Lee Radziwill, 1933-2019. Courtesy of Getty Images

Bob Colacello Remembers the Icon Lee Radziwill

"I always thought Lee was the original and Jackie the copy..."

by Bob Colacello
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Feb 16 2019, 10:41pm

Lee Radziwill, 1933-2019. Courtesy of Getty Images

I always thought Lee was the original and Jackie the copy, but who really knows about such things? Probably not even the sisters themselves. For me, Lee was the more beautiful, more refined, more ethereal, indeed one of the greatest beauties of her generation.

I met Lee when I met everyone, shortly after I started working with Andy Warhol in 1971, as editor of Interview. I remember going with Andy and Fred Hughes to interview Lee at her all-red apartment on Fifth Avenue, which Diana Vreeland pronounced the most fabulous apartment in all New York—"Such style! Such drama! Such luxe!" The first thing one saw upon entering the front hall was a very large and rather violent Francis Bacon triptych of what appeared to be one man devouring another, three times over. Bacon, Lee explained, had become a "great pal" in London, where she had been living with her second husband, Prince Stash Radziwill. Their marriage, however, was about to end, because Lee had fallen in love with Peter Beard.

Lee loved men, and men loved Lee. Women, not so much (unless they were younger, and played the protégé).

She was a true connoisseur of all of the arts—literature, film, theater, dance, painting, photography, architecture, fashion and design—and a real friend to those who created them. She was also loyal: she was one of the few society friends to stick by Truman Capote after the scandal set off by the publication of a chapter of his unfinished novel, Answered Prayers, in Esquire. Nureyev, Onassis, Warhol, Armani, Mark Shand, Reinaldo Herrera, William Ivy Long, Hamilton South—they all adored her. Yes, she could be affected, but her affectation was her armor; her chic, her attraction. But most alluring of all was her intelligence. She will be missed.

Lee Radziwill and Bob Colacello
Lee Radziwill and Bob Colacello at the fifth anniversary of Vanity Fair, at the Diamond Horseshoe in Manhattan.