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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Silver Pitcher presented to White House (Portrait).jpg
Kennedy in December 1961
First Lady of the United States
In role
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Preceded byMamie Eisenhower
Succeeded byLady Bird Johnson
Personal details
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier

(1929-07-28)July 28, 1929
Southampton, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 19, 1994(1994-05-19) (aged 64)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathNon-Hodgkin lymphoma
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Domestic partnerMaurice Tempelsman
(1980–1994; her death)
ChildrenArabella, Caroline, John Jr., Patrick
RelativesCaroline Lee Bouvier (sister)
EducationVassar College
George Washington University (BA)
OccupationSocialite, writer, photographer, book editor
Other names
  • Jacqueline Kennedy
  • Jacqueline Onassis

Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis (née Bouvier /ˈbvi/ boo-VEE-ay; July 28, 1929 – May 19, 1994) was an American socialite, writer, photographer and book editor. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 1961 until November 22, 1963 as the wife of 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy. She was popular as First Lady because she helped preserved the White House and for her fashion style.[1] One of her best known fashion outfits was her pink Chanel suit and matching pillbox hat that she wore in Dallas, Texas, when the president was assassinated on November 22, 1963.[2] It has become a symbol of her husband's death.[2]

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was born on July 28, 1929 in Southampton, New York, to Wall Street stockbroker John Vernou Bouvier III and socialite Janet Lee Bouvier. In 1951, she graduated from George Washington University and worked for the Washington Times-Herald as a photographer.[3] A year later, she met then-U.S. Representative John F. Kennedy at a dinner party in Washington D.C.

He was elected to the Senate that same year, and the couple married on September 12, 1953, in Newport, Rhode Island. They had four children, two of which died in infancy. After her husband was elected President of the United States in 1960, Kennedy was known for her restoration of the White House and support of arts and culture.[4][5] At age 31, she was the third-youngest First Lady of the United States when her husband inaugurated and became president on January 20, 1961.[6]

After the assassination and funeral of her husband, Kennedy and her two children retired from public life. In October 1968, she married a Greek businessman named Aristotle Onassis, which made her less popular and famous. After his death in 1975, she had a career as a book editor in New York City, first at Viking Press and then at Doubleday. Even after her death, she is still seen as one of the most popular and well known first ladies in American History. In 1999, she was named as one of Gallup's Most-Admired Men and Women of the 20th century.[7] She died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma on May 19, 1994 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to President Kennedy on May 23, 1994.

Early life

Kennedy Onassis, aged 6, in 1935

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born on July 28, 1929 in Southampton, New York, to Wall Street stockbroker John Vernou "Black Jack" Bouvier III and Janet Norton Lee.[8] Her mother was of Irish descent and her father had French, Scottish, and English ancestry.[9] She was raised as a Roman Catholic.[8] She had a sister, Caroline Lee, who was born four years later on March 3, 1933.[10]

Kennedy Onassis lived in Manhattan and at the Bouviers' country home in East Hampton on Long Island during her early childhood.[8] She respected her father and Bouvier III called his oldest daughter "the most beautiful daughter a man ever had".[11]

From an early age, Kennedy Onassis was an equestrienne who competed in the sport.[12] She took ballet lessons and learned many languages.[13] She spoke English, French, Spanish, and Italian.[13] In 1935, she began going to Manhattan's Chapin School.[12] One of her teachers called her "a darling child, the prettiest little girl, very clever, very artistic, and full of the devil".[6]

The marriage of her parents became worse because of her father's alcoholism.[8] Her parents had financial problems caused by the Wall Street Crash of 1929.[8] They separated in 1936 and divorced four years later.[8] In 1942, her mother married lawyer Hugh Dudley Auchincloss Jr..[8] The family would move into his McLean, Virginia home.[8]

