“The DiFalcos were cheap wine, cigarettes, loud laughter. My mother’s family, on the other hand, was quiet and resolute.” This is how Carole DiFalco Radziwill described her family background in her memoir, “What Remains”. Much has been made about the fact that Carole is connected to the Kennedy family. She, herself, downplays that connection, letting us know that it was a very marginal one at best, one which the Kennedys and the Radziwills allowed her, begrudgingly, to assume. In that book, she also describes, with love and humor, her own family, which was a bit on the wild side, where rules were often broken, and charm, good manners and a graceful lifestyle were not even a consideration.
She wrote about people like Grandma Millie, a 300 pound woman with a penchant and talent for shoplifting. Millie was known for her ability to walk out of Waldbaum’s with 5 pound roasts and a box of Devil Dogs stashed under the folds of her ample bosom. When she wasn’t pilfering groceries, she was either sneaking cigarettes to the children who hung out at her house, or tending to her crop of marijuana, which had to be relocated when the cops became suspicious.
Carole also wrote, at great length, about her parents – two very different people. Her dad’s side of the family was everything we’ve ever experienced or come to know about what it means to grow up in an Italian culture. They opened and then closed a family restaurant, “DiFalcos”, in Yonkers, near the raceway. He and his family worked at different jobs, to provide for their children and maintain their home. Carole’s humor and passion may have come from her dad, but she gives her mother, who she describes as being the smart one, all of the credit for giving her the gift of intellectual curiosity. No matter how you look at it, there was nothing in Carole’s background that could have prepared her for what her future would bring – no GPS setting which would have directed her to the homes and into the vastly different lives of the two families of which she would become a part.
After her dates with her future husband, Tony, turned into something much deeper, she was introduced to his mother, Lee, at a luncheon held by the Radziwills at their house in the Hamptons. Although the luncheons became a regular occurrence, the behaviors and menus at the meals never reached a level of comfort for Carole. Lee served endive salads, sorbets and Evian with lemon wedges. Her soon to be daughter in law was more accustomed to her own family’s dining style – grabbing food wherever and whenever one wanted it, often standing in front of an open refrigerator door while eating. What meals were served with the entire DiFalco family in attendance often resembled an “every man for himself” free for all, as they slid soda cans across the table and dove into bowls of pasta, generously sprinkled with Kraft parmesan cheese. In light of this and all of the lunches with Lee, Carole began to realize that she had been ” thrust into class divide”.
There was one member of the Kennedy family with whom Carole did develop a fast friendship and bond. Carolyn Bessette, John Kennedy Jr.’s wife, had also been on the receiving end of the family’s less than warm reception. Carole witnessed their obvious dismissal of any notion that there would ever be a wedding for Carolyn and John while at a New Year’s Eve dinner hosted by Edwin and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg at their home. She wrote of the conversation this way, “At my turn I say, “I think John and Carolyn will get married.” And suddenly the room is quiet. “No, he won’t,” says Ed. “Caroline doesn’t even know her.” That discussion began and ended in a matter of seconds, and the others simply moved on.
The two women continued their friendship until only Carole was left. A plane crash took Carolyn and John. Cancer took Tony four weeks later. Carole went on, as a widow, without her trio of best friends. After enough time had passed where she felt comfortable in doing so, she wrote her memoir. She told all of us about the disease that had defined her entire married life, and she opened closet doors, spilling not only her own family’s skeletons but some of those of the family she had joined in marriage, all over the pages of that book.
Now Carole is a member of The Real Housewives of New York City. In a recent interview with Jacob Bernstein of The Daily Beast, Radziwill talked about how she was approached by Andy Cohen with the idea of her joining the cast. The fact that she was even considering it shocked a few of her friends. One of those friends, film director Joel Scumacher enumerated the reasons why it wasn’t such a good idea. Carole made the decision to accept Cohen’s offer for her very own good reasons. Bravo would serve as a way to promote her books and make her some money. She explained to Bernstein that “George Plimpton once said that he would sit in a department store window if he thought it would sell a book. And I thought this is better than sitting in a window.” She also was very clear, when she signed her contract with Bravo, that the whole Princess Radziwill/Kennedy thing was not how she wanted to be viewed and that they could not promote her role that way. She told Bernstien, “I’m a DiFalco at the end of the day.”
During the season premiere, she spoke very little to the others. When she found it uncomfortable to talk about children, she excused herself with a gentle reminder that while parents may find their children to be the center of their universe, they are not the center of THE universe. I don’t often read the Bravo blogs by the Housewives because they have become a whole lot of he said, she said, defending the indefensible, and lecturing viewers ad nauseum in the process. Carole’s was worth reading, however. She blogged about her perspectives on each of her castmates, not in the usual Housweife way, but with a wit and in a style that hasn’t ever been equaled by any of the other Bravolebrities.
Some may compare her to Bethenny Frankel, but I think Carole has her beat by a mile. Bethenny’s bite was often as bad as her bark. She was emotionally invested in her relationships with the other women, particularly with Jill Zarin. Radziwill brings none of that baggage, but she does bring something none of the others have. She knows and likes Andy Cohen. I’ll try not to hold that against her, but it is a relationship that existed before she signed her contract with Bravo – something to which none of the others, in any city, could lay claim. She also has the instinct and intelligence to know that one learns nothing while their lips are moving. While the others scream and gossip and argue, Carole has listened and observed, and then shared her observations with us – each one hysterically true.
