Singer-songwriter Carly Simon has restated and added details to a story first told in a memoir by ex-husband Jim Hart, about the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis double-dating with them and actor Alec Baldwin.
In her newly published second memoir, "Touched by the Sun: My Friendship with Jackie," the 74-year-old Simon recalls an undated outing to Broadway's "Dancing at Lughnasa," which opened in October 1991 for a Tony Award-winning yearlong run. Simon was attending with her second husband, Long Beach-raised insurance broker turned poet Hart, but Onassis' partner at the time, businessman Maurice Tempelsman, was out of town.
According to Simon in an excerpt in People magazine, the former first lady's next choices for a fill-in were media executive Joe Armstrong, who lunched with her weekly, and filmmaker Ken Burns. Neither accepted the offer. Burns' representative, contacted by Newsday, had "never heard this one before" and asked the filmmaker for confirmation. Burns declined to comment. Armstrong could not be located.
The Southampton-born Onassis, then 62, suggested Baldwin, originally of Amityville and Massapequa, who was then 33 and had recently starred in "The Hunt for Red October," "Miami Blues" (both 1990) and "The Marrying Man" (1991), opposite future wife Kim Basinger. "Alec, who had never met Jackie, was in a state of hyper-disbelief," Simon writes. " 'Jackie Kennedy wants to go on a date with me?' he said. 'Are you kidding?' Alec's incredulity gradually gave way to 'What should I wear?' "
Though Onassis frequently walked around New York without being pestered and while Hart was not familiar to the general public, Simon said the four wore wigs, ostensibly to avoid being recognized. "Jim, brave-faced and laughing, was the first to put his on, a long, curly Eddie Van Halen wig that prompted a chorus of laughter. Alec chose a short, brown one; mine was comely, blond, and Grand Ole Opry-esque, and Jackie reached impulsively for the one befitting Madame de Pompadour," Simon writes.
She goes on to say, "As anticipated, Jackie doted on Alec, and Alec, despite his been-there, seen-everything show business poise, occasionally revealed the lightest possible slick of sweat on his brow," Simon writes. The next morning, "Jackie called to tell me what a magical evening it was, how divine Alec was, and how important she felt it was to think and act and cavort like a child now and again."
Baldwin's representative had no comment on the anecdote.
Hart in his 2017 memoir "Lucky Jim" had recalled wanting to do something special to celebrate Onassis' 62nd birthday. Without mentioning Burns or Armstrong, he writes Onassis asked Simon, "Isn't Jim a good friend of Alec Baldwin's? … Well, do you think Alec could be my date for the theatre on my birthday?" (Onassis turned 62 in July 1991, three months before the play opened.) When Hart asked Baldwin "there wasn't a moment's hesitation, even though he had just met Kim Basinger. 'I'm there. … Are you kidding? Jackie Kennedy wants to go on a date? Of course.' "