After seven years at Chapin, Kennedy Onassis went to Holton-Arms School in Washington, D.C..[14] She stayed there from 1942 until 1944.[14] She later went to Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut.[14] Kennedy Onassis stayed there from 1944 to 1947.[14] In 1947, she began studying at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.[8] She studied in France at the University of Grenoble in Grenoble during her junior year.[8] She also went to the Sorbonne in Paris.[8] She was part of a program through Smith College.[8] She transferred to George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature in 1951.[15] She later went to George Washington University to take educational classes on American history.[15]

While at George Washington University, Kennedy Onassis won a twelve-month junior editorship at Vogue magazine.[16] This made her to work for six months in the magazine's New York City office and work the last six months in Paris.[16] The trip was the reason why she wrote her only autobiography, One Special Summer.[16] After Vogue, she began working for the Washington Times-Herald as a part-time receptionist.[17] In 1952, she was briefly engaged to a young stockbroker named John Husted and broke-off the engagement because he was "boring".[18]

Marriage to John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on their wedding day in September 1953

Kennedy Onassis first met U.S. Representative John F. Kennedy after journalist Charles L. Bartlett helped the two meet up.[8] They met at a dinner party in May 1952.[8] Both had many things in common such as their Catholicism, writing, liked reading and lived abroad during college.[19] Kennedy was busy running for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts when they first met.[8] Their relationship became more serious and he ask her to marry him after he was elected Senator.[8] Kennedy Onassis took some time to accept, because she had been asked to report on the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London for The Washington Times-Herald.[20] After a month in Europe, she returned to the United States and accepted Kennedy's marriage proposal.[21] Their engagement was officially announced on June 25, 1953.[22]

They were married on September 12, 1953 in Newport, Rhode Island by Boston's Archbishop Richard Cushing.[23] The wedding had 700 guests at the ceremony and 1,200 at the reception.[24] In the first years of their marriage, the couple had many problems. John Kennedy was diagnosed with Addison's disease and back pain caused by a war injury.[25] In late 1954, he had surgery on his spine which almost killed him.[25] Kennedy Onassis had a miscarriage in 1955 and in August 1956 gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Arabella.[26][27] They lived in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts.[28][29]

Kennedy Onassis gave birth to their daughter Caroline on November 27, 1957.[26] During his senate re-election campaign, John Kennedy began to see how popular his wife was.[30] He asked her to campaign with him for his re-election.[30] In November 1958, John was re-elected to a second term in the Senate and he thanked his wife's appearances at events.[30] In 1959, Kennedy Onassis stayed at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts caring for Caroline while her husband began raising money for a possible presidential campaign in Louisiana.[31]

1960 presidential election

The Kennedys at a campaign event in Appleton, Wisconsin, March 1960

On January 3, 1960, John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency.[6] In the early months of the election year, Kennedy Onassis traveled with her husband to campaign events.[32][6] Shortly after the campaign began, she became pregnant.[32][6] She decided to stay at home in Georgetown during most of her husband's campaign because of her pregnancy.[32] She took part of her husband's campaign by writing a weekly newspaper column, Campaign Wife.[6] She answered questions and gave interviews to the media.[6]

Kennedy Onassis had a large amount of media attention because of her fashion choices.[33] While her fashion choices made her popular, many criticized her for being rich.[34] To stop the focus of her wealthy past, Kennedy Onassis talked about the amount of work she was doing for the campaign.[35] She also did not want to talk about her fashion choices.[35]

On July 13, 1960 at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy was nominated for president. Kennedy Onassis did not go to the convention because of her pregnancy.[36] She was in Hyannis Port where she watched the September 26, 1960 debate between her husband and Republican candidate and Vice President Richard Nixon.[37] Her husband would go on to be elected the 35th President of the United States.[38] A little over two weeks after the election, on November 25, Kennedy Onassis gave birth to the couple's first son, John F. Kennedy, Jr.[6]

First Lady, 1961–1963

The Kennedy family in September 1961

John F. Kennedy became president on January 20, 1961.[6] Kennedy Onassis did not want her children to be unprotected around the media at an early age.[39] As a result, she stayed with them in Middleburg, Virginia for a short time.[39] She was the first presidential wife to hire a press secretary.[40] Pamela Turnure, carefully managed her contact with the media.[40] The media saw Kennedy Onassis as the "perfect woman" and she got worldwide positive public attention.[41] She also helped get allies for the White House and international support for the Kennedy administration and its Cold War policies.[41]

At first, Kennedy Onassis said that her main focus as the First Lady of the United States was to take care of the President and their children.[42] She later dedicated her time to support American arts and preservation of its history.[42] The restoration of the White House was her well known work.[34] She was also known for hosting many social events from politics and the arts.[42] One of her goals that she was unable to reach was to create a Department of the Arts.[34] She did help create the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.[34]

White House restoration

Kennedy Onassis with poet Robert Frost at a White House event in April 1962

Kennedy Onassis did not like that most of the White House had few historical artifacts or furniture.[42] Her first major project as first lady was to restore the White House.[42] She helped create a family living area by adding a kitchen on the family floor and new rooms for her children.[42] She created a fine arts committee to find the money for her restoration of the White House.[42] She also wanted to redesign and replant most of the Rose Garden and the East Garden.[42] The garden would later be renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden after her husband's assassination.[42] Kennedy Onassis helped stop the destruction of historic homes in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., because she thought these buildings were an important part of the nation's capital and its history.[42]

Kennedy Onassis with John Jr. at the White House in August 1962

Before she became first lady, presidents and their families had taken furniture and other items from the White House when they left office.[43] This was why the White House had few historical items.[43] She personally wrote letters to find the missing furniture and other historical pieces.[43] Kennedy Onassis supported a Congressional bill saying that White House furniture and other items would be the property of the Smithsonian Institution.[44] She also started the White House Historical Association, the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, the position of a permanent Curator of the White House, the White House Endowment Trust, and the White House Acquisition Trust.[45][46][47]

On February 14, 1962, Kennedy Onassis took American television viewers on a tour of the White House on CBS News.[47] During the tour, she said that "The American people should be proud of it. We have such a great civilization. So many foreigners don't realize it. I think this house should be the place we see them best".[47][48] 56 million television viewers in the United States watched the tour.[42] Kennedy won a special Emmy Award in 1962, making her the only first lady to win an Emmy.[40]

Foreign trips

Kennedy Onassis with Indira Gandhi during her official trip to India in New Delhi, March 1962

Kennedy Onassis made many official visits to other countries, on her own or with the President.[15] In 1961, the Kennedys began their official trip of Europe in France.[49] After arriving in the country, many liked her including President of France Charles de Gaulle because she could speak French and her knowledge of French history.[50][49] Time magazine gave a positive note about the trip saying "There was also that fellow who came with her".[51] Even President Kennedy joked, "I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris – and I have enjoyed it!"[51][52]

From France, the Kennedys traveled to Vienna, Austria, where Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was asked to shake the President's hand for a photo.[53] He replied, "I'd like to shake her hand first".[53] The U.S. Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith recommended Kennedy Onassis to begin a tour in India and Pakistan with her sister Lee Radziwill in 1962.[53] President of Pakistan Ayub Khan, had given her a horse named Sardar as a gift.[54] He had found out on his visit to the White House that he and the First Lady had a common interest in horses.[54] Life magazine wrote that Kennedy "[handled] herself magnificently", but found that her crowds were smaller than former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II.[55]

Kennedy Onassis would later travel to other countries including Afghanistan, Austria, Canada,[56] Colombia, United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Mexico,[57] Morocco, Turkey, and Venezuela representing the United States.[15] Unlike her husband, Kennedy Onassis spoke Spanish well, which she used to address Latin American audiences.[58]

Death of Patrick Kennedy

In early 1963, Kennedy was again pregnant, with the couple's third child.[59] She spent most of the summer at a home she and the President had rented near the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.[59]

