- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Friend recalls JFK Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr. may have dated Daryl Hannah — and married troubled Carolyn Bessette — but Madonna talked dirty to him on the phone, the New York Daily News reported in yesterday’s editions.

That’s one of the spicier revelations in William Sylvester Noonan’s “Forever Young: My Friendship With John F. Kennedy Jr.,” the latest in a string of books about the doomed heir of Camelot.

“A familiar voice was on his answering machine, calling him ‘Kennedy’ and moaning about being drunk and in Rome and describing exactly what she wanted to do with” him, Mr. Noonan writes.

Mr. Kennedy practically fell down laughing when Mr. Noonan couldn’t place the voice. “Finally, he looked at me, calmly, like it was nothing,” he writes. “Madonna.”

Mr. Noonan, one of JFK Jr.’s oldest friends, appeared on NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday to promote his book, in which he writes that Mr. Kennedy “had a thing for hardheaded — and beautiful — women.”

None was harder to handle than Miss Bessette, according to Mr. Noonan’s account. She used drugs, saw a psychiatrist five days a week — and felt overshadowed by the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the book says.

At the wedding rehearsal dinner in 1996, Miss Bessette fretted about whether her dress would have been too revealing for Mrs. Onassis, who had been dead two years by then.

Mr. Noonan also wrote that Miss Bessette couldn’t bear the public eye.

“They’re staring at me,” she whispered to Mr. Noonan as she looked around a restaurant where they had gone for lunch.

Mr. Noonan said he told Miss Bessette, “They did the same thing to Jackie.”

“Yeah, well, I need her now, but she’s not here,” Miss Bessette reportedly replied.

Explorer mourns Irwin

Jean-Michel Cousteau says that while he mourns the death of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, he disagrees with Mr. Irwin’s hands-on approach to nature television.

While promoting his new two-part PBS TV special, “Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures — America’s Underwater Treasures,” the undersea explorer called Mr. Irwin’s death “very, very unfortunate.”

Although he didn’t know the zany TV entertainer and conservationist personally, Mr. Cousteau — son of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau — told Associated Press he had “a lot of respect” for Mr. Irwin and his “environmental message.” Nevertheless, he added, Mr. Irwin would “interfere with nature, jump on animals, grab them, hold them, and have this very, very spectacular, dramatic way of presenting things.”

“Of course, it goes very well on television,” Mr. Cousteau said. “It sells, it appeals to a lot people, but I think it’s very misleading. You don’t touch nature, you just look at it. And that’s why I’m still alive. I’ve been diving over 61 years … and I don’t mess with nature.”

Mr. Irwin, 44, died Sept. 4 when a stingray’s barb pierced his chest while he was filming an underwater sequence in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A public memorial service was held yesterday at the Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Australia.

Whitney bouncing back

If all goes as recording industry mogul Clive Davis plans, Whitney Houston will release an album with new material by early next year, the New York Post reports.

“We are reviewing material right now,” Mr. Davis told the newspaper. Though Miss Houston is not ready to sing solo at the Carousel Ball of Hope in October — she “would accompany me,” Mr. Davis said — she could make her big comeback at his famed Grammy party next year. “It is too early to say if Whitney is going to perform, but I would hope she would be in the running,” Mr. Davis added. “She looks radiant and is clearly together.”

As for rumors that Miss Houston has lost some of her vocal range, Mr. Davis said, “She is talking enthusiastically and is articulate. We are going to make a great album. In my opinion, the best singers in the world are Aretha [Franklin] and Whitney. That’s not to knock Mariah [Carey]. Mariah is a friend of mine, but I think Mariah would even say those two are the best.”

Mr. Davis — who is credited by Us Weekly with getting Miss Houston to rehab and hiring addiction counselors for the Grammy-winning singer — refused to comment on her split with husband Bobby Brown but said that friends and family were relieved to see Miss Houston in fine form at the recent Society of Singers tribute to Johnny Mathis.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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