John F. Kennedy, Jr.

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John F. Kennedy, Jr.
JFKJr2.jpg
Kennedy greets invited guests at the HBO and Imagine Entertainment premiere held at Kennedy Space Center in 1998.
BornJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr.
(1960-11-25)November 25, 1960
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedJuly 16, 1999(1999-07-16) (aged 38)
Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard
Cause of deathPlane crash
Other namesJFK Jr.
John-John
Alma materBrown University (A.B.)
New York University (J.D.)
OccupationJournalist, lawyer, magazine publisher
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Spouse(s)Carolyn Jeanne Bessette
(m. 1996–1999; their deaths)
ParentsJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy, Sr.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier
Relatives
 
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John F. Kennedy, Jr.
JFKJr2.jpg
Kennedy greets invited guests at the HBO and Imagine Entertainment premiere held at Kennedy Space Center in 1998.
BornJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr.
(1960-11-25)November 25, 1960
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedJuly 16, 1999(1999-07-16) (aged 38)
Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard
Cause of deathPlane crash
Other namesJFK Jr.
John-John
Alma materBrown University (A.B.)
New York University (J.D.)
OccupationJournalist, lawyer, magazine publisher
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Spouse(s)Carolyn Jeanne Bessette
(m. 1996–1999; their deaths)
ParentsJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy, Sr.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier
Relatives

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. (November 25, 1960 – July 16, 1999), often referred to as JFK Jr. or John-John, was an American socialite, journalist, lawyer, and magazine publisher. He was the elder son of U.S. President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, Sr. and First Lady Jacqueline Lee "Jackie" Bouvier, and a nephew of Senators Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy and Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy. He died in a plane crash along with his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy; and her older sister Lauren Bessette, on July 16, 1999.

Early life[edit]

Kennedy with his father, John Sr., at the White House in 1963

First son[edit]

Kennedy was born at Georgetown University Hospital seventeen days after his father was elected to the presidency. He was in the public spotlight up until his death in 1999. Kennedy had two older sisters, Arabella Kennedy (who was stillborn) and attorney Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, as well as a younger brother, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who died two days after his birth in August 1963. For most of the first three years of his life, John-John lived in the White House when his father was president. His nickname "John-John" came from a reporter who misheard JFK calling him ("John" spoken twice in quick succession).[1]

On May 19, 1962, Kennedy's mother took him and his sister to Virginia. There, she was riding in a radio show.[2] John, Sr. once spent two weeks with John, Jr. at Hammersmith Farm while his mother and sister were in Italy. Kennedy played with his father around the shore.[3] John began to take on the habit of saying his name proudly whenever introducing himself.[4] John had his first Mass on October 27, 1963, at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Stephen the Martyr in Middleburg, Virginia. On November 11, he went with his father to Arlington National Cemetery.[5] His father John was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

President Lyndon Johnson sent him a letter, explaining that it would be "many years before you understand fully what a great man your father was." The next day, his mother had him and his sister write a letter to their father, and to express how much they loved him. While Caroline wrote the letter, John marked an "X" on it.[6] The state funeral was held three days later on his third birthday. In a moment that became an emotional and iconic image of the 1960s, Kennedy stepped forward and rendered a final salute as the flag-draped casket was carried out from St. Matthew's Cathedral.[7] The image was captured by photographer Stan Stearns.[8]

Post–White House years[edit]

Following his father's assassination, Kennedy grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City and his mother, Jackie, married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, whom she had met in the early 1950s.[9] Their marriage lasted until Onassis' death in 1975. He and Onassis would often go on trips together, as opposed to his relationship with Caroline.[10]

John fell into smoldering coals of a fire built for a wiener roast, and was pulled out by Secret Service agent John Walsh. John suffered first and second degree burns on his right arm and hand, afterwards the Secret Service was granted further protection of the Kennedy family until 1969 by the House Judiciary Committee.[11] On October 17, 1968, John, his sister and mother went through a number of people outside their home that had heard of the wedding between his mother and Aristotle and just two days later on October 19, he burst into tears when news reporters and photographers charged at him as he emerged from sleeping on Christina.[12] He returned to America, along with Caroline and his aunts Patricia Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith, on October 23.[13]

John was at St. Francis Xavier on November 22, 1969, the sixth anniversary of his father's death, and assisted the priest at the memorial services. His eleven year old friend Martin Luther King III accompanied him, his sister and mother back to Skorpios on December 7, 1969.[14] On February 3, 1971, John returned to the White House for the first time since he was three years old with his sister and mother, during the Richard Nixon administration. Given a tour by his daughters Julie and Tricia, he was shown his old bedroom and shown the desk his father had once let him play under by the President.[15]

