Jackie: Her Life in Pictures

Jackie: Her Life in Pictures

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by James Spada

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A legendary life shown in rare, mostly never before published photographs. Arguably the most famous woman of the twentieth century, certainly one of its most photographed, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis lived an astonishing life; her popularity and the fascination she held for people the world over during her nearly sixty years in the spotlight can hardly be

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A legendary life shown in rare, mostly never before published photographs. Arguably the most famous woman of the twentieth century, certainly one of its most photographed, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis lived an astonishing life; her popularity and the fascination she held for people the world over during her nearly sixty years in the spotlight can hardly be overestimated. And while that has led to a number of books about her, none has told her life story in the way this one does--entirely in photographs, from birth to death, with lively, anecdotal extended captions. Of the 251 photographs in Jackie: Her Life in Pictures, 165 have never been published, 58 have rarely been published (in newspapers or magazines but never in book form), and 28 are inescapable images that have been seared into the memories of everyone. Together with the text by James Spada that runs alongside them, these pictures tell the story of an American life that became legendary even while it was being lived, a story that will speak afresh to the hearts of all Americans.

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Editorial Reviews

More than 200 photographs -- some never before published -- tell the story of the elegant Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Follow Jackie's transformation from a cultured child of privilege to the intelligent, charming first lady who stole our hearts. The photographs illuminate Jackie's many roles, as well as occasionally chronicling historic moments, such as the aftermath of JFK's tragic assasination.

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Her Life in Pictures

By James Spada

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2000 James Spada
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-6639-3


part one

To The Manner Born

Her manner and carriage proclaimed her a thoroughbred, this child Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. Pretty and sepia-haired, she charmed without effort. Her smile flirted. Her wide-set, green-brown eyes missed little.

Privilege cushioned her world. Her home on Park Avenue, not far from the Metropolitan Museum, fueled a love of art and a sophistication. Idyllic summers at Lasata, her grandparents' estate on Long Island Sound in East Hampton, bequeathed to her a love of the water, and horses, and solitude. "I only care for the lonely sea/And I always will, I know," she wrote at thirteen. "For the love of the sea is born in me/It will never let me go."

Her wit and intelligence shone. Her mind absorbed information more quickly than other students, and her impatience prompted misbehavior. A school headmistress, at first at a loss, finally told Jackie that she reminded her of a thoroughbred horse. But what good would a great racehorse be, she asked, "if he wasn't trained to stay on the track, to stand still at the starting gate, to obey commands?" The analogy impressed the young equestrian. The filly stopped champing at the bit and allowed her trainers to break her in properly.

There were private sorrows. Her parents argued, separated, divorced. Moodiness and sensitivity leavened her effervescence now. Her schoolgirl poetry richly evoked the senses: "Along the waterfront I go/And hear the steamers' empty sighs/The river laps against the docks/And in the fog a seagull cries."

All who knew her sensed a potential for greatness. Perhaps she'd become a poet or a novelist. Before setting off to college, she proclaimed an ambition not to be a housewife. Few doubted she'd succeed at whatever she did. Even as early as grade school, her art teacher said, she was someone you'd never forget.

Mrs. John Bouvier proudly displays her big-eyed baby daughter, Jacqueline Lee, for a Christmas portrait in 1929. The child had been born the prior July 28. The former Janet Lee, Jackie's mother was born into wealth and privilege as the daughter of the chairman of the New York Central Savings Bank, James T. Lee, and Margaret Merritt Lee. Embraced by the Long Island "East Egg" set made famous by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, Janet became an accomplished horsewoman, studied at the finest schools, and lived in an eleven-room apartment with a gymnasium in one of Park Avenue's finest buildings.

When Janet was a teenager, her father discovered that her mother was having an affair. He moved out, and the Lees communicated only through Janet, whose forlorn task it was to shuttle messages back and forth between them.

At the Smithtown, Long Island, horse show in August 1933, John Vernou Bouvier III leads his four-year-old daughter in line class. The little girl adored her handsome, dashing father, a stockbroker known as Black Jack because of his inky hair and imperishable year-round tan. "He was powerful, wealthy, exotic, and undeniably, darkly attractive," his niece Kathleen Bouvier said. Jackie agreed. "A most devastating figure," she called him.

