Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline Onasis image

 

Born in Southampton, New York the daughter of John Vernou Bouvier III and Janet Norton Lee. Jacqueline had a younger sister, Caroline Lee and from her mother’s second marriage a half sister Janet and half brother James Auchincloss.

She came from a half Irish family on her mother’s side and French-English family on her father’s side. Her grandfather was born in France John Vernou Bouvier Jr. and was a Philadelphia-based cabinetmaker, carpenter, merchant and real estate speculator who fashioned a more noble ancestry for his family in his vanity family history book Our Forebears.

Having spent most of her childhood in New York, she attended Chapin School. At a very young age she became passionate about equestrienne and horse-riding.  She later attended her secondary education in Maryland and then Connecticut where she made her society debut in 1947.  Hearst columnist Igor Cassini dubbed her Debutante of the Year.

She attended College in New York and then France – later returning to the US and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature.  Spending summer in Europe in the company of her sister, this became the topic of her only autobiographical book, One Special Summer.

She was engaged to a young stock broker named John Husted for three months during which she was hired as the Inquiring Photographer for The Washington Times-Herald.

Jacqueline and then Senator John Kennedy often attended the same events. In May, 1952 they met formally for the first time at a friend’s party. The two then started dating short thereafter and they were engaged officially  on June 25, 1953.

On September 12, 1953 at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island in a Mass celebrated by Boston’s Archbishop Richard Cushing they were married.  An estimated 700 guests attended the ceremony and 1,200 attended the reception that followed at Hammersmith Farm.

Jacqueline and John had four children.  Daughter Arabella Kennedy, Stillborn in 1956.  Caroline Bouvier Kennedy 1957 married to Edwin Schlossberg.  They have two daughters and a son. Caroline  is the last surviving child. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr . Magazine publisher and lawyer. Married to Carolyn Bessette. Both John and his wife died in a plane crash piloted by John as well as Lauren Bessette, Carolyn’s sister on July 16, 1999.  Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died in 1963 from Hyaline Membrane Disease, today more commonly called Infant respiratory distress syndrome at the age of two days.

In November 8, 1960 John F. Kennedy defeated Republican Richard Nixon in the U.S. presidential election.  Shortly after Jacqueline Kennedy gave birth to the couple’s first son, John, Jr.  When her husband was sworn in as president on January 20, 1961 Jacqueline became at age 31 one of the youngest First Ladies in history.

Jacqueline is remembered for reorganizing entertainment for White House Social events, restoring many of the White House’s interiors and was even more known for her impeccable taste in fashion.  She is still one of the most popular First Ladies in the United States.

On November 21, 1963 the First Couple left the White House for a political trip to Texas where the President was shot in the head.  Her steadiness and courage after her husband’s assassination and funeral won her admiration around the world.

“Now, I think that I should have known that he was magic all along. I did know it – but I should have guessed that it would be too much to ask to grow old with and see our children grow up together. So now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man. ”     By Jackie Kennedy

In November, 1967 during the midst of the Vietnam War, Life Magazine recognized Jacqueline as “America’s unofficial roving ambassador” during her visit to Cambodia.

In June 1968 when her brother-in-law Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated she came to fear for her life and that of her children, saying “If they’re killing Kennedys, then my children are targets…” On October 20, 1968 she married Aristotle Onassis, a wealthy Greek shipping magnate who was able to provide the privacy and security she needed for herself and her children.

After her marriage to Onassis, the media gave her the nickname “Jackie O.” which has remained a popular shorthand reference to her. She became the target of paparazzi who were following her everywhere. Aristotle’s health began deteriorating rapidly and he died in Paris on March 15, 1975 making Jacqueline, then nearly 46, a widow for the second time.

In 1993 Jacqueline was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer. Her diagnosis was announced to the public in February. The family and doctors were initially optimistic, and she stopped smoking at the insistence of her daughter.  By April, the cancer had spread and she made her last trip home from New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center on May 18, 1994.

This is a woman known not only as an icon to fashion, but also as a real woman that carried her life gracefully despite the misfortunes and tragedies that was thrown at her. She was definitely one of the most remarkable woman who has ever lived in my opinion.

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