Who was Jackie Kennedy?


Born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in New York in 1929, she died there as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1994, aged 64. She was the most famous woman in the United States and for decades was known popularly as Jackie and later Jackie O [for Onassis]; but she signed her letters Jacqueline.

She was born on July 28th, 1929, into a wealthy family. Her mother, Janet Norton Lee, had Irish roots; and her father, of French lineage, was the stockbroker John Vernou “Black Jack” Bouvier. Her parents divorced in 1940 and in 1942 Janet married oil heir Hugh Dudley Auchincloss jnr.

Jackie was educated at Miss Porter’s School, a boarding school for girls in Connecticut; and later at Vassar College, New York, where she studied history, literature, art and French. She then spent a year in Paris, where she studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and lived with the de Renty family at 76 Avenue Mozart.

She returned to the US and graduated from George Washington University with a BA degree in French literature. She then briefly pursued a career in journalism – with The Washington Times-Herald newspaper – which she left to marry, in 1954, John F Kennedy, who had been elected to the US senate two years previously. He was elected US president in November 1960 and Jackie served as first lady from January 1961 until his assassination in Dallas in November 1963.

In 1968 she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who died in 1975. She then worked as a publisher in New York until her death from cancer in 1994 at the age of 64. She was survived by two children: John Fitzgerald Kennedy jnr, who died in an aircraft crash in 1995; and Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, currently US ambassador to Japan.

She visited Ireland once with her husband, in 1955, but did not join JFK’s historic visit to Ireland in 1963 because she was pregnant with a son, Patrick, who died two days after his birth in August. She spent a month in Ireland in 1967 – on an extended holiday with Caroline and John jnr – in Co Waterford.