Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
"I hope," began one guest, nervously, "that you didn't use my name with what I told you."
Kitty Kelley, the author, assured her friend she had not, that there was absolutely no way anybody could figure out what Priscilla Crane Baker had told Kelley for her new book. "Jackie Oh!"
After all, Kelley pointed out later, it wasn't a party for sources. Which, in a way, was a very good thing. Of the 100 or more friends at the Sulgrave Club Wednesday night celebrating publication by Lyle Stuart of Kelly's book on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, none - that is, except Baker - had provided so much as a single word of information.
"What Kitty did," said Baker, "was ask what I knew about Jackie Kennedy. I told her what I knew and said she'd have to check it out." Beyond that Baker would not go, saying, "the Kennedys are very powerful, and there are a lot of them. I come from Massachusetts, so I know. But no, I've never met any of them."
Kelley's book is one of two heading neck-and-neck to the nation's bookstores with the latest embellishments on the saga of what Kelley calls "the most famous woman in the world," and Stephen Birmingham, in his book "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis," goes one better and calls "the most famous woman in history since Cleopatra."
Kelley claims hers was written at the insistence of her publisher. "Every single feeling I had about her was shot to hell." When efforts to interview the subject proved unsuccessful, Kelley said she could only turn to other sources. There was Janet Auchineloss. Onassis' mother; Jamie Auchineloss, the half-brother, former sen. George Smathers of Florida, a Kennedy family friend.
"I don't know of any Kennedy intimate who has ever before opened up the way Smathers did. He was invited," Kelley said, pretending to look around, "but my, my, my, I don't see him any place."
Some who did show up at the invitation of hostess Leslie Cantrell Smith included Scooter and Dale Miller, Jayne Ikard, Warren and Sonia Adler, Garnett and Constantine de Stackelberg, Jack and Esther Coopersmith, Sandy McElwaine, Helen Dudman, Evelyn Y. Davis, Anne Chamberlin, Kelley's attorney Ian Volner ("he's the man who's going to keep me out of jail") and her husband Michael Edgley.
"He wouldn't let me take his name," she said. "I got in so much trouble with my own."