Forgotten footage of Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her sister Lee Radziwill on Andy Warhol’s Montauk estate during the summer of 1972 was found after the death of the avant-garde poet and filmmaker Jonas Mekas.
The footage, which was discovered in the Brooklyn home of Mekas when he died last month at the age of 96, shows the sister and their children in their most candid and personal moments, the Daily Mail reported in 2019.
During the summer of ’72, Radziwll rented a cottage on artist Andy Warhol’s five-home beachside estate called Eothen for the two women and their four children. At the time, Radziwell was dating photographer Peter Beard, who owned a home next to Warhol’s compound.
Jackie hired Jonas Mekas, considered the “Godfather” of avant-garde cinema, to teach her children filmmaking and photography. The result was a 35-minute home film shot with a Super 8 camera titled, "This Side of Paradise".
The footage reveals a 12-year-old John F Kennedy Jr playing air guitar to The Rolling Stones, Tina Radziwll blowing out candles on her birthday with Andy Warhol standing at the table, and a family outing to Chinatown in NYC.
American film director Elia Kazan, a guest at the estate, can be seen in one shot having a glass of wine and a conversation with Peter Beard. Other scenes show the family swimming, boating, and enjoying their summer.
Mekas remembered the summer as “one of happiness and continuous celebration of life and friendships.”
When Mekas, a Lithuanian-born refugee who immigrated to the US after being imprisoned in a Nazi labor camp during WWII, borrowed money to purchase his first Bolex16mm camera within two weeks of his arrival to America. He soon made a mark on the experimental art scene with his unique approach to storytelling. He died on January 23, 2019.
* Originally published in 2019. Updated in 2023.