial beauty."

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2002-2015. All Rights Reserved.