If I were the other ladies, I’d be on my best behavior around Carole. She’s studying all of them, paying close attention to their words and adding very little to the conversation, all the while looking slightly bemused. I think she just might be taking notes, biding her time, waiting for the right moment and a signal from Bravo that she can resume writing, now that her recent novel is completed and waiting to be published. She knows Andy, she knows publishers and she’s already written about her life amid two rich and powerful families without even flinching. Aviva might want to let her order a Diet Coke if she wants one. LuAnn should reconsider entering into any more conspiracies against Ramona. Maybe Heather and Ramona should knock off the business rivalry stuff. You never know who’s observing and listening to all of this foolishness – storing all of it away for some later date. I, for one, look forward to this Season of New York’s Housewives just because of the quiet one. I just like watching her watching them.
LOL…maybe she is dandy andys spy …she just may be the determining factor as to whether this particular series comes back next season…we shall see…. winks
so far this season SUCKS..dont care whether I watch it or not..same with JOISEY… I am glued to Longmire at 10p.m. A & E… So far so good..I like this show…. WHOOP WHOOP
I’ve always said, the most dangerous dog is the one that just looks at you. Just sayin 😉
Carole, the watchful observer of the Big People. There is something so Brideshead Revisited about her. The outlier who chronicles the group dynamic and knows everyones secrets.
I like Carole’s outward lack of ego. She doesn’t push herself on people. In her book, she did not seem to be in awe of her famous inlaws. She wasn’t embarrassed by her own some what trashy family. She noted that when she and Carolyn Bessette (Mrs JFK Jr) were in Washington DC during one of Tony’s endless cancer treatments, they ate Spaghetti’Os straight from the can which they purchased from a local convenience store. I wished I had seen that.
Carole’s quiet confidence and spare humor are hysterical. Loved her “driveby shooting” comment about Lulu.
Speaking of Lulu … I love a comment I read elsewhere. Concerning her “storyline” (again!) this season .. Lu’s ceaseless demands for an apology from Ramona boils down to “Say you’re sorry or you’ll be sorry!”. Tee Hee.
I find it creepy (there I go using that word again) that she constantly stalks Ramona demanding an apology, who died and made her the Queen
“she constantly stalks Ramona demanding an apology, who died and made her the Queen”
Maybe it’s a decree or rule or something Lulu made up in her “Countesses for Dummies” book. 😀
Book ‘O Da Countess: Page 8 … right after her right to inflict child abuse by way of serenading innocent minors while they are held hostage in a Central Park gondola.
LOL you 2 quack me up
Who died and made her queen ??
The same person who died and made Alex God !!!! LOL LOL
BTW…. Clowntess Lugnutz DID NOT WRITE THE MANNERS BOOK….. Her sister did and CL took credit for it….as we all know CL does not have MANNERS only MANNERISMS…. she really is a twunt …..
CL does not have MANNERS only MANNERISMS…. 🙂 ROFLMAO!
Last year, Page Six reported that Jacques bought LuAnn Countess Squash Blossom High Horse that ring. Why have we yet to see it?
I noticed she is going for golden turquoise hubcap necklaces this year and wearing them longer rather than shortening them with duct tape.
In her blog, she indicated that Victoria’s “exhibition” went well and items were sold. I wonder if the Countess will now expense her garage for tax purposes……
From first impressions of the new ladies, I think I will like Carole the best. I really appreciate someone who will eat Spaghetti-O’s right from the can. I’ve done that myself in the aftermath of more than one hurricane.
FLG… I was just going to send you an email and tell you ..WE NEED YOU TO COMMENT ON LUGMANS JOORY !!!!!! you must have gotten my espn message,,,, WHOOP WHOOP
Hope you are feeling well… SO NICE TO SEE YOU HERE…!!!!!!!!
How bout the deluge of rain lately !!!!!! ribbit ribbit…
It’s been quite the deluge, hasn’t it, Diva? I’m growing gills.
FLG 🙂 – I can’t tell you how good it is to hear from you. We’ve missed you and we’ve missed your perspective on the “ladies”. Carole is a breath of fresh air, isn’t she?! I’m sticking to my theory that she’s a spy. We’ll enjoy your comments about the Countess – and any of the others – whenever you are so inclined to offer them. My best to you and yours.
Thank you Empress. I’m so happy you have your blog! I wish you all the best! 🙂
I think your theory is an astute one. Carole’s experience and her joining the show could be just what she needs to not only promote her new novel, but supply more than ample inspiration for a second one. With her background in news, documentaries, a biography and now a novel, I think a book in a “docu-drama” style just might well be next. She is impeccably well educated, experienced and traveled so your advice for her cast mates to “play nice” with the quiet girl should be heeded.. She is well equipped to swim with sharks while the others only snorkel.
I find Carole very interesting as well. I read her book a few years ago. She was very close to John and Carolyn Kennedy. I think I may re read it. Anyway, I liked her alot. She has a quiet dignity. Let’s hope it lasts.
Empress, you are a talented writer as well. I always enjoy reading your blog and look forward to the next posting. Carole’s husband must have been a very interesting person to have ignored the rules of his family’s society and married Carole. I admire her being true to who she is. It surprises me that Andy has a close friend who is so real. He seems so focused on trite shallow people.
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