Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“The only routine with me is no routine at all.”

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, former First Lady of the United States, 1929-1994

One of the most recognizable first ladies, “Jackie” Kennedy Onassis was also a writer, photographer, and book editor. The youngest first lady in 80 years, she was also regarded as an international fashion icon, remembered for her glamor and elegance. She wore this silk-dupioni Christian Dior gown at the White House state dinner honoring the French Minister of Culture in 1962.

As a child, Jackie Kennedy loved horseback-riding, writing and painting. After boarding school, she attended Vassar, and during a year-abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris, polished up her French and love of French culture and fashion that would inform her whole life. With her intellect and keen eye, she launched her career in 1951 as a reporter/photographer at the Washington Times-Herald. That same year she would meet John  F. Kennedy, and they would marry two years later. Following a stillbirth and a miscarriage, Caroline Kennedy was born in 1957, followed by John F Kennedy Jr., in 1960, just weeks after his father was elected President of the United States. 

Jackie Kennedy wrote a column called “Campaign Wife,” but set aside her pen to attend to the family (her priority) and official duties as first lady, a title she disliked. She and the President oversaw the replanting of the White House Rose Garden with their friend Bunny Mellon. It was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden in 1962. She told Mellon that her husband spent his happiest hours there and she kept a scrapbook of the garden’s redesign. She then turned her attention to the White House itself, restoring it to its original elegance, giving a famous televised tour in 1962.  

Jackie Kennedy was such a trend-setter that women began to copy her hairstyles, her pillbox hats, and even named their daughters after her. On an official tour, the President joked that he was merely “the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris.”

On November 22, 1963 she was seated beside him in the motorcade when the President was assassinated, and attended Lyndon B Johnson's oath of office in her blood-stained suit that very same day.

Jackie Kennedy moved to New York and in 1968, married Aristotle Onassis, one of the wealthiest men in the world. Her style became more bohemian, and she returned to her first love—books—as an editor at Viking Press and Doubleday. She was also instrumental in the restoration of New York’s Grand Central Terminal.


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