Radziwill was born Caroline Lee Bouvier on March 3, 1933 in Southampton, NY, to stockbroker John Vernou Bouvier III and socialite Janet Norton Lee. She was the younger sister of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. WWD described Radziwill as “the pretty one” growing up while Onassis was considered “the smart one.” Nonetheless, the sisters were extremely close and in her memoir Happy Times, Radziwill talked about their strong bond even after Onassis married John F. Kennedy.
“With the wedding, Jackie’s destiny led to another life. As the wife of the president of the United States, she was extremely busy. She had to travel a lot, and liked to have me with her as we were very close. Apart from great mutual affection, I think our strongest bond was a shared sense of humor, which was endlessly enjoyable,” Radziwill wrote.
Radziwill carved out a name for herself separate from her sister and had many famous friends, including Truman Capote. A famed writer himself, Capote reportedly encouraged Radziwill to pursue an acting career, though it ultimately didn’t pan out. Instead, Radzill became known for spectacular fashion sense.
She was entered in the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame in 1996, according to Vanity Fair. Later in life Radziwill worked as an interior designer and also as a brand ambassador and public relations executive for Giorgio Armani.
She was married three times. Her first was to publishing executive Michael Temple Canfield in 1953. They divorced six years later, the same year she married her second husband, Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill, who gave her the title of princess. The Polish aristocrat was nearly 20 years her senior and they had two children, Prince Anthony Radziwill (who died in 1999) and Princess Anna Christina Radziwill. They divorced in 1974. Her last marriage occurred in 1988, to Herbert Ross, an American filmmaker who directed Footloose and Steel Magnolias. They divorced shortly before Ross’ death in 2001.
The exact cause of Radziwill’s death is still unknown. Sources close to her told WWD that “she was in good shape” over the past week, though she did suffer from an age-related disease in the past.
Radziwill is survived by her daughter. She was also the mother-in-law of journalist and former Real Housewives of New York City star Carole Radziwill.