Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy became one of the most beloved First Ladies in history during her time in the White House. The Southampton, New York native was married to the then-youngest president to ever take office, John F. Kennedy, and their lives together seemed like a true love story to all those watching from the outside.
Everything changed on that fateful day in November of 1963, when John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas, Texas. Jacqueline, or “Jackie,” as she was better known, had to adapt to a whole new life, and would go on to remarry years later.
Though she was an immensely popular figure, much of Jackie Kennedy’s life inside the White House was unknown; though the public adored her, there were questions about how she was to be around on any regular day.
In an interview with the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, her former bodyguard, Clint Hill, revealed new information about Jacqueline – and what she was like to work for in private.
First, though, let us take a closer look at Jackie Kennedy’s life.
She was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, New York, to parents John Vernon Bouvier III and Janet Lee.
Her father worked as a stockbroker, and the Bouvier family was wealthy. Jackie developed interests in riding, writing, and painting at a very young age. Pretty much by the time she could walk, she was sitting on the back of a horse.
Since her family had no problems with money, Jackie Kennedy got her education at some of the best private schools around. She lived her childhood in New York City, Hampton, Newport, and Rhode Island, where her time was spent writing poems and other stories, drawing her own illustrations for them. She also studied ballet.
Jackie started first grade at Miss Chapin’s School on East End Avenue in New York. According to the JFK Library, one of her teachers, named Miss Platt, thought Jackie was “a darling child, the prettiest little girl, very clever, very artistic, and full of the devil.”
Coincidentally, Jackie found herself in plenty of mischief. One of her report cards, written by headmistress Miss Ethel Stringfellow, stated: “Jacqueline was given a D in Form because her disturbing conduct in her geography class made it necessary to exclude her from the room.”
When Jackie was ten years of age, her parents divorced, with her mother Janet going on to marry Hugh D. Auchincloss. The family then moved to his home near Washington D.C.
In 1947, Jackie Kennedy enrolled at Vassar College. After studying at Sorbonne, in Paris, during her junior year, she returned to graduate from George Washington University in 1951.
Her time in France made Jackie empathize with people in foreign countries, especially the French. But at that time, she didn’t know that she would become the First Lady of the United States one day.
“I loved it more than any year of my life. Being away from home gave me a chance to look at myself with a jaundiced eye,” Jackie Kennedy said of her year in France.
“I learned not to be ashamed of a real hunger for knowledge, something I had always tried to hide, and I came home glad to start in here again but with a love for Europe that I am afraid will never leave me.”
After graduating from George Washington University, Jackie got her first job at the Washington Times-Herald Newspaper. She became the “Inquiring Camera Girl,” and, during her job hours, she roamed around the city, taking pictures of people and asking them different questions depending on the issue of that specific day.
She continued to write columns for the newspaper, where she interviewed people such as Richard M. Nixon, and covered the first inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Through her work at the Herald, Jackie met her future husband, John F. Kennedy. In 1952, she was invited to a dinner party in Georgetown, hosted by her friend and fellow journalist Charles Bartlett.
How did Jackie Kennedy and John F. Kennedy meet?
He was also friends with John Kennedy. The pair met, and John and Jackie instantly hit it off.
“She knew instantly that he would have a profound, perhaps disturbing, influence on her life,” Jackie’s family friend Molly Thayer said, as quoted in America’s Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Even though Jackie left to go on another date, sparks had already flown at her meeting with future president John. According to his youngest brother, Ted Kennedy, he adored her.
“My brother really was smitten with her right from the very beginning when he first met her at dinner,” he claimed.
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