Rita Jenrette, born Rita Carpenter, November 25, 1949 in San Antonio, Texas is an American celebrity, actor, television journalist, and real estate executive. She is most famous for the interview she gave about her marriage to U.S. Representative John Jenrette following his conviction in the Abscam scandal and her accompanying semi-nude pictorial in Playboy magazine.
Jenrette earned her bachelor's degree, cum laude, from the University of Texas in 1971.
In 1973, she became the director of research for the Republican Party of Texas. In 1974, Jenrette was a visiting lecturer at the Taft Political Institute at Trinity University. In 1975, she was Opposition Research Director of the Republican National Committee, under the chairmanship of Mary Louise Smith.
In 1977, Jenrette worked as a research associate at the Office of Technology Assessment under the co-chairmanship of Senators Hubert H. Humphrey and Edward M. Kennedy. She co-authored a report, with Ray Hoehle, on the Food for Peace program, which was presented to the Presidential Commission on World Food Hunger.
In 1978 Jenrette was picked by the Washington Post Sunday magazine as one of four dynamic young women of Washington, D.C. On September 10, 1976, she married freshman Democratic whip John Jenrette of South Carolina, 18 months after meeting him on Capitol Hill.
Her husband, John, was convicted for taking a bribe during the Abscam investigation in October 1980. She appeared on the Phil Donahue Show and he called in live to join the conversation. At his trial she testified in her husband's defense.
Subsequently, she alerted authorities to $25,000 she found in her husband's closet saying it was part of the Abscam money.
She gave an interview to Playboy that appeared in the April 1981 issue, accompanied by a nude pictorial. The article's revelation that she and her husband had sex on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during a break in an all-night House session caused a hoopla. She claimed that the couple were still "happily married" at the time the Playboy pictorial was photographed, although they had separated by the time it was published.
The comedy group "Capitol Steps" takes its name from this escapade.
Jenrette again appeared in Playboy in the May 1984 issue on the cover and in a pictorial.
Acting and writing career
She separated from her husband in January 1981 and they were divorced shortly thereafter. She has written two published books, one called My Capitol Secrets in 1981 that detailed her experiences as a Congressional spouse, and "Conglomerate", published in 1986.
Real estate career
In 1994, she began a career in real estate. In 1996, Crain's New York Business described Jenrette as a "Power Broker New York Style." In 1999, she sued Simon Properties for $6 million for failing to pay her a commission on the $800 million sale of the General Motors Building to Donald Trump; after losing her claim at trial, she settled her claim for what was reported as a substantially lower payment. In 2003, she completed an Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School.
On May 27, 2009, Jenrette married Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi of Piombino. To commemorate the marriage, Ludovisi commissioned the recreation of a fragrance originally devised for one of his princely ancestors. They live in his 16th century family home in Rome, called the Villa Aurora, or sometimes Casino Ludovisi. They have renovated it. She has opened it to the public and gives tours.
Jenrette appeared in the following films and television shows:
- The Edge of Night (1981)
- Fantasy Island (1982)
- Zombie Island Massacre (1984)
- The Malibu Bikini Shop (1986)
- End of the Line (1987)
- Dream On (1992)
She also acted on stage:
- The Philadelphia Story (1982) – won the L.A. Drama-Logue Critics Award
- A Girl's Guide to Chaos (1987)
- "Rita Jennrette debuts in issue of Playboy". Eugene Register-Guard. Eugene, OR. UPI. 21 February 1981. p. 4A.
- ""Destination Scandal" tour of DC". The Washington Post.
- Maxa, Rudy (January 1, 1978). "The Gorgeous Blondes". The Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- Albert, James A. (1989). Pay Dirt: Divorces of the Rich and Famous. Berkley Books. p. 191. ISBN 9780425128251.
- "Rita Jennrette denies posing in the nude". Eugene Register-Guard. Eugene, OR. UPI. 2 December 1980. p. 7A. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- "Nation: Refund, Please". Time. December 1, 1980. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Bandy, Lee (1988-03-27). "Eight Years After Abscam, Jenrette Plans A Political Comeback". Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
- Tillman, Nat (22 August 1984). "Even Miss America contestants are in the skin business". Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, FL. p. B1.
- Benarde, Scott (9 February 1986). "Rita Jennrette wants to be taken seriously". Sun Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She points to her 1982 Drama-Logue Critics Award for her performance in a Los Angeles production of The Philadelphia Story as giving her legitimacy as an actress.
- "Rita Jenrette". IMDB. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- Furman, Phyllis; Lentz, Philip; Willis, Gerri (April 1–7, 1996). "Power Broker, New York Style". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- Grant, Peter (1999-01-14). "Judge To Power Agent: You Lose". New York Daily News. New York. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
- Grant, Peter (6 May 1999). "Macklowe's Midtown Tower May Not Rise". New York Daily News. New York.
- Kamen, Al (July 21, 2010). "Rita and John Jenrette, Where are they now". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- Rose, Sandra (2009-07-20). "Ancient perfumes revived to celebrate royal engagement". Basenotes. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
- "Villa Aurora". Retrieved 22 August 2016.
- Levy, Ariel (28 November 2011). "THE RENOVATION". The New Yorker. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
- Hervieux, Linda (15 July 2010). "U.S.-Born Princess Opens Historic Villa to the Public". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
- "Villa Aurora". 100 Weeks in Rome. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
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