Audio tapes reveal Jackie Kennedy's catty side

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy, photographed in the White House in June 1961 AP Photo

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy is photographed in the White House on June 19, 1961, in Washington.
AP Photo

(CBS) Now we know why Jackie Kennedy was such a sought-after dinner guest.

It wasn't for her iconic stature as former first lady and wife to a Greek a shipping magnate. And it wasn't for her doe-eyed beauty and fabulous haute couture wardrobe.

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As in the French salons she tried to bring to the White House, it was because of the conversation - the gossip, mainly, and the way she could skewer an acquaintance with just a few words.

In the just-released book and audiotapes, made from interviews she gave almost 50 years ago, we get these examples:

Charles DeGaulle - She refers to the French president as "that egomaniac" and "that spiteful man."

Indira Gandhi - The future Indian prime minister is described as a "prune - bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman."

Martin Luther King  Jr.- He called him "tricky" and a "phony" and said of him, "I just can't see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, 'That man's terrible.'"

Lady Bird Johnson-  She described her successor as first lady as a "trained hunting dog." (She would later soften that opinion.)

Pat Nixon -  Mrs. Nixon, a future first lady, was also mentioned in the interviews. Kennedy said she worried that the public wanted her to get a "frizzy perm and be like Pat Nixon."

Sukarno - She described the former Indonesian president as a lecher, saying he left "a bad taste in your mouth."

Eunice Kennedy Shriver - Even Kennedy family members were not free from disparagement. She said her husband's sister pestered him to make Sargent Shriver head of HEW (Health, Education and Welfare) because "she wanted to be a cabinet wife."

  • Mary-Jayne McKay

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