The interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy, recorded months after the 1963 assassination of her husband and aired for the first time by ABC News, include her candid assessments of world leaders and her time in the White House.
“De Gaulle was my hero when I married Jack,” she tells the historian Arthur Schlesinger, referring to her husband by his nickname, in a tape aired by ABC News on Tuesday.
But when she met the French leader in person during a May 1961 visit, shortly after Kennedy assumed office, she found de Gaulle to be “so full of spite” and disliked the French in general.
“I loathe the French… They are not very nice, they are all for themselves,” she said.
Her criticism came despite the fact that she had studied at the Sorbonne at the age of 20 and could speak French well.
De Gaulle was not the only world leader that provoked Jacqueline Kennedy’s ire. She describes Indira Gandhi, the future Indian prime minister, as a “bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.”
And at one point she reveals that she had told her husband that US civil rights icon Martin Luther King was a “phony.”
The taped interviews of Jacqueline Kennedy — who died in 1994 without writing any memoirs — are being published by her daughter Caroline Kennedy to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of her father’s presidential term.
The transcripts are being released in a book this month entitled “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.” ABC News is airing the tapes this week.