John F. Kennedy Jr.
John F. Kennedy Jr.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr.
November 25, 1960
|Died||July 16, 1999 (aged 38)|
(m. 1996-1999, their deaths)
|Parent(s)||John F. Kennedy|
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. (November 25, 1960 – July 16, 1999), often referred to as John-John, JFK Jr., or Jack Kennedy Jr. was an American lawyer, journalist, and magazine publisher. He was the son of former President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and a younger brother of Caroline Kennedy.
From his childhood years living in the White House, he was heavily covered by the public press and media, but later on became a popular social figure in Manhattan. Trained as a lawyer, he worked as a New York assistant district attorney for almost four years. In 1995, John launched George magazine, using his political and celebrity status to publicize it.
Early life[change | change source]
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. was born at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on November 25, 1960, two weeks after his father was elected president. John had lived in the White House during the first three years of his life and remained in the public spotlight as a young adult. His father was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and the state funeral was held three days later on November 25, 1963, on his third birthday. At his mother's prompting, John saluted the flag-draped casket as it was carried out from St. Matthew's Cathedral. Lyndon B. Johnson wrote his first letter as president to John Jr. and told him that he "can always be proud" of his father. Stan Stearns, Chief White House photographer, who took an iconic photograph of the salute. Stearns showed Johnson the image as it was a symbol of what Johnson said in his letter to John Jr. The family continued with their plans for a birthday party to demonstrate that the Kennedy family would go on despite the death of the president. After his father's death in 1963, John, his sister, Caroline and his mother Jacqueline had moved out of the White House and moved her to Georgetown, Washington D.C., but then later moved into a luxury apartment on the Upper East Side in New York City, where he grew up.
Education and Career[change | change source]
John attended private schools in Manhattan such as, Saint David's School, Collegiate School, which he attended from third through tenth grade. He completed his education at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He attended Brown University, where he majored in American history. There, he co-founded a student discussion group that focused on contemporary issues in South Africa such as, gun control and civil rights. John was initiated into Phi Psi, a local social fraternity that had been the Rhode Island Alpha Chapter of national Phi Kappa Psi fraternity until 1978. In 1989, he earned a J.D. degree from the New York University School of Law, he then failed the New York bar exam twice, before passing on his third try in July 1990. From 1984 to 1986, he worked for the New York City Office of Business Development and served as deputy director of the 42nd Street Development Corporation in 1986, conducting negotiations with developers and city agencies. In 1988, he became a summer associate at Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Phillips, a Los Angeles law firm with strong connections to the Democratic Party. From 1989, John headed Reaching Up, a nonprofit group which provided educational and other opportunities for workers who helped people with disabilities.
Relationships and Marriage[change | change source]
While attending Brown University, John had met Sally Munro, who he had dated for six years, and they visited India in 1983. While he was a student at Brown, he also met socialite Brooke Shields, with whom he was later linked. He also dated model Cindy Crawford and Julie Baker, as well as actress Sarah Jessica Parker. John had known actress Daryl Hannah since their two families had vacationed together in St. Maarten in the early 1980's. Also during this time, he dated Christina Haag. They had known each other as children.
Marriage[change | change source]
John married Carolyn Bessette on September 21, 1996. they married in a private ceremony on Cumberland Island, Georgia, where his sister, Caroline, was matron of honor and his cousin Anthony Radziwill was best man.
Piloting[change | change source]
John took flying lessons at the Flight Safety Academy in Vero Beach, Florida. In April 1998, he received his pilot's license, which he had aspired to since he was a child.
The death of his cousin Michael in a skiing accident prompted John to take a hiatus from his piloting lessons for three months. His sister Caroline hoped this would be permanent, but when he resumed, she did little to stop him.
Death[change | change source]
On July 16, 1999, he departed from Essex County Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey, at the controls of his Piper Saratoga light aircraft. He was traveling with his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette to attend the wedding of his cousin Rory Kennedy at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. He had purchased the plane on April 28, 1999, from Air Bound Aviation. Carolyn and Lauren were passengers sitting in the second row of seats. Kennedy had checked in with the control tower at the Martha's Vineyard Airport, but the plane was reported missing after it failed to arrive on schedule. Officials were not hopeful about finding survivors after aircraft debris and a black suitcase belonging to Bessette were recovered from the Atlantic Ocean. President Bill Clinton gave his support to the Kennedy family during the search for the three missing passengers. On July 18, a Coast Guard admiral declared an end to hope that Kennedy, his wife and her sister could be found alive. On July 19, the fragments of Kennedy's plane were found by the ship NOAAS Rude using side-scan sonar. The next day, Navy divers descended into the 62 °F (17 °C) water. The divers found part of the shattered plane strewn over a broad area of seabed 120 feet (37 m) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The search ended in the late afternoon of July 21, when the three bodies were recovered from the ocean floor by Navy divers and taken by motorcade to the county medical examiner's office. The discovery was made from high-resolution images of the ocean bottom. Divers found Carolyn's and Lauren's bodies near the twisted and broken fuselage while Kennedy's body was still strapped into the pilot's seat. Admiral Richard M. Larrabee of the Coast Guard said that all three bodies were "near and under" the fuselage, still strapped in. On the evening of July 21, the bodies were autopsied at the county medical examiner's office; the findings revealed that the crash victims had died upon impact. At the same time, the Kennedy and Bessette families announced their plans for memorial services. On July 21, the three bodies were taken from Hyannis to Duxbury, Massachusetts, where they were cremated in the Mayflower Cemetery crematorium. Ted Kennedy favored a public service for John, while his sister insisted on family privacy. On the morning of July 22, their ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. A memorial service was held for Kennedy and the Bessette Sisters on July 23, 1999, at the Church of St. Thomas More, which was a parish that Kennedy had often attended with his mother and sister. The invitation-only service was attended by hundreds of mourners, including President Bill Clinton, who presented the family with photo albums of John and Carolyn on their visit to the White House from the previous year. Other guests at the church were Ted Kennedy, Arnold Schwarzenegger with Maria Shriver, John Kerry, Lee Radziwill, Maurice Tempelsman and Muhammad Ali.
Legacy[change | change source]
In 2000, Reaching Up, the organization which Kennedy founded in 1989, joined with The City University of New York to establish the John F. Kennedy Jr. Institute. In 2003, the ARCO Forum at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government was renamed to the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum of Public Affairs. An active participant in Forum events, Kennedy had been a member of the Senior Advisory Committee of Harvard's Institute of Politics for fifteen years. John's paternal uncle, Ted, said the renaming symbolically linked Kennedy and his father while his sister, Caroline, stated the renaming represented his love of discussing politics. A drawing of three-year-old JFK Jr. saluting his father's coffin, placed on a memorial wall for him shortly after his death On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy Jr.'s father in 2013, the New York Daily News re-ran the famous photograph of the three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father's coffin during the funeral procession. Photographer Dan Farrell, who took the photo, called it "the saddest thing I've ever seen in my whole life".