On this day in 1929, President John F. Kennedy’s beautiful and popular wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, is born into a prominent New York family.
Jacqueline, or “Jackie” as she was called, grew up an avid horsewoman and reader. In 1951, after graduating from George Washington University, Jackie toured Europe with her sister. That fall, she returned to the U.S. to begin her first job as the Washington Times-Herald‘s “Inquiring Camera Girl.” Her assignment was to roam the streets of Washington, D.C., asking strangers “man on the street” questions and then snapping their picture for publication. Shortly after her return to the capital, at a dinner party in Georgetown, she met a young, handsome senator from Massachusetts named John F. Kennedy. They dated over the next two years, and in May 1953, Kennedy proposed. Jackie accepted and the couple married on September 12, 1953, at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The Kennedys then settled in Washington, D.C., where Kennedy embarked on a meteoric political career. He served as a senator from Massachusetts from 1953 until he was elected president of the United States in 1961. At the time, he and Jackie were the youngest couple ever to reside in the White House.
The couple presented a public facade of a happy marriage–the general public did not know of Kennedy’s affairs with other women–and Jackie was a dedicated wife and civic-minded first lady. She raised two children in the White House and restored the building to historic specifications. She was a popular celebrity and style icon for women around the world. On a trip to France in 1961, President Kennedy once quipped “I’m the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.”
The most memorable and tragic images of Jackie Kennedy were captured on film on November 22, 1963, immediately after her husband was shot while the couple was riding in an open-car motorcade through the city of Dallas, Texas. A home-movie camera caught a frantic Jackie scrambling over the back seat of the car and onto the trunk, where it appeared that she tried to retrieve a portion of Kennedy’s brain. Later that day, the press photographers snapped Jackie as she stood–shocked, stoic and solemn in a blood-stained suit–next to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson as he took the oath of office en route to Washington on Air Force One.