83 years ago, Jacqueline Bouvier, the woman who would become Jackie Kennedy, was born.
Born on July 28, 1929 to a wealthy Southampton NY family, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was an accomplished equestrian who maintained a lifelong interest in horsemanship. After her society debut in 1947, Miss Bouvier attended three different universities—and studied in France—before earning a BA in French Literature from George Washington University.
In September 1953, Jackie married then-US Representative, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, after sixteen months of courtship. When JFK triumphed in the 1960 presidential election, America’s First Family brought a toddler and an infant—Caroline and John Junior—to the White House.
A First Lady of class and grace, Jackie was beautiful, refined, and highly regarded as a fashion icon. An educated woman fluent in French, Spanish, and Italian, Mrs. Kennedy dazzled the French by speaking in their native tongue during a diplomatic visit. JFK later joked, “I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it.”
Believing that the White House lacked the majesty befitting the epicenter of government, Mrs. Kennedy committed herself to introducing culture and history to the home of the president. She planned numerous social events to which—alongside politicians, dignitaries, and diplomats—she invited scientists, musicians, artists, writers, and poets. Jackie also initiated the first full-scale renovation of the White House in over a hundred years. In 1962, the First Lady took Americans on a televised tour through the famed building, in a savvy political move that impressed not just the US, but ultimately the world.
On the fateful day of her husband’s assassination, Mrs. Kennedy wore a custom-made, vibrant pink Chanel suit with matching pillbox hat. Although her elegant ensemble became splattered with his blood, she refused to change. Jackie declared, “Let them see what they have done.”
In 1968, the young widow married Greek tycoon, Aristotle Onassis, in a union which would forever bestow upon her the nickname, Jackie O. Seven years later, she became a widow for the second time, when Onassis died of respiratory failure.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis enjoyed a long and successful career in publishing until her death in 1994, just two months shy of her sixty-fifth birthday. The East Garden of the White House is named the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden in her honor.
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