Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was the wife of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and served as First Lady during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born in New York, to Wall Street stock broker John Vernou Bouvier III and Janet Norton Lee. Her parents divorced in 1940 and her mother married Standard Oil heir Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr. in 1942. Her mother's family, the Lees, were mostly of Irish descent, and her father John was part French and English.
She spent her early years in East Hampton, New York at the Bouvier family estate. Following their parents' divorce, Jacqueline and her sister Lee divided their time between their mother's homes in Virginia and Rhode Island and their father's homes in New York City and Long Island. At a very early age she became an enthusiastic equestrienne, and horse-riding would remain a lifelong passion. As a child, she also enjoyed drawing, reading and lacrosse.
Bouvier pursued her secondary education at the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. When she made her society debut in 1947, Hearst columnist Igor Cassini dubbed her Debutante of the Year. She transferred to George Washington University graduating in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature.
Jacqueline and Senator John Kennedy belonged to the same social circle and often attended the same functions. In May 1952, at a dinner party organized by mutual friends, they were formally introduced for the first time. The two began dating soon afterward, and their engagement was officially announced on June 25, 1953. Bouvier married Kennedy on September 12, 1953 in Newport, Rhode Island. An estimated 700 guests attended the ceremony and 1,200 attended the reception that followed. The two settled in McLean, Virginia.
Jacqueline suffered a miscarriage in 1955 and gave birth to a stillborn baby girl in 1956. That same year they sold their estate to Robert and Ethel Kennedy and moved to a townhouse in Georgetown. Kennedy subsequently gave birth to a second daughter, Caroline, in 1957, and a son, John, in 1960.
On January 2, 1960, John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Presidency and launched his nationwide campaign. Though she had initially intended to take an active role in the campaign, Kennedy learned that she was pregnant shortly after the campaign commenced. Due to her previous difficult pregnancies, Kennedy's doctor instructed her to stay at home. From Georgetown, Kennedy participated in her husband's campaign by answering letters, taping television commercials, giving televised and printed interviews, and writing a weekly syndicated newspaper column, "Campaign Wife."
In the general election on November 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy narrowly beat Richard Nixon in the U.S. presidential election. A little over two weeks later, Mrs. Kennedy gave birth to the couple's first son, John Jr. When her husband was sworn in as president on January 20, 1961, Kennedy became, at age 31, one of the youngest First Ladies in history.
As First Lady, Kennedy devoted much of her time to planning social events at the White House and other state properties. She often invited artists, writers, scientists, poets, and musicians to mingle with politicians, diplomats, and statesmen. Perhaps due to her skill at entertaining, Kennedy proved quite popular among international dignitaries. When Soviet Premier Khrushchev was asked to shake President Kennedy's hand for a photo, Khrushchev said, "I'd like to shake her hand first.
The restoration of the White House was Jacqueline Kennedy's first major project. She was dismayed during her pre-inauguration tour of the White House to find little of historic significance in the house. The rooms were furnished with undistinguished pieces that she felt lacked a sense of history. She initiated a Congressional bill establishing that White House furnishings would be the property of the Smithsonian Institution, rather than available to departing ex-presidents to claim as their own and she wrote personal requests to those who owned pieces of historical interest that might be, and later were, donated to the White House. Mrs. Kennedy oversaw redesign and replanting of the White House Rose Garden and the East Garden, which was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden after her husband's assassination. Focus and admiration for Jacqueline Kennedy took negative attention away from her husband. By attracting worldwide public attention, the First Lady gained allies for the White House and international support for the Kennedy administration and its Cold War policies.
Early in 1963, Kennedy became pregnant again and curtailed her official duties. She spent most of the summer at the Kennedys' rented home on Squaw Island, where she went into premature labour on August 7, 1963. She gave birth to a boy, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, via emergency Caesarean section, five and a half weeks prematurely. His lungs were not fully developed, and he died of respiratory distress syndrome on August 9. The couple was devastated by the loss of their infant son, and that tragedy brought them closer together than ever before.
On November 21, 1963, the First Couple left the White House for a political trip to Texas, stopping in San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth that day. After a breakfast on November 22, the Kennedys flew to Dallas on Air Force One. A motorcade was to take them to the Trade Mart where the President was scheduled to speak at a lunch. Mrs. Kennedy was seated next to her husband in the limousine.
After the motorcade turned the corner onto Elm Street, Mrs. Kennedy heard what she thought to be a motorcycle backfiring, and did not realize that it was a gunshot. Within seconds, two more shots had rung out. The final shot struck the President in the head.
Following the assassination, Mrs. Kennedy stepped back from official public view. The steadiness and courage of Kennedy during her husband's assassination and funeral won her admiration around the world.
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. On October 20, 1968 she married Aristotle Onassis, a wealthy, Greek shipping magnate, who was able to provide her family with the privacy and security she needed for herself and her children. As a result of the marriage, the media gave her the nickname "Jackie O."
Onassis's health began deteriorating rapidly and he died in Paris, on March 15, 1975. Now that her children were older, she decided to find work that would be fulfilling to her. Since she had always enjoyed writing and literature, she threw herself into this field.
In 1993, Mrs. Onassis was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Although doctors were initially optimistic, by April the cancer had spread, and she made her last trip home from Hospital on May 18, 1994. Onassis died in her sleep at 10:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, two and a half months before her 65th birthday.
The first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship