There are few people as well known as Jackie Kennedy Onassis (Jacqueline). The wife of slain US president John F. Kennedy, Jackie served as First Lady of the United States from 1960 until her husband’s death in 1963. Several controversies plagued their public marriage, but the American people’s final major, and most striking, memory of Jackie Kennedy Onassis was that of her holding her husband in the presidential limousine, covered in his blood.
By all accounts, Jackie was a person with strong moral convictions. However, some books and tabloids claim that John’s father, Joe, offered Jackie Kennedy Onassis 1 million dollars to stay married to John, fearing divorce would ruin his chances at reelection. The book further claims that Jackie Kennedy Onassis was ready to divorce John F. Kennedy shortly before he was assassinated.
The 2011 series The Kennedys from History (Canada) portrayed that myth in a different way, with Jackie appearing unbendable in her will to resist morally bankrupt offers.
Skip to 1:07
Jackie: You really think everyone can be bought?
Joe Kennedy: I haven’t met the exception.
Jackie: Well, you have now.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ Not So Storybook Wedding
The strikingly handsome and extremely charismatic John F. Kennedy was not a one woman man. He was about sexual conquest. If he met someone he was attracted to, he wanted to have sex with them. All of his personal friends labeled him in many colorful ways, but the unanimous term here was “womanizer.”
John was a womanizer long before he and Jackie got married. By historians and biographers’ accounts, he was fooling around on girlfriends since high school. His was a compulsion he couldn’t resist.
Whether he was a high school student, US Navy officer, US Congressman, or US Senator, John had to satisfy his lust with numerous women. It was not exactly conventional behavior at the time. Rumors about his father, Joseph Kennedy, offering Jackie Kennedy Onassis 1 million USD to stay with him start to become more believable as Kennedy’s character is revealed; a man couldn’t be elected president if he publicly cheated on his wife. Americans would have rejected him.
That was the moral code at the time. Although several US presidents before John had affairs, none of that was public knowledge. From extramarital affairs having the power to ruin a presidency to adultery being the new cool thing, society sure has come a long way. Is that for better or for worse? If you think broken families are healthy, then yeah, it’s better.
A Dynasty Held Together with Incredibly Strong Glue – Jackie
Jackie Kennedy Onassis put up with A LOT of John’s affairs. Don’t kid yourself – she knew about them. A presidential historian even thinks it’s possible that John F. Kennedy and icon Marilyn Monroe – the Marilyn Monroe – had an affair. Not only that, but a book further claims Marilyn, compelled by guilt, called Jackie to tell her about the affair.
As bad as this article is making John look, he wasn’t a black and white character. He had a lot weighing him down, and Jackie knew that and supported him through it all. That’s what a good wife does. She truly loved him, and we hope he loved her, too.
John F. Kennedy Lost Many Siblings
Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., John’s oldest brother, who also served in the navy during WW2, died during the war. The book on the secret mission that Joe Jr. died in, Aphrodite: Desperate Mission, claims that John’s father, Joe Sr., had expected Joe Jr. to become president – not John. It further claims that following his brother’s death, Joe Sr.’s exceptionally high (and typically unrealistic) expectations then shifted to John F. Kennedy.
Many people believe the Joseph Kennedy Sr., former US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, played a huge role in getting John F. Kennedy elected. The 1960 US Presidential Election was one of the closest in United States’ history. Small “swing state” victories, such as in Illinois, played a key role in John F. Kennedy’s victory over Richard Nixon. Some leading theories in the controversy suggest mob involvement, which isn’t impossible given the influence of the players involved and the culture of 1960s’ Chicago.
A mobster chasing girls? Who would have thought. And yeah, we know this is all just theory – but it’s possible – and even probable.
One of John’s sisters, Kathleen, died a few years after WWII – in 1948. She died in a plane crash while travelling in France. John was reportedly very close with both John and Kathleen, and allegedly never got over their loses nor the toll it took on his tightly knit Irish family.
John F. Kennedy had a Serious, Life-Long Injury
Before sunrise on August 2, 1943, John F. Kennedy was in command of a torpedo boat, PT-109, in the Pacific performing nighttime patrols in his capacity as a US Navy Lieutenant, when he spotted a Japanese Destroyer. While turning to attack the destroyer, Kennedy’s boat was rammed by another destroyer and split in half. Two of his crew members were instantly killed.
Kennedy and the remaining 10 crew members regrouped in the water, many injured. Not wanting to surrender, Kennedy and his crew swam several miles to a nearby island, then to another island from there, where they were eventually rescued.
Kennedy was badly injured in the collision, but despite his state, he managed to tow an incapacitated crew member with him – using his teeth and the crew member’s life jacket. John F. Kennedy later received the Purple Heart and Navy and Marine Corps Medal for this action.