The Kennedys in March 1963

On August 7, five week early of her due date, she went into labor.[59] She gave birth to a boy, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy through an emergency Caesarean section at nearby Otis Air Force Base.[59] The baby's lungs were not fully developed and died of hyaline membrane disease two days after birth.[60] Kennedy was at Otis Air Force Base to recovery after the Caesarean delivery.[59] Her husband went to Boston to be with their infant son and was there when he died.[59] On August 14, the President returned to Otis to take her home and gave a speech to thank nurses who had cared for her.[59] As a thank you, Kennedy Onassis gave the hospital staff a framed and signed lithographs of the White House.[59]

Kennedy Onassis's health was affected by Patrick's death because she suffered from depression shortly afterwards.[61] However, the loss of their child helped the Kennedy's marriage and brought the couple closer together since they were both mourning.[61] Before Patrick's death, Kennedy Onassis was distant with her husband after rumors of him cheating on her.[62][63] It was said that Kennedy had cheated on her with Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Pamela Turnure, Angie Dickinson and Blaze Starr.[64]

Assassination and funeral of John F. Kennedy

The Kennedys and the Connellys shortly before the president's assassination

On November 21, 1963, the Kennedys went on a political trip to Texas to get more support for her husband's 1964 campaign.[65] After a breakfast on November 22, they took a very short flight on Air Force One from Fort Worth's Carswell Air Force Base.[66] They landed at Dallas's Love Field with Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie.[66] Kennedy Onassis was wearing a bright pink Chanel suit and a pillbox hat, President Kennedy personally picked for her to wear.[67] A 9.5-mile (15.3 km) motorcade was to take them to the Trade Mart.[68] Kennedy Onassis was sitting next her husband in the presidential limousine.[69]

Kennedy, still wearing her blood-stained pink Chanel suit, stands next to Lyndon B. Johnson as he is sworn-in aboard Air Force One

After the motorcade turned the corner onto Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, Kennedy Onassis heard loud bangs and she thought it was a motorcycle backfiring.[70] She did not realize that it was a gunshot until she heard Governor Connally scream.[70] Two more shots had been fired, one of them hit her husband in the head.[71] She quickly began to climb onto the back of the limousine.[71] Secret Service agent Clint Hill later told the Warren Commission that he thought she had been reaching across the trunk for a piece of her husband's skull that had been blown off.[71] Hill ran to the car and jumped onto it, telling her back to go back to her seat.[71] She would later say that she saw pictures "of me climbing out the back. But I don't remember that at all".[70]

President Kennedy died not long afterward, aged 46.[69] After her husband died, Kennedy did not want to remove her blood-stained clothing.[72] She told Lady Bird Johnson that she wanted "them to see what they have done to Jack".[72] She continued to wear the blood-stained pink suit as she boarded Air Force One.[72] She stood next to Lyndon B. Johnson when he took the oath of office as the 36th President of the United States.[69][72] The suit was donated to the National Archives and Records Administration in 1964.[72] It will not be placed on public display until 2103 because of an agreement with Caroline Kennedy.[73]

Kennedy Onassis with her children and Robert F. Kennedy at the state funeral of President Kennedy

Kennedy Onassis was the main organizer of her husband's state funeral.[74] It was inspired from Abraham Lincoln's funeral.[74] She wanted her husband's casket to be closed, even though her brother-in-law and Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy wanted it to be open.[75] The funeral service was held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C.[74] He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[74] Many respected her role and appearance at the funeral.[76] The Evening Standard wrote "Jacqueline Kennedy has given the American people ... one thing they have always lacked: Majesty".[76]

A week after the assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson wrote an executive order that created the Warren Commission.[77] It was led by Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the assassination.[77] Ten months later, the Commission found that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone when he killed President Kennedy.[78] Kennedy Onassis did not care about the investigation.[79] She said that even if they had the right suspect, it would not bring her husband back.[79] She spoke to the commission about the events of her husband's assassination.[70]

After the assassination, Kennedy Onassis and her children left from public view and activities.[80]

Life after the assassination, 1963–1975

Mourning period and later activities

Kennedy Onassis with Randolph Churchill in New York City, January 1966

On November 29, 1963, a week after her husband's assassination, Theodore H. White of Life magazine interviewed Kennedy Onassis at her home in Hyannis Port.[81] While being interviewed, she compared the Kennedy years in the White House to King Arthur's Camelot.[81] Kennedy Onassis said that the her husband played the title song of Lerner and Loewe's musical recording before going to bed.[81] She said a line from the musical, trying to show how the loss felt by saying.[82] She said "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot. There'll be great presidents again ... but there will never be another Camelot".[82][81] Her husband was nicknamed "Camelot" and his presidency the "Camelot Era" because of this.[83]

Kennedy Onassis and her children stayed in the White House for two weeks after the assassination.[84] President Lyndon B. Johnson wanted to "do something nice for Jackie".[85] He wanted to make her Ambassador to France, Mexico and the United Kingdom.[85] Kennedy Onassis said no to any ambassador roles.[85] Johnson renamed the Florida space center the John F. Kennedy Space Center a week after the assassination.[86] Kennedy Onassis later publicly thanked Johnson for his kindness to her.[85]

Kennedy Onassis with Cambodian leader Norodom Sihanouk, 1968

Kennedy Onassis spent 1964 in mourning and made few public appearances.[8] Some believed she was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.[8][87][88] In the winter after the assassination, she and the children stayed at Averell Harriman's home in Georgetown.[89] On January 14, 1964, she spoke on television thanking the public for the "hundreds of thousands of messages" she had gotten since the assassination.[90] She bought a house for herself and her children in Georgetown, but sold it later in 1964.[91] She bought a 15th-floor penthouse apartment for $250,000 at 1040 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to have more privacy.[91][92][93]

Kennedy Onassis would go to a few memorial ceremonies dedicated to her husband.[94] In 1967, she went to the opening ceremony of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67).[95] She also went to a private ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery that saw the moving of her husband's coffin to build a safer eternal flame.[96] She also was in charge of the creation of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.[97]

During the Vietnam War in November 1967, Life magazine named Kennedy Onassis "America's unofficial roving ambassador".[98] This was because of her trip with David Ormsby-Gore to Cambodia.[98] Many historians saw that her visit was "the start of the repair to Cambodian-US relations".[99] She also went to the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, in April 1968.[100]

Relationship with Robert F. Kennedy

After President Kennedy's assassination, his brother Robert F. Kennedy had a close relationship with Kennedy Onassis

After her husband's assassination, Kennedy Onassis became closer with her brother-in-law Robert F. Kennedy.[101] After President Kennedy's assassination, Robert became a father figure for her children.[101] Kennedy Onassis supported him staying in politics.[101] She supported his 1964 campaign for United States senator from New York.[101]

When President Johnson's approval ratings fell, many wanted Senator Kennedy to run for president in 1968.[102] When Art Buchwald asked him if he wanted to run, Robert replied, "That depends on what Jackie wants me to do".[103] She met with him around this time and she told him to run.[102] However, she was worried about his safety.[102]

On June 5, 1968, a Palestinian gunman named Sirhan Sirhan shot Senator Kennedy in Los Angeles.[104] Kennedy Onassis went to the hospital to be with Senator Kennedy's wife Ethel, her brother-in-law Ted, and the other Kennedy family members.[105] Robert Kennedy died the next day, aged 42.[106]

Marriage to Aristotle Onassis

Aristotle Onassis was Kennedy Onassis's second husband from 1968 until his death in 1975

After Robert Kennedy's death in 1968, Kennedy Onassis had depression again.[107] She became worried about her life and of her two children.[107] In response, she said "If they're killing Kennedys, then my children are targets ... I want to get out of this country".[107]

