An international object of fascination and one of the world’s most famous women, Jacqueline Kennedy was poised and glamorous but also a private and shy person. Raised in the wealthy Bouvier and Auchincloss families, she attended finishing school and Vassar College, became fluent in French and Spanish, loved to read, paint and ride horses. She was only 23, working as an inquiring photographer for a Washington newspaper and taking in the capital night life of restaurants and parties, when she met John F. Kennedy, the young bachelor Congressman from Massachusetts, at a dinner party in 1952. Their marriage in 1953 created a union of powerful and wealthy Roman Catholic families. When they entered the White House in 1960, their daughter Caroline Bouvier Kennedy was three and John F. Kennedy Jr. only a few weeks old. (A third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, lived 39 hours and died four months before President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.)
“She cared so deeply about her family…her husband and her children,” says Katie Holmes. “But at the same time, she had to balance being the First Lady, a wife…and raising a family. That is something we explore in this project.”
Jackie busily transformed her new home into a place of elegance and culture, restoring it to its original glory. She threw stylish and memorable parties whose guest lists went beyond heads of state to Nobel laureates, distinguished intellectuals, artists and musicians. The media extensively covered her travels with the President across America and Europe and besieged her with requests for interviews: about her children, her fashion choices and her tastes in art, music and literature. The media images that millions remember the most are those taken in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963: her dive across the limousine as her husband is struck by bullets; her pink suit stained with his blood, her shocked face, the speeding motorcade, and the anguish later at Parkland Memorial Hospital. During the funeral, the black-veiled widow, solemn, dignified and self-controlled, reminded 3-year-old John Jr. to salute his father’s casket.
Jackie moved to New York and five years later married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. After his death in 1975, she worked as a book editor at Doubleday publishing in New York, a job she adored because of the contact that gave her with some of America’s best writers. She stayed fit by jogging in Central Park. She died of cancer at her apartment at the age of 64.