Four-year-old Jackie holds the hand of her infant sister, Caroline Lee, born in March of 1933. Although not as wealthy as the Lees, Black Jack Bouvier's family enjoyed a higher social status, due in part to a Bouvier genealogy his grandfather published privately in 1925 (and sent to genealogy societies across the country) that traced the family ancestry back to the sixteenth-century French aristocrat François Bouvier of "the ancient house of Fontaine."

The Bouviers' actual forebear was an ironmonger of the same name who lived two centuries later. Whether the mistake was purposeful or inadvertent, the genealogy, and the impressive family crest the Bouviers adapted from that of the house of Fontaine, brought them social acceptance as that rarest of breeds — a family descended from nobility.

By the age of six, little Jackie had proved to be a handful. Although she appears the model student in this photo outside Miss Chapin's School on Manhattan's East End Avenue, her misbehavior got her sent to the headmistress's office nearly every day. "Her problem at Chapin," her mother said, "was sheer boredom. Jackie would finish her lessons before any of the other children and, lacking things to do, would make a nuisance of herself."

Thirteen-year-old Jackie poses confidently next to her horse, Danseuse, at the East Hampton, Long Island, Horse Show in August 1942. From her first show at the age of four, Jackie had proved herself a determined competitor. Observers always could tell how Miss Bouvier had fared — if she hadn't won a ribbon, her face would be etched with a scowl. She won more than her share, as well as the admiration of fellow riders. One recalled her as "damned plucky. She'd get tossed on her butt while taking a jump and a moment later she'd be scrambling to climb back on."

"I was a tomboy," Jackie said. "I decided to learn to dance and then I became feminine." At a costume-class event at the 1942 East Hampton Horse Show, Miss Bouvier appears not only feminine but exceedingly lovely.

Jackie, sixteen, poses with her new family for a Christmas portrait in 1945. Her parents had divorced in 1940, mainly because of Blackjack's philandering, and two years later Janet married Hugh Auchincloss, an investment banker with a huge family fortune. They divided their time between Merrywood, a forty-six-acre estate overlooking the Potomac in McLean, Virginia, and the sprawling Hammersmith Farm in Newport, Rhode Island, which featured a mansion with twenty-eight rooms.

In this photo, Janet holds the newborn Janet. Next to her sits Hughdie and his son Thomas. In the row above are Nina Auchincloss and Lee Bouvier. At top are Jackie and Hugh D. Ill, known as Yusha.

"Ambition: Not to be a housewife." Jackie's graduation yearbook entry at Miss Porter's School, from which she was graduated in June of 1947. She boarded at the Farmington, Connecticut, school for three years, won good grades, and distinguished herself with both her love of learning and her hijinks. An editor of the school newspaper, she stuffed the dorm's fire alarm bell with paper before a drill. While serving as a member of a student leadership group, she "accidentally" dumped a pie in the lap of a teacher while clearing plates from the dining room.

She was well liked but had few close friends. The closest was her roommate, Nancy Tuckerman (the "Tucky" of her yearbook entry), whom she had known since her days at Miss Chapin's School. She spent a great deal of time in her room reading, writing, and drawing. She drew a regular comic strip for the school paper, Frenzied Frieda, which chronicled a young woman who could never seem to keep herself out of trouble.

Jackie admires her coming-out dress in her bedroom mirror at Hammersmith Farm in August 1947. The society columnist Cholly Knickerbocker wrote of Jackie: "Every year a new Queen of Debutantes is crowned. Queen Deb of the Year is Jacqueline Bouvier, a regal brunette who has classic features and the daintiness of Dresden porcelain. She has poise, is soft-spoken and intelligent — everything the leading debutante should be."

About to enter Vassar College, Jackie now considered herself grown-up — especially since, she recalled, "I learned to smoke, in the balcony of the Normandie Theater in New York, from a girl who pressed a Longfellow upon me, then led me from the theater when the usher told her that other people could not hear the film with so much coughing going on."