On October 20, 1968, Kennedy Onassis married her long-time friend Aristotle Onassis.[107] He was a rich Greek businessman who was able to give the privacy and security she wanted for.[107] The wedding took place on Skorpios, Onassis's private Greek island in the Ionian Sea.[108] After marrying Onassis, she took the legal name Jacqueline Onassis.[109] She lost her right to Secret Service protection when she married Onassis.[109] Many believed that Kennedy Onassis might have been excommunicated by the Roman Catholic church.[110] This was because she married a divorced man.[110] She was seen by some as a "public sinner".[111]

During their marriage, the Onassiss had six different homes: her 15-room Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan, her horse farm in New Jersey, his Avenue Foch apartment in Paris, his private island Skorpios, his house in Athens, and his yacht Christina O.[112]

Aristotle Onassis's health became worse after the death of his son Alexander in a plane crash in 1973.[113] Aeristotle Onassis died of respiratory failure caused by myasthenia gravis at aged 69 in Paris on March 15, 1975.[114] After two years of legal problems, Kennedy Onassis got $26 million from her step-daughter Christina Onassis.[115]

Later years, 1975–1990s

Kennedy Onassis with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, June 1985

Kennedy Onassis returned to the United States after her second husband died.[116] She lived in Manhattan, Martha's Vineyard, and the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port.[116] In 1975, she became an editor at Viking Press.[117] She worked there for two years.[117]

Kennedy Onassis went to the 1976 Democratic National Convention.[118] This was her first political event in almost ten years. She quit Viking Press in 1977.[119] This was after Viking's published Jeffrey Archer's novel Shall We Tell the President?.[119] The story happens in a fictional future presidency of Ted Kennedy. The book was about a plan to assassinate him.[119] Two years later, she appeared alongside her mother-in-law Rose Kennedy in Boston.[120] This was when Ted Kennedy announced that he was going to run for president.[120]

Kennedy Onassis with First Lady Hillary Clinton, August 1993

After she left Viking Press, Kennedy Onassis worked for Doubleday.[121] She was an associate editor.[121] Some of the books she edited for the company were Larry Gonick's The Cartoon History of the Universe,[122] the English translation of Naghib Mahfuz's Cairo Trilogy,[123] and autobiographies of ballerina Gelsey Kirkland,[124] singer-songwriter Carly Simon,[125] and fashion icon Diana Vreeland.[124]

A section of the Grand Central Terminal is named after Kennedy Onassis

In the 1970s, she supported a campaign to save Grand Central Terminal from demolition and fixing it.[126] A plaque inside the terminal talks about her role in its preservation.[126] In the 1980s, she supported protests against a planned skyscraper at Columbus Circle that would have created a large shadows on Central Park.[126] She also supported to save Olana, the home of Frederic Edwin Church in New York.[127]

Kennedy Onassis was had many press attention.[116] Paparazzi photographer Ron Galella followed her around and photographed her without her permission.[128][129] From 1980 until her death, Onassis had a close relationship with Maurice Tempelsman.[130] He is a Belgian-born businessman and was her personal financial adviser.[130]

In the early 1990s, Kennedy Onassis supported Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton for president.[131] She donated money to his presidential campaign.[131] Following the 1992 election, she met with First Lady Hillary Clinton.[132] They talked about raising a child in the White House.[132] Clinton later said that Kennedy Onassis was "a source of inspiration and advice for me".[133]


Kennedy Onassis's grave at Arlington National Cemetery

In November 1993, Kennedy Onassis was thrown from her horse while fox hunting in Middleburg, Virginia.[134] She was taken to the hospital.[134] A swollen lymph node was discovered in her groin.[134] It was diagnosed as an infection at first.[134][135] The fall made her health worse over the next six months.[134] In December, Kennedy Onassis had new symptoms such as stomach pain and swollen lymph nodes in her neck.[134] She was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[135][136] She began chemotherapy in January 1994.[135] By March, the cancer had spread to her spinal cord and brain.[135][134] By May it had spread to her liver and was diagnosed as terminal.[135][136]

