Hint: Michael Jackson was involved. (Yes, really.)

Perri Ormont Blumberg
August 8, 2018

Many know and revere Jackie Kennedy Onassis for her role as First Lady and for being a style icon. Few, however, know that Jackie O was also an accomplished book editor.

So how did she fall into this little-known career path? "After the death of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, Jackie married the uber-wealthy magnate, Aristotle Onassis, but when he passed in 1975, she found herself—a well-educated woman in her mid-40s—rattling around a 15-room Fifth Avenue apartment, according to Greg Lawrence, author of Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis," writes Lauren Cahn for Reader's Digest

"At the urging of her friend and former White House social secretary, Letitia Baldridge, Jackie contacted the president of Viking Books and negotiated herself a position as a 'consulting editor' for $10,000 per year (which would be the equivalent of about $45,000 per year today), shares Town and Country."

Kennedy went on to work as a book editor for the rest of her life—the next two decades. She spent two years at Viking before moving onto Doubleday, where she remained for 16 years. As a Washington Post obituary recounts, she edited three Bill Moyers bestsellers, a Martha Graham memoir, and Michael Jackson's Moonwalk, among others.

Perhaps, above all she did, Kennedy Onassis — who so frequently found herself in the public eye — enjoyed the anonymity of caressing a draft into a masterpiece: "One of the things I like about publishing is that you don't promote the editor -- you promote the book and the author," Jackie O once said in an interview with Publishers Weekly.