Black Jack Bouvier, now fifty-six, poses with his eighteen-year-old daughter in 1947. Janet felt great enmity toward her ex-husband, and her vilification of him devastated Jackie. To her, Black Jack was a larger-than-life, romantic figure whose life on the edge she found exciting. She never held his marital infidelities against him. The writer Truman Capote, a family friend, described the Bouvier family dynamic: "I think [Jackie] could appreciate that her mother was this sort of hideous control freak, a cold fish with social ambitions, and her father was a naughty, naughty boy who kept getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Of course, both girls loved him more. Who wouldn't, given the choice?"

Jackie and fellow exchange students on the ocean liner De Grasse just before it set sail on August 24, 1949. Jackie's superb intelligence had brought her high grades her first two years at Vassar, but she found its small-town college atmosphere constricting. She longed to return to France, which had beguiled her when she first visited the country the summer after her freshman year. Now she would spend her junior year studying at the Sorbonne, and she was thrilled.

She lived with a French family in a small Paris apartment, where she spoke French exclusively. Accustomed to creature comforts, Jackie had a hard time adjusting to the postwar energy restrictions. She spent most of her time "swaddled in sweaters and woolen stockings," she wrote home, and once when she tried to increase her bathwater temperature, the hot-water heater exploded, shattering the bathroom window. Still, her love for Paris and all things French grew.

Jackie and Lee pose prettily for photographer Cecil Beaton in London during the summer of 1951. The trip to England and the Continent was a consolation offered to Jackie by her stepfather, who had talked her out of accepting a prize she'd won in a Vogue magazine contest. The prize included six months working at the publication's Paris bureau, and Hugh Auchincloss feared that Jackie might elect to stay in France permanently if she spent another extended period there.

Of all the enrichments her periods spent abroad had brought her, Jackie wrote, the most important was that she had "learned not to be ashamed of a real hunger for knowledge, something I had always tried to hide."

"The Inquiring Camera Girl." When she returned from her summer in Europe, Jackie decided she wanted to work. Her stepfather, a Republican, helped her get a job as a receptionist to the editor of the conservative Times-Herald in Washington, D.C. Within weeks she asked her boss to let her do some writing. He needed an inquiring photographer and asked her if she knew how to handle a Speed Graphic. She assured him she did, then signed up for a crash course in using the bulky professional camera.

She became proficient enough as a photographer, but it was the often-provocative questions she posed that made readers take notice of the column. "Would you rescue a great artist who is a scoundrel, or a commonplace, honest family man?" she asked for one column. For another, "If you had a date with Marilyn Monroe, what would you talk about?" After a few months one could discern a feminist cast to many of the queries: "Do you think a wife should let her husband think he's smarter than she is?" Finally she posed questions that were more statement than query: "When did you discover that women are not the weaker sex?"

Shortly after she began work at the Times-Herald, Jackie became engaged to John Husted, a tall, handsome Yale man and friend of the family. For Husted, it was love at first sight, and within weeks, he said, "we had sort of declared our love for each other." In January of 1952 they became engaged.

Jackie's friends and family were skeptical about the union. "He didn't have the same interests that Jackie had," Yusha Auchincloss recalled. "He was a banker, he belonged to all the right clubs, but that was about it." The long-distance nature of the relationship (Husted worked in New York) didn't help, and neither did Jackie's new independence. She enjoyed being out in the world, earning her own living, and both of these new experiences changed her mind about marrying Husted. "I knew I didn't want the rest of my life to be [in Newport]. I didn't want to marry any of the young men I'd grown up with — not because of them but because of their life."

After a few months, Jackie broke off the engagement. By then matchmaking friends had brought her together once again with a man they thought would be perfect for her.


part two

Senate Wife

Their paths had crossed. At first randomly, anonymously; later by design. On a train back to Vassar after a visit home to Merrywood in 1948, Jackie wrote of meeting a fellow passenger, a "tall, thin young congressman with very long reddish hair, the son of an ambassador." He had ardently flirted with her.

Three years later, at a dinner party in the home of friends, their mutual attraction glowed. The contrasts in each most intrigued the other. Jack Kennedy's boyish looks belied his rapier intelligence, while his thin, sickly frame and soulful eyes softened the power inherent in his position and wealth.

