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CRC Blog On RoseMarie Terenzio’s
Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss
Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss
“Once Upon A Time”
I love to read anything about the Kennedys – because it makes me feel a stronger connection with my mother who passed away on New Year’s Eve 2003. She was fascinated with Kennedys. In fact when President Kennedy was assassinated she and her best friend Sandy, who now lives somewhere in Australia, attended church night services where they walked down the aisle and prayed in the pulpit, dedicating their lives to God to live and look as much like First Lady Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy as possible. Of course, naturally, my mother outgrew this commitment and fortunately God did not take her seriously. She married my father in June of 1966 and went on to have three children my older sister, my brother eight years my junior, and myself.
My mother passed on her love of the Kennedys to me, and, when I was 12 years old, gave me my first ever People Magazine with John F Kennedy Jr. and his older sister Caroline Kennedy on the cover. I still have that magazine and thought it is tattered and well read – it is only of sentimental value – something that reminds me of my mom so much more important than my fascination with the Kennedys; the Kennedys just a way to connect with my mother.
On January 24, 2012, Gallery Books published RoseMarie Terenzio’s memoir Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, And Loss with book design by Davina Mock-Maniscalco; Design by Janet Perr; Front Cover Photograph by Evan Agostini/Getty Images; and Back cover photo by Christian Lucidi.
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After I read Rosemarie Terenzio’s book I am convinced that she and I both walked in the same shoes – thinking it a fairy tale to be a part of the Kennedy mystique; only to realize in the end that it is our roots, our own family, that make us the valuable individuals we are.
Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss is about Rosemarie’s fairy tale friendship with John F Kennedy Jr. Rosemarie was John F Kennedy Jr.’s personal assistant, publicist, and personal confidante from 1994 until his death in 1999 during the years that he was working almost 24/7 on his political/pop culture magazine GEORGE. . .
Rosemarie’s fairy tale begins when, once upon a time, Rosemarie Terenzio is born in January of 1966, to an Italian and Catholic couple, Anthony and Marion Terenzio, who were blue-collar hard workers. Her father Anthony was a staunch Republican who did not think highly of Democrats, especially the Kennedy family. Anthony owned several businesses that never seemed to prosper; nonetheless, he was a hard worker and loved his daughters.
RoseMarie’s mother Marion worked at least two jobs to put food on the table for RoseMarie and her three older sisters: Anita, Andrea, and Amy. The family of six had plenty of love, plenty of affection, plenty of emotion, and plenty of dedication but they never seemed to have plenty of money.
One of RoseMarie’s first memories is when she is six years old on Christmas day, running to the kitchen where her mother was seated drinking black coffee and smoking Kool cigarettes. The little girl was holding her baby doll she received for Christmas, telling her mother that she was bored because she didn’t get enough fun gifts. Her mother responded by snatching the doll, slamming it against the wall, and then throwing the mangled body at her six-year-old daughter who was crying.
Another memory was when her mother cleaned her room but within two days daughter RoseMarie made a cyclone mess of her room. Her mother came in, and gathered everything on the floor, tossed it into her doll’s crib, and then opened the window and dumped the contents on the family’s front porch.
But nothing could rile her mother’s Sicilian temper to the boiling point than when she was protecting her daughters, particularly her youngest child RoseMarie. The priests made it a rule that in order for children to get their report cards they had to be up to date on their payments for the St. Dominic’s Catholic school, where RoseMarie attended as a third grader. RoseMarie described her parents as never having two dimes to rub together. So when report cards were due RoseMarie came home empty handed and was crying at the kitchen table. Her mother asked her what was wrong and RoseMarie told her. Marion called the Bishop to explain the situation and asked him to change their policy and he refused. Two days later on a Sunday, the Bishop greeted Marion and her four daughters at Catholic Mass.
“Bishop, you can kiss my ass before I’ll kiss that ring.”
My report card was waiting for me at school on Monday morning.
RoseMarie recognized that yes her mom had a temper, and yes she inherited her temper from her mom but her temper became her asset enabling her along with good Italian hard work to achieve her dreams of education and working as a junior-level publicist at a midtown PR company and then finally landing a job with the Manhattan pubic relations firm, PR/NY owned by Michael J. Berman (Below).
Soon she would meet Michael J. Berman’s future partner John F Kennedy Jr. in what would be a frustrating meeting. She buzzed in a man she did not recognize but each time she entered the code they would reach for the knob at the same time, making her have to do the code all over again. Finally after numerous times she expressed her frustration with him.
“Sorry,” came the muted reply.
One again I entered the code and was finally able to open the door,
Rosemarie had enough respect to know she was rude to John F Kennedy Jr. but that is where it ended. As she writes in Fairy Tale Interrupted, there were two kinds of people – those who obsessed over the Kennedys and those who did not. And she was of the later. So her view of JFK Jr. was not that complimentary and in fact was a view of frustration. And her frustration only increased when days later she walked into her cozy little office to find John and another man placing all of her possessions into a cardboard box, along with her picture of celebrity idol and crush Howard Stern removed from her office wall.
“Well , it’s not okay.”
“We can figure this out.” John said.
“Figure this out? Clearly we’re not figuring out anything, because you have already packed everything up!”
“I’m sure we can find some sort of solution.”
“I don’t know why you need an office, anyway. You don’t even have a job.”
“Maybe you get away with this everywhere else you go, but not here.”
RoseMarie learns from her boss Michael J. Berman that she still has a job but must move to a different office along with a retort that she could have been arrested in some states for the way she talked to John. RoseMarie could care less. In fact she was furious and decided to do what her mother would do with that very silent and dangerous Sicilian temper: ignore John.
For weeks John would come to the office and say good morning specifically to her and she would ignore him In fact when she first noticed him she would immediately pick up the phone and act like she was talking to someone until he disappeared from her compete view. After a month John tried a different approach.
He was standing in the doorway giving me the finger. I burst out laughing. He finally got me.
And RoseMarie got John; and he began calling her Rosie, a name that no one except family members ever called her. Soon John would become her boss in what would be called Random Ventures, the offices of George Magazine; where Rosie utilized her precious Sicilian temper to protect him, to defend him, to help him become organized which was a miraculous feat, and to do all the duties she needed to do in order for him to succeed and make George a success, to make his private life a success, one of which was for him to marry Carolyn Bessette in secret without the press knowing.
As we danced together, I felt every eye in the room trained on us. I had spent countless hours making fun of the way other people got swept up by his charm. But in that moment I felt like a princess.
But in the end RoseMarie realizes that all along she has always been a princess, especially when her father Anthony tells her how proud and impressed he is with her.
But death soon comes like a thief in the night taking away the brother she never had; leaving her in a fit of depression, spinning out of control. Soon she finds herself surrounded by death at every turn and nothing seems to pull her out until she reads a letter from her mother, telling her how proud she is of her. Only then does she realize she has and will always be a princess – not based on the Kennedy mystique, being John F. Kennedy Jr.’s personal assistant but based on who she is, an Italian Princess with a Sicilian Temper that got her where she is today.
And she’s been flying high and in clear blue skies ever since.
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