She might be the most well-known First Lady in American history but Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis continues to be a mysterious figure. The widow of John F. Kennedy was a public persona who somehow managed to live a truly private life despite her fame. So what do we truly know about Jackie O?
The former First Lady caught the public eye when JFK became the 35th President of the United States in 1961. Although her first husband was only in office for a short time, Jackie continued to enthrall the public up until her death in 1994. Here are some interesting facts about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that you probably didn’t know.
1. Jackie is the first FLOTUS to be born in the 20th century
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born in Southampton, New York on July 28, 1929, to John and Janet Bouvier. She spent most of her childhood in Manhattan and Long Island.
2. Her first claim to fame was a double victory in a horseback riding championship
At the age of 11, Jackie made it on The New York Times for winning two contests in the same show. The young equestrienne’s love for horseback riding became a lifelong passion.
3. Jackie studied French in college and spoke multiple languages
She attended Vassar College and spent her junior year in Paris. Jackie then transferred to George Washington University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature. A gifted linguist, she filmed short speeches in French, Spanish, and Italian to earn support for JFK during his presidential campaign.
4. She was related to Polish royalty
Jackie’s younger sister Lee Radziwill was once married to Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill of Poland. The marriage lasted for 15 years before they divorced in 1974.
5. Jackie interviewed Richard Nixon before he became JFK’s presidential opponent
After college, she wrote a column for Washington Times-Herald where she took photos of people and asked them questions about life. Interestingly, one of her subjects was Richard Nixon, who would later go up against her husband in the 1961 presidential election.
6. She almost didn’t marry JFK
At the age of 22, Jackie became engaged to a man named John Husted, a Wall Street banker. However, she broke off their engagement since she was unsure about becoming a housewife. Jackie then met Kennedy at a dinner party just two months after the breakup.
7. The White House restoration was her idea
When she became the First Lady, Jackie immediately set out to restore the White House. She made sure that all public rooms should be reserved and established the White House as a museum. Jackie also had a clever addition to the White House for the sake of her children.
8. Jackie opened a school in the White House to keep her children safe
The former First Lady went out of her way to keep her children Caroline and John away from the limelight. To do so, she converted the White House’s third-floor solarium into a kindergarten which was also attended by children from the Kennedy administration staff.
9. She won an Emmy for the televised tour of the White House
Millions of viewers tuned in to CBS News as Jackie took Charles Collingwood on a tour of the White House. Not surprisingly, the former First Lady nabbed the special Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Trustees Award at the 1962 Emmys for her efforts.
10. Jackie saved Grand Central Terminal from demolition
In 1975, she formed the Committee to Save Grand Central Station in an effort to keep the historic landmark from being demolished. Jackie even went to Washington DC to face the Supreme Court, who ruled in her favor.
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