Why Sarah Jessica Parker Called Dating John Kennedy Jr. "The Kennedy Fiasco"
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
Who: Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress and shoe designer Sarah Jessica Parker, 54, and the late lawyer, journalist, magazine publisher, and former first son, John F. Kennedy Jr.
How They Met: According to The New York Times, the acronym-heavy pair’s paths first crossed “at the theater.” Parker’s director pal Adam Shankman told People in 2000 that the actress “called me, screaming, ‘You’re not going to believe who asked me out!’” when Kennedy made his move.
Why We Loved Them: Parker had just gotten out of a 7-year relationship with Robert Downey Jr., meaning Kennedy, America’s prince, was a rebound of sorts. A rebound, with John F. Kennedy Jr. Can you imagine? John, for his part, wasn’t the most serious dater at the time — his revolving door of A-listers had included rumored flings with Madonna and Cindy Crawford, and he had an on-and-off again relationship with actress Daryl Hannah.
When They Peaked: Celebrity biographer Christopher Andersen wrote in The Good Son: JFK Jr. and the Mother He Loved, that Parker once surprised Kennedy in an NSFW fashion when he returned home from a trip to L.A. He touched down at JFK (naturally) and heard someone call his name outside the terminal.
“The door of a limousine opened, and out popped Sarah Jessica Parker. Taking her cue from swimwear model Ashley Richardson, Parker wore a mink, high heels, and — as a titillating flash of her coat revealed to John — nothing else,” Andersen wrote. We can think of nothing more glamorous (though we’ll swap “mink” for “faux fur” if it’s all the same to you). Is it true? We hope so — it feels like an oddly specific story to concoct if not.
The Breakup: In 1992, Parker referred to her time with John and Jackie’s youngest as “the Kennedy fiasco.” They dated for about six months and the soon-to-be Sex and the City star found her suitor “nice,” but was overwhelmed by the notoriety that the relationship brought with it.
"We would go places where there wasn't a soul around, and the next day I'd see pictures of us there in the tabloids," she told the New York Times. “I have been a semi-public person since [starring in Annie on Broadway as a child], but I never had any idea what real fame was until I met John. He's a nice man, but for God's sake, I feel like I should apologize for dating him. It has become the defining factor in the person I am. It's pathetic. When I die, they are going to say, 'Oh, yeah, Sarah once dated John Kennedy.'" This was pre-Carrie Bradshaw, of course.
According to Andersen’s biography, the split also had something to do with Kennedy’s good looks. “What you have is wrong," she reportedly joked with him. "It's not right. It's unfair, as a woman, to have to stand next to you."
Parker has remained close-lipped about their relationship in the decades since Kennedy’s death. During a 2016 episode of Watch What Happens Live, pal Andy Cohen quizzed her on kissing the late political heir. “It was pleasant,” she said shyly. “He had exquisite hair,” she went on, “It was like a paintbrush, do you know what I mean?”
The SATC alum revealed her reservations about not sharing more details, explaining, “I feel like we’ve covered this territory, like if he were alive I’d feel more comfortable, if he were accomplishing all the things that I’m certain he was going to accomplish, and living a really joyful and adventurous life then I would probably feel more comfortable answering more questions about him.”
Though she didn’t speak about it on the record at the time, she was reportedly “devastated” by his 1999 accident.
Where They Are Now: Parker began dating fellow actor Matthew Broderick soon after splitting from Kennedy. They share three children (James, 16, and 9-year-old twins Marion and Tabitha) and are celebrating their 22nd anniversary this coming weekend.
SJP came into her own with HBO’s Sex and the City in 1998 and is currently starring in the network’s marital drama, Divorce.
In 1995 Kennedy launched George Magazine, a fashion-meets-politics monthly.
A year later JFK Jr. wed Calvin Klein publicist Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in a private ceremony off the coast of Georgia.
In the summer of 1999, Kennedy, who’d recently earned his pilot’s license, flew himself, Carolyn, and Carolyn’s sister Lauren Bessette to Martha’s Vineyard for the wedding of his cousin Rory Kennedy — sadly, the trio never made it to their destination. Kennedy’s plane went missing, and five days after takeoff all three bodies were pulled from the Atlantic. He was 38 years old.
Despite his untimely death, Kennedy’s legacy lives on. In 2000, the City University of New York and Reaching Up, a non-profit founded by the lawyer, established the JFK Jr. Institute for Worker Education, which is currently a branch of CUNY’s School of Professional Studies. Three years later Harvard followed suit, renaming the Kennedy School of Government the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum of Public Affairs.