December 24, 1979 12:00 PM

A hometown newspaper headlined a story about her “Megan Marshack is more than a Girl Friday” in early January. It was grimly prophetic. Three weeks later she was plunged into notoriety as Nelson Rockefeller’s companion on the night of his fatal heart attack. Today, nearly a year later, she has not answered a single public question about the former Vice-President’s death, and continues to live in partial seclusion.

Marshack, now 26, fled briefly to her parents’ home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., then went to live with her younger brother at the University of California at Davis. Staked out by reporters everywhere—”It became unbearable for her,” says a friend—she returned to New York in search of a job. Finally, last month she was hired as a publicity aide, albeit a very private one, in the offices of Broadway producer Alexander Cohen. “Of the 18 applicants, she was the best qualified,” says Cohen, who is paying her an estimated $25,000 a year for writing and research—a substantial comedown from the reported $60,000 she earned with Rockefeller.

Popular with her new co-workers, Marshack has a reputation for candor. “You never said ‘no’ to Nelson Rockefeller, but Megan did,” says a friend. “She talked to him like a regular person. That was the secret of her success with him.” Totally devoted to Rocky, she worked long hours and was amply rewarded. “Megan had power,” says a former colleague. “She was born to be a general, never a private.” Now she lives quietly in the co-op apartment Rocky loaned her the money to buy, and has trimmed off 10 pounds with the help of an occasional 8:30 a.m. exercise class. “Megan loved beautiful clothes,” the colleague adds. “She thought she deserved them.” As for her social life, “I have none,” she once admitted. “I’ve tried to go places alone. But it’s really no fun when you’re by yourself.”

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