John and his cousin Anthony Radziwill were together for two weeks at Drake's Island Adventure Center in August 1971, where the two were in housed in a dormitory with four other boys. Included in a group of sixty-five boys, he rock climbed and went camping, which his mother decided to emulate for every summer afterward.[16] On July 15, 1972, an announcement was made that authorities had made arrests of two gangs that had plotted to kidnap Kennedy.[17] On November 22, 1973, the tenth anniversary of his father's death, John, his sister and mother came to a Mass at St. Bridget Roman Catholic Church in Peapack. The three sent a bouquet of baby's breath, heather and blue cornflowers to his grave.[18] By March 1975, John and his family returned to Paris. By early next month, John was away again. He went with his cousins Timothy, Maria and Bobby and their parents Eunice and Bobby Shriver on a tour of Russia, and previously had read books about the country with his mother.[19]

At only fifteen years of age, John was caught driving without a license by a Hyannis Port policeman.[20] On November 25, 1976, his sixteenth birthday, Secret Service protection ended after a further extension.[11]

Education[edit]

Kennedy attended the Collegiate School in New York City from third through tenth grades, and later graduated from Phillips Academy (also known as Andover).

Brown University[edit]

Prior to his registering at Brown University, John's mother took him to Africa. With the limited landmarks there and only partial visibility, John was appointed leader when his group lost their way and they went through the undergrowth with no food or water. John's main worry at the time was "how concerned his family would be if his experience ever made newspaper headlines". The group was found two days after having encountered a rhinoceros, and John won points from his course director for his leadership.[21] While signing up for enrollment to Brown University and standing in line on September 10, 1979, he was given unwanted attention by reporters.[22] John kept a low profile, but when he was approached by others, he tried to see if they were interested in him as a person or just trying to talk to him because of his name.[23] On October 20, the Kennedy Library was dedicated. On that day, John made his first major speech and recited the Stephen Spender's poem "I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great".[24] John took interest in majoring in American history by September 1979, and relayed the thought after being confronted by a number of reporters while waiting in the registration line on the Providence campus.[25] Kennedy graduated from Brown University in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in history.

University of Delhi[edit]

After Brown, Kennedy took a working break, traveling to India and spending some time at the University of Delhi, where he met Mother Teresa. He also worked with some of the Kennedy special interest projects, including the East Harlem School at Exodus House and Reaching Up. In summer of 1981, he worked at Terry Sanford's Center for Democratic Policy and was paid $100. He gave a short press conference at his uncle Ted's suggestion, and admitted to the press that he was teaching himself to play guitar.[26] For the next summer, in 1982, he spent six weeks with his cousin Timothy Shriver teaching English to students with low-income families at the University of Connecticut.[27]

1980s[edit]

From 1984 to 1986, he worked for the New York City Office of Business Development. He served as deputy director of the 42nd Street Development Corporation in 1986. He also did a bit of acting during that time, an activity which had been one of his passions; he appeared in many plays while at Brown. He expressed interest in acting as a career, but his mother strongly disapproved of it as a suitable profession.[28]

In 1989, Kennedy earned a J.D. degree from the New York University School of Law.[29] He failed the New York bar exam twice before passing on the third try in July 1990.[30] Kennedy then served as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office for four years.[31]

Associations[edit]

While an undergraduate at Brown, Kennedy was initiated into Phi Psi, a local social fraternity which had been the Rhode Island Alpha Chapter of national Phi Kappa Psi fraternity until 1978.[32]

Public career[edit]

Several times, Kennedy was asked publicly if he was interested in following in his father's footsteps and choosing politics as a career; he would always decline for the time being, but he would not rule it out for the future.[33] In 1995, Kennedy and New York public relations magnate Michael J. Berman founded George, a glossy politics-as-lifestyle monthly which sometimes took editorial aim even at members of his own family. Kennedy controlled 50 percent of the company's shares.[34] After Kennedy's death, the magazine was bought out by Hachette Filipacchi Magazines,[35] his partners in George, and continued for over a year. With falling advertising sales,[35] the magazine folded in early 2001.[36] Before his death, however, Kennedy had conceded that he "might have to wind it up by the end of the year".[37]

Personal life[edit]

Kennedy's mother Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died on May 19, 1994. He attended her funeral, and also paid tribute to his father and visited his uncle Bobby's grave before departing with his sister.[38] Kennedy dated Daryl Hannah for five and a half years, but broke up with her shortly after his mother's death.[39] Kennedy married Carolyn Jeanne Bessette, the youngest daughter of William J. Bessette and Ann Messina Freeman, on September 21, 1996, on Cumberland Island, Georgia.[40] His older sister Caroline acted as the matron of honor and his cousin Anthony Stanislas Radziwill was his best man.[41] He and Carolyn started living together in 1995.[42]

Death[edit]

