On this day in history, May 19, 1994, Jackie (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis passed away at her apartment in New York City after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was 64.
The enigmatic and glamorous first lady — a worldwide style icon — was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, New York, to socialite mother Janet Lee and stockbroker father John “Black Jack” Bouvier, according to Ancestralfindings.com.
Following a privileged childhood spent in New York City as well as in East Hampton, New York; Virginia; and Newport, Rhode Island, Bouvier enrolled in Vassar College in 1947. She studied abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris during her junior year, according to History.com.
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She excelled as an equestrian at a young age and was also accomplished at ballet dancing. She was fluent in several languages, Ancestralfindings.com also noted.
Bouvier graduated from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 1951, according to History.com.
The summer after graduation, Bouvier was working as a photographer at the Washington Times-Herald when she was introduced to John F. Kennedy at a friend’s party in D.C.
At the time, Kennedy was a young congressman from Massachusetts.
“They didn’t begin a romantic relationship until almost a year later and were engaged by June 1953,” History.com indicates.
By this point, Kennedy had won election to the U.S. Senate.
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They couple were married on Sept. 12, 1953, in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Newport, Rhode Island.
Then-Sen. Kennedy suffered crippling back pain from football and wartime injuries and began having corrective surgeries, according to the JFK Library and Museum’s website.
The book, “Profiles in Courage,” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957.
While he recovered from surgery, Mrs. Kennedy encouraged her husband to write a book about U.S. senators who risked their careers to stand up for the issues they supported.
The book, “Profiles in Courage,” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957. That same year, the couple’s first child, Caroline, was born, the library also notes.
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In January 1960, Sen. Kennedy announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency. During the campaign, Jackie Kennedy became pregnant with their second child. Doctors advised her to remain at home.
While at home, Mrs. Kennedy “wrote hundreds of campaign letters, taped TV commercials, gave interviews and wrote a weekly newspaper column, ‘Campaign Wife,’ which was distributed across the country,” according to the library’s website.
On Nov. 8, 1960, Kennedy beat Republican Richard M. Nixon in a tight race to win the presidency.
“Two and-a-half weeks later, Mrs. Kennedy gave birth to their second child, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr.,” the site says.
During their tenure at the White House, President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy “brought a new, youthful spirit to the White House, which they believed should be a place to celebrate American history, culture and achievement,” says the library’s website.
Mrs. Kennedy also accompanied the president on official travel, representing the United States abroad.
“Once in a great while, an individual will capture the imagination of people all over the world. You have done this.”
Clark Clifford, a respected lawyer and adviser to President Kennedy, was so pleased with Mrs. Kennedy after her trip to Paris, Vienna and Greece that he sent her a note of appreciation, according to the JFK Library.
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It read, “Once in a great while, an individual will capture the imagination of people all over the world. You have done this; and what is more important, through your graciousness and tact, you have transformed this rare accomplishment into an incredibly important asset to this nation.”
As first lady, Mrs. Kennedy also traveled to Italy, India and Pakistan.
“Her interest in other cultures and her ability to speak several foreign languages, including French, Spanish and Italian, brought her good will and admiration around the world,” said the JFK Library.
On Aug. 7, 1963, Mrs. Kennedy gave birth to the couple’s third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. The infant suffered from a lung ailment and was rushed to the Children’s Hospital in Boston, where he died two days later.
While still recovering from the loss, a second tragedy befell the first lady — and the nation.
The word “Camelot” is a unique part of the Kennedy legacy.
On Nov. 22, 1963, President and Mrs. Kennedy were in Dallas, Texas, as the president prepared for his next campaign by visiting states important to his reelection.
“As their car drove slowly past cheering crowds, shots rang out. President Kennedy was killed and Jacqueline Kennedy became a widow at age 34,” the JFK Library notes.
“As it was broadcast around the world, millions of people shared her grief and admired her courage and dignity,” says the same site.
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The word “Camelot” is a unique part of the Kennedy legacy.
The Kennedys “also created the perception that the Kennedy presidency was like the era of Camelot, a mythical time associated with a sense of unfulfilled promise,” says the National Parks Service website.
Mrs. Kennedy had a deep understanding of both her husband and his ideals, according to the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy.
After her husband’s death, in an interview with LIFE Magazine given shortly before leaving the White House, Jackie Kennedy said her husband had always looked at history with an idealized view, notes that site.
“Don’t let it be forgot that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot,” she said, quoting from her late husband’s favorite musical, “Camelot,” said People.com.
She also said, “There will be great presidents again, but there will never be another Camelot.”
“In the 1970s she played an important role in saving Grand Central Terminal in New York City.”
Following President Kennedy’s death, Mrs. Kennedy started work on the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as a memorial to her husband, the library notes.
In 1968, Mrs. Kennedy married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
They were married until his death in 1975, says Brittanica.com.
Following her second husband’s death, Jackie Kennedy worked as a consulting editor at Viking Press and later as an associate and senior editor at Doubleday, that site notes.
“She also maintained her interest in the arts and in landmark preservation and notably, in the 1970s she played an important role in saving Grand Central Terminal in New York City,” Britannica adds.
“And now she is in God’s hands.”
Jackie Kennedy continued her work in book publishing until her death on May 19, 1994, from cancer.
Standing under the entrance canopy outside her apartment in New York City, her son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., spoke to the press gathered outside the building.
“As you probably know, last night around 10:15 my mother passed on,” he said, in part, as UPI reported at the time.
‘She was surrounded by her family, her friends and her books — the people and things that she loved. She did it in her own way and on her own terms. We all feel very lucky for that.”
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He added, “And now she is in God’s hands.”
Tragically, the son Jackie Kennedy loved so much was killed in a plane crash just five years later, on July 16, 1999, along with his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was laid to rest beside President Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, according to the JFK Library and Museum website.