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Jackie Kennedy holds son John F. Kennedy, Jr., born November 25, 1960, 16 days after his father, John F. Kennedy won the presidential election. He was nicknamed "John-John." Three years later on his own birthday, John F. Kennedy, Jr., would salute his father's coffin at his funeral.

Jackie Kennedy holds son John F. Kennedy, Jr., born November 25, 1960, 16 days after his father, John F. Kennedy won the presidential election. He was nicknamed “John-John.” Three years later on his own birthday, John F. Kennedy, Jr. would salute his father’s coffin at his funeral.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994) is remembered for many things, her fashion statements, her redecoration of the White House, her brave young face at the 1963 funeral of her slain husband President John F. Kennedy. There were many things she cared about. But what mattered to her most in life was raising her two children, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and Caroline Kennedy (Schlossberg), to be good people. She said:

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”

She wanted so much for her children to lead normal lives. But, in the aftermath of JFK‘s assassination, it proved to be an impossible dream. She tried to continue living in their Georgetown home but tour buses added it to their route and reporters mobbed them on their doorstep. The crowds were too much to bear.

“The world is pouring terrible adoration at the feet of my children,” she’d once confided to her decorator Billy Baldwin, “and I fear for them, for this awful exposure. How can I bring them up normally?” (1)

Jackie ended up moving them all to New York where, to her dismay, she discovered her children weren’t being invited for playdates and parties by their school friends. It turned out that their parents were intimated by the Kennedy children’s fame.

Jackie Kennedy, wife of then-Senator John F. Kennedy, reads a bedtime story to daughter, Caroline, at the family home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. Jackie Kennedy loved books and passed this joy on to her children. September 13, 1960

Jackie Kennedy, wife of then-Senator John F. Kennedy, reads a bedtime story to daughter, Caroline, at the family home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. Jackie Kennedy loved books and passed this joy on to her children. September 13, 1960

In the post-JFK years, Jackie wasn’t just mobbed by tourists and reporters. The beautiful and charming young widow was besieged by male suitors, among them author Philip Roth, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, and director Mike Nichols. Jackie’s friend and White House advisor Letitia Baldrige said that, even in the pre-JFK years, “she [Jackie] had more men per square inch than any woman I’ve ever known.”

Jackie Kennedy Onassis with husband Ari Onassis on June 5, 1969, at New York's Kennedy Airport

Jackie Kennedy Onassis with husband Ari Onassis on June 5, 1969, at New York’s Kennedy Airport

By 1968, Jackie’s most serious – and unlikely –  suitor was Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, “Ari,” for short. Whereas Jackie was cultured, sleek, and classy, Onassis was short, paunchy, and often rumpled and vulgar. Plus, he was 23 years Jackie’s senior. The Kennedy clan despised him. JFK’s younger brother, Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, who was running for president that year, urged Jackie to break off her relationship with Onassis. She promised him that she would put off talk of marriage until after the presidential election.

Then, on June 5, 1968,  just moments after winning the California primary, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Jackie was devastated – and terrified.

I despise America,” a distraught Jackie told a friend. “If they are killing Kennedys, my children are the No. 1 targets. I want to get out of this country.”

She did, on October 20, when, in a small private ceremony, she wed Ari Onassis on the Greek isle of Skorpios. She was 39; he was 62. (1)

Readers, I’ve written several posts on the Kennedy family. Scroll down the sidebar to the right: Categories – Kennedys. Among them are:
“How to Be Jackie O”
“Did Jackie Love Bobby Best?”

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Jackie Kennedy during the White House years

Jackie Kennedy during the White House years

From USA Today Online, July 6, 2009:

Book: Jackie, RFK had four-year affair

The New York Post, quoting a new book, reports that Jackie Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy had a four-year love affair that began shortly after President Kennedy was killed.

Author C. David Heymann says Bobby was Jackie’s “true love” and that the affair was well known among family members. When Bobby was shot after winning the California presidential primary, Jackie — not Bobby’s wife Ethel Kennedy or his brother Ted Kennedy — ordered that he be removed from a respirator, the book says.

The book, Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story, arrives in stores this month. The Post says it “includes recollections of the steamy affair” from Kennedy family intimates, including Pierre Salinger, Arthur Schlesinger, Jack Newfield, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote and Morton Downey Jr. Heymann told the paper he spent nearly two decades researching the book and had access to FBI and Secret Service files. Tapes of his interviews are available at the SUNY Stony Brook library.

The Kennedy family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts on the night after John F Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election. Front row from left: Eunice Shriver, Rose Kennedy , Joseph Kennedy , Jacqueline Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. Back row, from left: Ethel Kennedy, Stephen Smith, Jean Smith, John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy, Pat Lawford , Sargent Shriver, Joan Kennedy, and Peter Lawford

The Kennedy family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts on the night after John F Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election. Front row from left: Eunice Shriver, Rose Kennedy , Joseph Kennedy , Jacqueline Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. Back row, from left: Ethel Kennedy, Stephen Smith, Jean Smith, John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy, Pat Lawford , Sargent Shriver, Joan Kennedy, and Peter Lawford

Among the book’s revelations:

— Six months after JFK’s death, during a May 1964 dinner cruise on the presidential yacht the USS Sequoia, Bobby and Jackie “exchanged poignant glances” before disappearing below deck, leaving Ethel upstairs. “When they returned, they looked as chummy and relaxed as a pair of Cheshire cats,” according to Schlesinger.

— At one point, Ethel Kennedy implored family friend Frank Moore to “tell Bobby to stop sleeping with Jackie.” Instead, Moore told her to find a marriage counselor.

— Shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis — RFK’s rival for Jackie’s attention — once threatened to “bring down” Bobby by going public with details of the affair. “I could bury that sucker,” Onassis said, “although I’d lose Jackie in the process.”

The New York Daily News reports that the book already is generating criticism:

“It’s a new low, and you just wonder how far people are willing to go,” Laurence Learner, author of The Kennedy Men, The Kennedy Women and Sons of Camelot told the paper.

“[Heymann] is just trying to make a buck. Yes, Bobby and Jackie had a relationship as friends, but [the romance] is a total exaggeration. I feel sorry for Heymann,” he said.

 

To read more on Ethel Kennedy, read “Mama Remembers Ethel Kennedy.”

To read more on Jackie Kennedy Onassis, click “How to be Jackie O” and “Why Jackie Kennedy Married Ari Onassis.”

 To read more on the Kennedys, scroll down the right sidebar to “Categories – People – Kennedys.”

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