Tyler Mallory / Newsmakers / Liaison Agency
Carolyn Bessette didn't say yes when John F. Kennedy Jr. first proposed to her.
She didn't say no, either, but remarkably the 29-year-old Calvin Klein publicist, who had been dating JFK Jr. for about a year, wasn't yet sure that she was ready for what marrying him would entail—a merging of lives that would come with a host of perks but also require a daunting amount of self-sacrifice, not even including the matter-of-fact assault on her privacy.
Carolyn had spent enough time at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port to know that there was no exaggerating the legend behind the larger-than-life name, a family technically made up of flesh and blood just like any other but which had embedded itself in the very fabric of American culture over the greater part of the 20th century.
And she wasn't bowled over by the Kennedy bond. Rather, the clannishness turned her off.