He was honorably discharged from the US Navy on March 1st, 1945.
Chronic back problems afflicted John his entire life. He was initially rejected by the US Navy because of it before finally being recruited. The injury he suffered aboard PT-109 aggravated his lifelong chronic illness and lowered his quality of life.
Many White House visitors and staffers have written about Kennedy’s back problems during his presidency. It was reported that he would often lay down on his bare back in the Oval Office and scream in agonizing pain. He took many medications and wore a lower back brace to alleviate his pain – but with varying success.
For the Good of Their Children
Jackie Kennedy Onassis married John F. Kennedy in 1953. From then until his death in 1963, they had four children together. Jackie insisted the children be raised with a strong family influence. Despite being exceptionally privileged, Jackie was sure that the use of nannies and other similar services were limited. She did this to insure that the children were as well-rounded and humble as possible.
In Summer 1963, Jackie gave birth to a son prematurely, Patrick, VIA emergency C-section. He died in a specialized children’s hospital two days later. The death reportedly brought John and Jackie closer as a couple, but left the First Lady deeply depressed.
Earlier, in 1956, the Kennedys’ first child, Arabella, was stillborn. The Kennedys were no stranger to tragedy.
Like Father, Like Son
Joseph Kennedy, John’s dad, was also a serial womanizer. He took it a step further than his son, though. He reportedly used to flaunt his mistresses in front of his wife.
John’s mom, Rose, and Jackie, according to some, used to bond over their husbands’ cheating. They must have had some interesting conversations.
Rose apparently tolerated Joe’s cheating because she believed her family was stronger together. She was a very traditional woman. In many ways, Jackie and Rose were very similar: strong women with men who disgustingly walked all over them.
Although any kind of cheating in a closed relationship is terrible, and it’s hard to compare one kind of terrible to another, Joe flaunting his affairs with no remorse in front of his wife probably makes him the worse of the two Kennedy men.
The Day John F. Kennedy Died
On November 22nd, 1963 in Dallas, Texas, several shots rang out from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The Secret Service had failed; the president was dead.
The Governor of Texas at the time, John Connally, was also seriously injured by one of the bullets that first struck and exited Kennedy.
Kennedy was in Texas dealing with political tension between Governor Connally and several other politicians. The presidential limousine was equipped to travel as a convertible, but President Kennedy insisted that the roof be left open. He enjoyed engaging with crowds and didn’t want to feel cutoff from them – nor did he want the crowds to feel cutoff from him.
Two shots of the multiple shots fired hit President Kennedy: one in his neck and one in the back of his head. As soon as the first shot was fired, Secret Service agents walking along the presidential limousine boarded special standing and sitting areas around the car and the presidential limousine sped off, attempting to escape. It was during this confusion that the second and “fatal” shot to Kennedy’s head was fired.
The presidential limousine raced to Parkland Memorial Hospital. Kennedy was shot shortly after 12:30 PM and was declared dead at the hospital at 1:00 PM. Many of the hospital’s staff testified that Kennedy was dead upon arrival; despite this, they still tried to save him.
One of the most famous images from that infamous day is the image of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, covered in blood, holding her husband dearly in the back of the presidential limousine. It’s a picture that speaks to her undying devotion to him, and one that tears at the heart of anyone who sees it.
For all of Kennedy’s flaws, he got a lot done. Many call him America’s Camelot, suggesting he was almost knightly in his grace and charm – to the level of a fairy tale. A prince charming, fittingly. He gave birth to some of the most famous phrases in history, and potentially saved the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – JOHN F. KENNEDY
Jackie was there for John until the end, and John, although he wasn’t perfect, was a good man who asked what he could do for his country and then did it.
“Jackie” Movie – What Will be in it?
Jackie, the biopic movie coming out on December 2 about Jackie Kennedy Onassis, stars Natalie Portman in the title role. It’s set to both cover Jackie’s life during the White House and after it. Many of the things mentioned in this article are sure to appear in the movie.
It’ll be interesting to see how the film portrays Jackie’s life after the White House. Although the Kennedys stayed in the public image for decades after John died, Jackie sort of faded into the background. There’s definitely a lot to explore during this time of a very interesting woman’s life.
Will I be watching it? Definitely. That’s mostly because I love the Kennedys. Theirs was such a fascinating chapter in American history. Never has a man charmed the country so much before, and his death left the nation feeling as though they had lost a member of the family.
Even if he was a womanizer, he was a president of the people – and he so deeply cared for the citizens of the United States. While John led the country, Jackie led their family. Behind every powerful man is a strong woman, and Jackie redefined what that meant through her grace, dedication, and public service.