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
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.
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.
At the White House
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.
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
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.
Jackie in South America
On December 16, 1961, almost one year into her tenure as First Lady of the United States, Jackie is seen arriving at Maiquetia Airport, Caracas, Venezuela, where she graciously accepts a corsage from a young Venezuelan girl. Her elegant elbow-length gloves were a signature look of hers. Here’s another of Jackie’s style signatures… or, more specifically, one of Jackie’s style secrets.
Flawless in India
In March 1962, Jackie traveled to India and Pakistan, accompanied by her younger sister, Lee Radziwill, and the U.S. Ambassador to India. The trip was part business, part leisure. On March 17, she is pictured on a boat ride on Lake Pichola in Udaipur. Lee is seated behind her in a pink suit with pearls. During her time in India, Jackie was introduced to Indira Gandhi, who would become Prime Minister in 1966. Here’s what happened when Jackie met Queen Elizabeth.
The First Lady and the Princess
Jackie and her sister Lee continued to wow in India. Her younger sister Lee had recently married Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill, making her Her Serene Highness Princess Caroline Radziwill, although most of the world just referred to her as Princess Lee Radziwill. This photo of First Lady Jackie and Princess Lee riding an elephant in India was taken exactly a year and half before JFK was shot.
Happy in Hyannis
Here’s an impromptu full-color family photo of Jackie, Jack, John-John, and Caroline, taken by White House photographer Cecil W. Stoughton on August 4, 1962, on the porch of the Kennedy family summer home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Jackie looks elegant in a red and white gingham shift, even with her hair being blown about. She’s not yet pregnant with her fourth child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who was born August 7, 1963, and died two days later of respiratory distress syndrome.
Out for a ride
In this photo, Jackie, whose own mom, Janet Bouvier, had placed her on a horse for the first time when she was only one year old, takes two-year-old John-John riding with her on her horse. Five-year-old Caroline rides alongside on a much smaller creature. The photo was taken on November 19, 1962, by a White House staff member and was distributed in honor of the children’s November birthdays. Learn surprising facts about all of America’s First Ladies.
On the morning of November 22, 1963, President and Mrs. Kennedy were honored by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast held in Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas. In this photo, Jackie, who cannot yet possibly be over the death of her fourth child, beams, nevertheless, as she watches her husband speak to the room. Later that morning, Jackie and John will arrive in Dallas, where the president announced two months earlier he’d been visiting. Less than an hour later, at 12:30 p.m., Kennedy is fatally shot. These were the last words Jackie ever heard her husband say.