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Posts Tagged ‘Marlon Brando’

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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Clark Gable (1901-1960)

Clark Gable (1901-1960)

In my last two posts, I blogged about Clark Gable destroying undershirt sales when he took off his shirt in the 1934 Columbia picture “It Happened One Night” to reveal only bare skin and no undergarment. Men wanted to be like Gable and stopped buying undershirts. It would take a war, 17 more years, and another sexy actor before undergarments would become popular again. This time though, the t-shirt would jump from underwear to outerwear.

It was 1951, the actor was Marlon Brando, and the production was “A Streetcar Named Desire.” On Broadway and then on the big screen, Brando electrified audiences with his portrayal of the animalistic Stanley Kowalski who struts about in his stand-alone, outerwear t-shirt. Originally, the t-shirt was issued by the U.S. Navy (as early as 1913) as a crew-necked, short-sleeved, white cotton undershirt to be worn under a uniform. Although men did wear soft cotton tees after the war, they were worn for labor or under a dress shirt, but not to be seen in public. But Brando’s Kowalski is a brawny exhibitionist, fond of strutting about the streets in a tight, sweaty, smelly, and sticky tee that accentuates his massive torso and rippling biceps. Brando pulls the tee shirt up and over his head in one scene as he flirts with the sister-in-law, and in another scene, rips at his shirt in anguish as he cries upstairs to his wife with the unforgettable line, “Stella!” (Click to see.)

Actor James Dean (1931-1955)

Actor James Dean (1931-1955)

Offscreen, Marlon Brando took the rebel fashion statement even further, pairing his white t-shirt with boots, motorcycle, and an anti-establishment sneer. It started a t-shirt craze. Next thing we know, movie icon James Dean (“Rebel Without A Cause,” see last post) borrows the Brando t-shirt, jeans and boots look but tops it off with a jeans jacket. From that point on, the t-shirt is set loose and becomes next the symbol of restless and rebellious American youth.

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