16 Rarely Seen Photos of Jackie Kennedy
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis would have turned 90 at the end of July. As President John F. Kennedy’s first lady, the elegantly dressed, exquisitely classy, wide-eyed, raven-haired beauty was the apple of our nation’s eye, and our love affair with this paradoxically private-public figure shows no sign of ending any time soon.
Jackie and her dog
David Berne/JFK Presidential Library and Museum
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was six years old when she posed for this 1935 photo with the dog who was the first of her many beloved canine companions. An animal lover from the beginning, the future 35th First Lady of the United States became an accomplished rider of horses, winning several national championships by the time she turned 11. Born in posh Southampton, New York, Jackie grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where she attended Miss Chapin’s School, took ballet and French lessons, developed a lifelong appreciation for literature, and was named 1948’s Debutante of the Year. Don’t miss these rarely seen photos of John and Jackie through the years.
Jacqueline and Janet Lee Bouvier compete together
Speaking of an accomplished rider of horses: at six years old, Jackie and her mother Janet competed together in the East Hampton Horse Show on Long Island in the family class. They won third prize. Her pony’s name was Buddy, and the pair competed in a number of shows together, largely in Southhampton.
Still single Jackie
This photo was taken just before Jackie and John were engaged. The engagement was announced on June 24, 1953 by her mother and step-father, and it congratulated the “junior senator from Massachusetts on his fiance.” The rest of the notice focused on Jackie, finding the 23-year-old a “wide-eyed, freckle-faced beauty” and detailing her accomplishments. The future President of the United States was only mentioned once.
A quiet moment for the newlyweds
Jackie and John F. Kennedy were married on the morning of September 12, 1953, in a Catholic Church in the bucolic countryside of Newport, Rhode Island. Pope Pius XII gave a special blessing. This candid wedding photo was taken by renowned fashion- and informal portrait-photographer Toni Frisell at Hammersmith Farm, which was, at the time, the ancestral family home of Jackie’s stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss, and the site of the wedding reception. Jackie, herself, was a professional photographer, working as the “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington Times-Herald, which involved snapping photos of New Yorkers she encountered while wandering the city and interviewing them regarding the day’s news and notes.
The happy wedding party
Jackie’s bridesmaids included John Kennedy’s sister, Jean, and Ethel Kennedy, the wife of John’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy. They’re pictured here, along with Jack and Bobby’s “baby” brother, Edward “Ted” Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy’s sisters-in-law liked to tease Jackie about her silver-spoon upbringing, referring to her as “the Deb,” but the lighthearted exuberance of the newly merged family in this candid shot by Frissell is unmistakable.
At the time of this 1957 Frissell photo, Jackie was seven months pregnant. Jackie and John’s first pregnancy had ended in stillbirth one year earlier (a daughter), and Frissell seems to have captured Jackie in a moment of quiet, if enigmatic, reflection. Happily, two months later, Jackie gave birth to Caroline, now the only still-living member of the John F. Kennedy family. Learn the truth behind this myth about Kennedy’s campaign that everyone still believes.
First official photo of FLOTUS
Jackie joined John on the campaign trail in 1960 until she learned she was pregnant again, after which she remained home, conducting interviews and writing the syndicated newspaper column, “Campaign Wife.” Two weeks after John was elected president (following a close race against Richard Nixon), John F. Kennedy, Jr. was born. This photo is the first official White House photograph of Jackie as First Lady, and the warmth that comes across may be a function of the then-31-year-old’s new motherhood. It’s been said Jackie’s first priority as FLOTUS was to be a good wife and mother. Learn her timeless style tips that you can still pull off today.
At the White House
Abbie Rowe/JFK Presidential Library and Museum
In this candid photo, taken at the South Entrance to the White House a mere two weeks after President Kennedy’s inauguration, Jackie, holding her newborn, John-John, smiles brightly and is the only member of the family looking directly into the camera. Perhaps she’s quietly planning her transformation of the White House from “that dreary Maison Blanche,” as she referred to it, into a museum intended to reflect our country’s art history. A year later, the renovation was nearly complete when Jackie conducted a Valentine’s Day televised tour of the Executive Mansion for CBS. Fifty-six million people watched.
Cecil Stoughton/White House Photographs/JFK Presidential Library and Museum
On May 5, 1961, NASA Astronaut, Alan Shepard became the first American to reach space. He wasn’t the first human in space, and it was a blow to our nation’s collective ego that the Soviets had narrowly beaten us in “Round One’ of the “Cold War Space Race,” when they launched Yuri Gagarin into space the month prior. But that didn’t stop the President and Mrs. Kennedy, along with Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Admiral Arleigh Burke from watching eagerly along with the rest of the country.
The First Family on vacation
Robert Knudson/White House Photographs/JFK Presidential Library and Museum
In this informal shot, the young Kennedy family sits on the stairs of Hammersmith Farm. The date is September 29, 1961, and the Kennedy’s had come by plane three days earlier, as they often did during the summer. But it wasn’t all fun for the president. During that stay, he got some important business accomplished, naming John McCone head of the CIA. Earlier that month he had signed the Peace Corps Act into law.