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During Sex and the City’s iconic, six-season run, a lot happened in New York City and the world. In fact, several moments in the series were changed to accommodate tragic events and breaking news. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, for example, the team edited out depictions of the World Trade Center towers. Two years before that, John F. Kennedy Jr.’s name was scrubbed out of an episode to show respect to his family after his untimely death.   

A season 2 episode of Sex and the City mentioned John F. Kennedy Jr. in its original airing

Sex and the City’s second season premiered on June 6, 1999. Five episodes into the season, the show decided to tackle a dark theme. As the fifth episode of season 2 opens, fans learn that Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, and Charlotte York were all gathered to attend a 34-year-old fashion designer’s funeral. Later, Samantha is shunned by high society after she’s caught hooking up with a socialite’s husband. She is only welcomed back into the fold when she meets a celebrity while volunteering for a charity.

John F. Kennedy Jr. appears at a press conferences for 'George' in 1995
John F Kennendy Jr. | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Initially, Samantha met John F. Kennedy Jr., and he helped restore her social standing. Kennedy was only mentioned by name. He never appeared in the show. In later airings of the episode, Kennedy’s name was changed. 

John F. Kennedy Jr.’s name was replaced in subsequent airings for a sad reason

“Four Women and Funeral” aired on HBO on July 4, 1999. Just 12 days after the original airing of the episode, JFK Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, died in a tragic plane crash. On the evening of July 16, 1999, Kennedy, Bessette-Kennedy, and Bessette took off from Essex County Airport. The Piper Saratoga aircraft, piloted by Kennedy, was headed for Martha’s Vineyard. According to The New York Times, the Kennedy family reported the plane and its occupants missing shortly after 2 am. The wreckage of the aircraft and all three occupants, was recovered in the Atlantic Ocean five days later.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy leaving the White House Correspondents' Dinner in May 1999
John F Kennedy, Jr, and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy | Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images

After the tragic accident, the Sex and the City’s production team decided to swap Kennedy’s name with the name of a different celebrity, given the nature of the episode. Kennedy’s name in all future airings of the episode was swapped in favor of Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio’s name is also used in the DVD version of the episode and all streaming content.    

Fans may notice a little plot hole due to the name swap

It was easy enough to change the name that is uttered during the episode. Unlike other episodes where words needed to be changed, the editing team didn’t have to contend with the actors’ facial movements. Since Kennedy’s name is said during a voiceover when the narrator isn’t seen, the swap would have been seamless if only an actor hadn’t been used to represent Kennedy’s famous look. Fans might be quick to notice that the extra used as the celebrity’s stand-in looks nothing like DiCaprio.

Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall
Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall in ‘Sex and the City’ | HBO/Newsmakers

At the end of the episode, when Samantha is rescued from certain social death by her fast friendship with DiCaprio, an extra is blurred out to symbolize the famed actor. A non-blurred scene, however, shows a dark-haired man. DiCaprio, as most know, is a blonde. A dark-haired extra was supposed to represent JFK Jr.