Her beauty mesmerized; her yielding femininity promised much. But the sparkle of her repartee surprised him, and during an after-dinner game of charades, her competitiveness, so like his own, challenged him pleasurably. He invited her and other friends to the Kennedy retreat in Palm Beach during the winter of 1951.

Still, they drifted apart. Congressman Kennedy immersed himself in his successful campaign to become the junior senator from Massachusetts, and Miss Bouvier accepted John Husted's proposal. Once it was clear that her engagement would not last, Jack Kennedy began a "spasmodic" courtship. "He'd call me from an oyster bar on the Cape with a great clinking of coins," Jackie recalled, "to ask me out to the movies the following Wednesday."

Friends warned Jackie that her new beau possessed a particularly keen interest in the opposite sex. She admitted to her friend Molly Thayer that she was frightened of falling in love with Jack, because she believed he did not want to be married. She "envisioned heartbreak," Thayer said, "but just as swiftly determined that heartbreak would be worth the pain."

The tinge of danger that swathed Jack Kennedy brought Black Jack to mind. "They were very much alike," Jackie said. Finally, she admitted it. "I want to marry him more than anything in the world."

The camera girl photographs the recently sworn-in senator from Massachusetts for her column in April 1953, asking him and Vice President Richard M. Nixon to comment on the Senate pages while two pages commented on them.

Joseph P. Kennedy, eager for his son's career to take him to the highest office in the land, knew that Jacqueline Bouvier would be a political asset to Jack, and urged him to marry her. As Jack began to broach the idea of engagement, Jackie used her column as a sounding board on the issue — and as the means for an occasional tweak to her suitor. Jack reportedly burst into laughter one morning when he picked up the Times-Herald and saw that day's question: "Can you give me any reason why a contented bachelor should ever get married?"

This photograph accompanied the June 24, 1953, newspaper announcement of the thirty-six-year-old Senator John F. Kennedy's engagement to "Newport Socialite" Miss Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, twenty-four.

The senator's resolve to pop the question had been cemented by Jackie's trip to England to cover the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II for the Times-Herald late in May. ARTICLES EXCELLENT BUT YOU ARE MISSED, he wired her. When she returned, she accepted his proposal and he presented her with a diamond-and-emerald ring from Van Cleef & Arpels. "I'm the luckiest girl in the world," she said.

Dressed to the nines for a date, Jack and Jackie pose for one of a series of photos in a penny arcade booth. Jack carried the strip of four pictures in his wallet and showed it to his friend and aide Dave Powers. "I have never met anyone like her," he marveled. "She's different from any girl I know."

Jackie found herself slightly amused by Jack Kennedy. "He's become so vain he has to have a hairdresser come in practically every day," she told her cousin John Davis, "so his hair will always look bushy and fluffy. If we go to a party or some reception or something and nobody recognizes him, or no photographer takes his picture, he sulks afterwards for hours."

What most amused Jackie about her fiancé were his pie-in-the-sky ambitions. "He even told me he intends to be president someday!" she said. Then she roared with laughter at the absurdity of it.

Jack and Jackie apply for their marriage license in September 1953. The impending nuptials generated a great deal of press interest, particularly because of Jackie's glamour and the fact that Jack had recently been the subject of a Saturday Evening Post cover story entitled "The Senate's Gay Young Bachelor."

On September 12, 1953, in Newport's century-old St. Mary's Church, the couple kneel for the high nuptial Mass celebrated by Boston's Archbishop Richard Cushing.


Excerpted from Jackie by James Spada. Copyright © 2000 James Spada. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

James Spada is a writer and photographer who has written internationally best-selling biographies of Barbra Steisand, Bette Davis, Peter Lawford, and Princess Grace of Monaco. He has also compiled pictorial biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Fonda, and Robert Redford, among others. He lives in Natick, Massachusetts.

James Spada is a writer and photographer whose many books have included bestselling biographies of Grace Kelly, Peter Lawford, Bette Davis and Barbra Streisand. Spada has also created pictorial biographies of John and Caroline Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Jackie Onassis, among others. He lives in Natick, Massachusetts.

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