Carolyn Bessette Was Scared of the 'Kennedy Wife' Label & the Cheating History in JFK Jr.'s Family

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Marrying into the Kennedy family is not for the faint of heart. In addition to the press scrutiny, many of the women had to endure the philandering ways of their husbands. That is something Carolyn Bessette wanted nothing to do with in her relationship with John F. Kennedy Jr. She was her own woman, who was reportedly still scared that history would repeat itself.

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It wasn’t easy, though, because JFK Jr. was considered America’s most eligible bachelor in the 1990s, and Bessette often had to deal with women who would cross the line to try and sleep with him. “I see what goes on in this family, and it scares me,” Bessette shared with pal Stewart Price, according to The Kennedy Heirs biography. He promised her that JFK Jr. was not like his father, John F. Kennedy, whose cheating was notorious in the White House. “It’s a good thing, too. I know myself and I’m definitely not that pathetic Kennedy wife who’ll stay home with the kids while her husband is out screwing around. No. I’m that pissed-off Kennedy wife who’ll be in prison because she took matters into her own hands,” she responded.

John F. Kennedy Jr. (JFK Jr.) and Carolyn Bessette at a Paul Newman charity fundraiser in New York, NY circa the late 1990s.
Carolyn Bessette, John F. Kennedy Jr.

Bessette may have had her fears, but her husband was determined not to be “‘that creepy Kennedy who doesn’t care what his girl thinks about anything. I hate those guys,'” JFK Jr. told Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, a longtime friend of his. Richard Blow Bradley, the former executive editor at JFK Jr.’s George magazine, also echoed Barlow’s sentiments about his pal wanting to break the Kennedy infidelity cycle for good.

“When you were with them, you felt John had really put forth a new power couple in the family, and there had been a lot of them, like Jack and Jackie, Bobby and Ethel, Sarge and Eunice [Shriver]. John had always had a thing about the Kennedy power couples of the past, and this was how he wanted to view himself and Carolyn,” he explained. “So, I guess one could say that Carolyn was becoming the woman behind the man, and John was happy and proud about it. I think his mom would have been as well.”

Their public fights were fiery and often landed on the pages of tabloid magazines because the paparazzi were always following them. Despite JFK Jr.’s vow to remain faithful to his wife, he did inherit that Kennedy temper. However, Bessette was given the best advice from Ethel Kennedy, who reportedly told her, “Carolyn, I will tell you what I’ve told my daughters and my daughters-in-law. Be there for your husbands, but do not let them influence you into bad behavior. They will bait you. They always do. I’ve seen it for years. But you can’t take the bait. You must be stronger than that.” That was something all Kennedy wives had to endure.

Before you go, click here to see all the best pictures of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.

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