June 16, 1994 12:00 PM

“She had a wonderful, wry way of looking at the world and a sense of human folly,” says summer-time pal Barbara Lazear Ascher of Jackie (on a 1962 holiday in Ravello, Italy). “She had a true twinkle in her eye. It was one of her great gifts.”

“Jackie was more private, more secret; Lee is more lively,” says a longtime friend of the sisters (below, with Lee’s husband, Prince Stanislas Radziwill, at Christmas dinner at the Radziwills’ London home in 1969). “There was always a rivalry between them, but they called each other every few weeks.” At right, the sisters relax in Ravello.

“She was always stunning, and she had more men per square inch than any woman I’ve ever known,” says Jackie’s former aide Letitia Baldrige of the First Lady (during a voyage to Jaipur, India, in 1962).

“She is one of the few women I ever met who could be equally comfortable with Jimmy Breslin and André Malraux,” said columnist Pete Hamill, a Jackie escort in the ’70s. But she was most at ease with children, including Lee’s son Anthony (with Jackie and Caroline in Ravello in 1962).

In Ravello, Jackie swam with Caroline and taught her to water-ski. Later she would tell decorator Billy Baldwin, whom she hardly knew, “The world is pouring terrible adoration at the feet of my children. How can I bring them up normally?”

“She said that life is too precious,” recalled Doubleday’s deputy publisher Bill Barry, who asked Jackie to write her memoirs. “[She said], ‘I want to savor it. I’d rather spend my time feeling a galloping horse or the mist of the ocean.’ ” Among the many moments she wouldn’t miss was a poetry reading with Lee and Lee’s kids, Christina and Anthony, in London on New Year’s Eve, 1969. Not wanting to be seen with wet hair, Jackie wrapped her head (stylishly) in a towel.

Cecil Beaton was one of the few who wasn’t won over. “She is very much an over-life-size caricature of herself,” sniped the curmudgeonly photographer (with Jackie at a reception thrown by Lee in her London home in 1961). “Huge baseball player’s shoulders and haunches, big boyish hands and feet.”

“He was rough and simple, but magnetic,” recalls a friend of Aristotle Onassis’ (here opening gifts with Jackie in London on Christmas Eve, 1969).

“She was nurturing by personality,” said Doubleday’s Bill Barry of Jackie (with nephew Tony and niece Christina on Christmas morning, 1969).

“Jackie had great charm and looked like no one else,” says photographer Graziani (left, clowning with Jackie and Oleg Cassini).

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