"Jackie Kennedy wants to go on a date with me? ... Are you kidding?" Alec Baldwin said at the time, according to the new book
In her new memoir Touched by the Sun: My Friendship With Jackie, singer Carly Simon shares her fondest memories with Onassis — including a particularly theatrical evening where the two were joined by Baldwin and Simon’s then-husband, Jim Hart.
According to the book, Baldwin ended up as a last-minute plus-one for Onassis when her partner, Maurice Tempelsman, was out of town — and when filmmaker Ken Burns and media exec Joe Armstrong passed up on the opportunity.
Regardless of being third in line, Baldwin eagerly joined the friend group as they attended the play Dancing at Lughnasa on Broadway.
“Alec, who had never met Jackie, was in a state of hyper-disbelief,” writes Simon, 74. ” ‘Jackie Kennedy wants to go on a date with me?’ he said. ‘Are you kidding?’ Alec’s incredulity gradually gave way to ‘What should I wear?’ ”
To keep their identities a secret during the night, the four wore wigs Simon had on hand.
“Jim, brave-faced and laughing, was the first to put his on, a long, curly Eddie Van Halen wig that prompted a chorus of laughter. Alec chose a short, brown one; mine was comely, blond, and Grand Ole Opry–esque, and Jackie reached impulsively for the one befitting Madame de Pompadour,” Simon writes.
In recapping the memory, Simon says Onassis seemed “at peace” that night.
“As anticipated, Jackie doted on Alec, and Alec, despite his been-there, seen-everything show business poise, occasionally revealed the lightest possible slick of sweat on his brow,” Simon writes.
Later in the passage, Simon writes: “First thing next morning, Jackie called to tell me what a magical evening it was, how divine Alec was, and how important she felt it was to think and act and cavort like a child now and again.”
The same story is included in Hart’s 2017 memoir, Lucky Jim, where he writes that Baldwin, who had just met his future first wife Kim Basinger, wholeheartedly agreed to the date without hesitation, saying, “I’m there.”
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Simon opened up about many facets of her unlikely friendship with Jackie, and how the “You’re So Vain” singer was at Jackie’s bedside as she lay dying at home in 1994.
“I was holding her hand, telling her I loved her and saying goodbye,” Simon, her voice quavering, told PEOPLE. “There was an otherworldly recording of monks singing, intermingled with sounds of uproarious laughter from the next room, where various Kennedys were having an Irish gathering. It was surreal.”