Kennedy Onassis made her last trip home from New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center on May 18, 1994.[135][136] The next night, she died in her sleep at her Manhattan apartment, aged 64.[135] Her children were by her side.[136] In the morning, her son John F. Kennedy, Jr. announced his mother's death to the press.[137] He said that she had been "surrounded by her friends and her family and her books, and the people and the things that she loved".[137] He added that "She died it in her very own way, and on her own terms, and we all feel lucky for that".[137]

On May 23, 1994, her funeral was held and was very private.[138] She was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, next to her husband President Kennedy, their son Patrick, and their stillborn daughter Arabella.[8] President Bill Clinton delivered a eulogy at her graveside service.[139][140] At the time of her death, Onassis was survived by her children Caroline and John Jr., three grandchildren and sister Lee Radziwill.[8] She left an estate worth $43.7 million.[141]


The Municipal Art Society of New York has an award named after her, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal.[142] It is given to a person whose work has helped New York City greatly.[142] The medal was named in honor of her in 1994, for her works to preserve and protect New York City's architecture.[142] She made her last public appearance at the Municipal Art Society two months before her May 1994 death.[143] The White House's East Garden was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden in her honor.[42] A high school named Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School for International Careers, was opened in New York City in 1995.[144] It was the first high school named in her honor.[144] The main reservoir in Central Park was renamed in her honor.[145]


Official White House portrait of Kennedy Onassis

Kennedy Onassis is seen as one of the most popular First Ladies.[146] She was listed 27 times on the annual Gallup list of the top 10 most admired people of the second half of the 20th century.[146] This is higher than that of any U.S. President listed.[146] In 2011, she was named fifth place in a list of the five most influential First Ladies of the twentieth century.[147] This was for her "profound effect on American society".[147] In 2014, she came in third place in a Siena College Institute survey as the best First Lady.[148][149] She was behind Eleanor Roosevelt and Abigail Adams in the survey.[150]

In 2015, she was added in a list of the top ten inspirational First Ladies.[151] This was because of "her fashion sense and later after her husband's assassination, for her poise and dignity".[151] In 2020, Time magazine included her name on its list of 100 Women of the Year.[152] She was named Woman of the Year 1962 for her White House restoration works.[152]

Kennedy Onassis is seen as an important First Lady in American history.[153][154] Many historians feel that First Ladies since Kennedy Onassis have either been compared to or against her.[155] Since the late 2000s, her name has been used by political commentators when talking about the fashion style of political wives.[156][157]

Many of her well known clothes are preserved at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.[158] Pieces from the collection were shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2001.[159]

In 2012, Time magazine included Kennedy Onassis on its All-TIME 100 Fashion Icons list.[160] In 2016, Forbes included her on the list 10 Fashion Icons and the Trends They Made Famous.[161]

In 2016, Natalie Portman played Kennedy Onassis in a movie about her.[81] The movie was about her after the events of her husband's assassination and her interview with Theodore H. White.[81][162] For her role, Portman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.[163]

More readings

  • Hunt, Amber; Batcher, David (2014). Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America's Most Public Family. Lyons Press. p. 167. ISBN 978-0-7627-9634-2
  • Spoto, Donald (2000). Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-97707-8


  1. Craughwell-Varda, Kathleen (October 14, 1999). Looking for Jackie: American Fashion Icons. Hearst Books. ISBN 978-0-688-16726-4 . 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ford, Elizabeth; Mitchell, Deborah C. (March 2004). The Makeover in Movies: Before and After in Hollywood Films, 1941–2002. McFarland. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-7864-1721-6 . 
  3. "Photograph". 
  4. Hall, Mimi (September 26, 2010). "Jackie Kennedy Onassis: America's Quintessential Icon of Style and Grace". USA Today. Retrieved February 13, 2011. 
  5. Bachmann, Elaine Rice. "Circa 1961: The Kennedy White House Interiors". White House History. "The prescience of her words is remarkable given the influence she ultimately had on fashion, interior decoration, and architectural preservation from the early 1960s until her death in 1994. A disappointing visit to the Executive Mansion when she was 11 left a deep impression, one she immediately acted upon when she knew she was to become first lady ..." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 "Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy". The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. 
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