On July 16, 1999, Kennedy, his wife Carolyn, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette were reported missing when the Piper Saratoga II HP he was piloting failed to arrive at its planned destination after Kennedy checked in with the FAA tower at the Martha's Vineyard Airport in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. The trio were en route to attend the wedding of Kennedy's cousin, Rory Kennedy. A search commenced more than 15 hours later to locate them, finally ending in the late afternoon hours of July 21, when the three bodies were recovered from the ocean floor by Navy divers. The bodies were taken by motorcade to the county medical examiner's office.[43] The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the plane had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Martha's Vineyard, the probable cause being pilot error: "Kennedy's failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water at night, which was a result of spatial disorientation."[44] Kennedy was not qualified to fly a plane by "instruments only", though the crash occurred in conditions not legally requiring such qualification. Other pilots flying similar routes reported no visual horizon due to haze.[45] In the evening of July 21, autopsies at the county medical examiner's office revealed that the crash victims had died upon impact. At the same time, the Kennedy and Bessette families announced their plans for memorial services.[43] In the late hours of July 21, the three bodies were taken from Hyannis to Duxbury, where they were cremated in the Mayflower Cemetery crematorium.[46] On the morning of July 22, their ashes were scattered from the Navy destroyer USS Briscoe off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.[47]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kennedy Year in Review CNN.
  2. ^ Leigh, p. 53.
  3. ^ Leigh, pp. 55-56.
  4. ^ Leigh, p. 63.
  5. ^ Leigh, p. 84.
  6. ^ Leigh, pp. 89-92.
  7. ^ Lucas, Dean (2007-07-22). "Famous Pictures Magazine – JFK Jr salutes JFK". Famous Pictures Magazine. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  8. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt (March 5, 2012). "Stan Stearns, 76; Captured a Famous Salute". The New York Times. p. B10. 
  9. ^ As We Remember Her: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the Words of Her Family, by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
  10. ^ Caroline Kennedy A&E biography
  11. ^ a b Leigh, p. 137.
  12. ^ Leigh, pp. 154-156.
  13. ^ Leigh, p. 159.
  14. ^ Leigh, p. 176.
  15. ^ Leigh, p. 182.
  16. ^ Leigh, Wendy (1999). Prince Charming: The John F. Kennedy, Jr. Story. Sourcebooks. p. 183. ISBN 978-0451178381. 
  17. ^ Leigh, p. 188.
  18. ^ Leigh, p. 191.
  19. ^ Leigh, p. 200.
  20. ^ Leigh, p. 207.
  21. ^ Leigh, p. 235.
  22. ^ Leigh, p. 236.
  23. ^ Leigh, p. 239.
  24. ^ Leigh, p. 251.
  25. ^ Leigh, pp. 236-237.
  26. ^ Leigh, p. 259.
  27. ^ Leigh, p. 265.
  28. ^ A&E Biography
  29. ^ Heymann, Clemens David (2007). American Legacy: The Story of John & Caroline Kennedy. Simon and Schuster. p. 323. ISBN 0-7434-9738-4. 
  30. ^ Blow, Richard; Bradley, Richard (2002). American Son: A Portrait of John F. Kennedy, Jr. Macmillan. p. 17. ISBN 0-312-98899-0. 
  31. ^ Spoto, Donald (2000). Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life. Macmillan. p. 330. ISBN 0-312-97707-7. 
  32. ^ Robert T. Littell, The Men We Became: My Friendship With John F. Kennedy, Jr. (St. Martin’s Press 2004), passim.
  33. ^ A&E Biography
  34. ^ A&E Biography
  35. ^ a b Bercovici, Jeff (2001). "Hachette delivers death ax to George". Media Life Magazine.
  36. ^ "Reliable Sources: 'George' Folds". CNN. January 6, 2001.
  37. ^ Littell, Robert T. (2004). The Men We Became: My Friendship With John F. Kennedy, Jr. Macmillan. p. 175. ISBN 0-312-32476-6. 
  38. ^ Leigh, p. 351.
  39. ^ Leigh, p. 352.
  40. ^ Landau, Elaine (2000). John F. Kennedy, Jr. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 117. ISBN 0-7613-1857-7. 
  41. ^ Heymann, Clemens David (2007). American Legacy: The Story of John & Caroline Kennedy. Simon and Schuster. p. 458. ISBN 0-7434-9738-4. 
  42. ^ Leigh, p. 361.
  43. ^ a b "Crash and Search Time Line". The Washington Post. July 22, 1999. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  44. ^ "NTSB report NYC99MA178". 
  45. ^ "NTSB report NYC99MA178 Full Narative". 
  46. ^ Maxwell, Paula (July 28, 1999). "Kennedy cremated in Duxbury". Duxbury Clipper (Duxbury. MA). Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  47. ^ Gellman, Barton; Ferdinand, Pamela (1999-07-23). "Kennedy, Bessettes Given Shipboard Rites". Washington Post. pp. A1. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Harry Hamlin
People magazine's
Sexiest Man Alive

1988
Succeeded by
Sean Connery