Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

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I think my biggest achievement is that, after going through a rather difficult time, I consider myself comparatively sane.

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (28 July 192919 May 1994) was the wife of the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and served as First Lady during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. She was later married to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis from 1968 until his death in 1975. In later years she had a successful career as a book editor, and is remembered for her style and elegance.

Quotes[edit]

I should have guessed that it would be too much to ask to grow old with and see our children grow up together. So now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man.
Minimum information given with maximum politeness.
We should all do something to right the wrongs that we see and not just complain about them.
One man can make a difference and every man should try.
  • A newspaper reported I spend $30,000 a year buying Paris clothes and that women hate me for it. I couldn’t spend that much unless I wore sable underwear.
    • The New York Times (15 September 1960)
  • He didn’t even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights... it had to be some silly little Communist.
    • To her mother, Janet Auchincloss (22 November 1963); quoted in The Death of a President (1922) by William Manchester
  • Dear God, please take care of your servant John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
    • Inscription for cards at her husband’s funeral (25 November 1963)
  • Now, I think that I should have known that he was magic all along. I did know it — but I should have guessed that it would be too much to ask to grow old with and see our children grow up together. So now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man.
    • Quoted from article written by Jacqueline Kennedy for Look Magazine (17 November 1964) JFK memorial issue.
  • One man can make a difference and every man should try.
    • Written on a card for an exhibit which travelled around the US when the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston was first opening (1979), quoted in Respectfully Quoted : A Dictionary of Quotations (1989) edited by Suzy Platt
  • A camel makes an elephant feel like a jet plane.
    • On a 1962 visit to India quoted in A Hero for Our Time (1983) by Ralph G Martin
  • We know you understand that even though people may be well known they still hold in their hearts the emotions of a simple person for the moments that are the most important of those we know on earth — birth, marriage, death. We wish our wedding to be a private moment in the little chapel among the cypresses of Skorpios.
    • Press Statement issued the day before her marriage to Aristotle Onassis, NY Times (20 October 1968)
  • Whenever I was upset by something in the papers, [Jack] always told me to be more tolerant, like a horse flicking away flies in the summer.
    • Quoted in A Hero for Our Time (1983) by Ralph G Martin
  • Minimum information given with maximum politeness.
    • Instructions to press secretary Pamela Turnure; Quoted in A Hero for Our Time (1983) by Ralph G Martin; sometimes rendered : "I want minimum information given with maximum politeness."
  • It looks like it’s been furnished by discount stores.
    • On the White House; Quoted in A Hero for Our Time (1983) by Ralph G Martin
  • The one thing I do not want to be called is First Lady. It sounds like a saddle horse.
    • Advice to her secretary; quoted inThe Kennedys (1984) by Peter Collier and David Horowitz
  • You are about to have your first experience with a Greek lunch. I will kill you if you pretend to like it.
    • Welcoming decorator Billy Baldwin to the island of Skorpios; quoted in Ari (1986) by Peter Evans
  • It was a very spasmodic courtship, conducted mainly at long distance with a great clanking of coins in dozens of phone booths.
    • On her romance with John F. Kennedy quoted inThe Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys (1987) by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
  • What is sad for women of my generation is that they weren’t supposed to work if they had families. What were they to do when the children were grown — watch raindrops coming down the windowpane?
    • Quoted in The Last Word (1992) edited by Carolyn Warner
  • One of the things I like about publishing is that you don't promote the editor — you promote the book and the author.
    • Interview with Publishers Weekly (19 April 1993)
  • To think that I very nearly didn’t go... What if I’d been here — out riding in Virginia or somewhere — Thank God I went with him.
    • Quoted in The Unknown Wisdom of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1994) edited by Bill Adler
  • The children have been a wonderful gift to me, and I’m thankful to have once again seen our world through their eyes. They restore my faith in the family’s future.
    • The Unknown Wisdom of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1994) edited by Bill Adler
  • One must not let oneself be overwhelmed by sadness.
    • Quoted in The Unknown Wisdom of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1994) edited by Bill Adler
  • The trouble with me is that I’m an outsider. And that’s a very hard thing to be in American life.
    • Quoted in The Unknown Wisdom of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1994) edited by Bill Adler
  • The river of sludge will go on and on. It isn’t about me.
    • On tabloid stories, as quoted in Newsweek (30 August 1994)
  • Aristotle Onassis rescued me at a moment when my life was engulfed with shadows. He brought me into a world where one could find both happiness and love. We lived through many beautiful experiences together which cannot be forgotten, and for which I will be eternally grateful.
    • Statement at the funeral of Aristotle Onassis, as quoted in Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis : A Life (2000) by Donald Spoto
  • I think my biggest achievement is that, after going through a rather difficult time, I consider myself comparatively sane.
    • The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis : A Portrait in Her Own Words (2004) by Bill Adler
  • We should all do something to right the wrongs that we see and not just complain about them.
    • The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis : A Portrait in Her Own Words (2004) by Bill Adler

The "Camelot" interview (29 November 1963)[edit]

The sun was so strong in our faces. I couldn't put on sunglasses... Then we saw this tunnel ahead, I thought it would be cool in the tunnel...
They were gunning the motorcycles. There were these little backfires. There was one noise like that. I thought it was a backfire...
The song he loved most came at the very end of this record, the last side of Camelot, sad Camelot... "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."
One week after the assasination of her husband Mrs. Kennedy summoned Theodore H. White to Hyannisport for an interview. Some of the statements she made appeared in that week's edition of LIFE magazine (6 December 1963), and more of it appeared many years later in his memoir In Search of History: A Personal Adventure (1978). In 1969 White donated his notes of the interview to the Kennedy Library, to be made fully public only after Mrs. Kennedy's death. They were released on 26 May 1995.
  • There'd been the biggest motorcade from the airport. Hot. Wild. Like Mexico and Vienna. The sun was so strong in our faces. I couldn't put on sunglasses... Then we saw this tunnel ahead, I thought it would be cool in the tunnel, I thought if you were on the left the sun wouldn't get into your eyes...
  • They were gunning the motorcycles. There were these little backfires. There was one noise like that. I thought it was a backfire. Then next I saw Connally grabbing his arms and saying "no, no, no, no, no," with his fist beating. Then Jack turned and I turned. All I remember was a blue-gray building up ahead. Then Jack turned back so neatly, his last expression was so neat... you know that wonderful expression he had when they'd ask him a question about one of the ten million pieces they have in a rocket, just before he'd answer. He looked puzzled, then he slumped forward. He was holding out his hand ... I could see a piece of his skull coming off. It was flesh-colored, not white — he was holding out his hand ... I can see this perfectly clean piece detaching itself from his head. Then he slumped in my lap, his blood and his brains were in my lap ... Then Clint Hill [the Secret Service man], he loved us, he made my life so easy, he was the first man in the car ... We all lay down in the car ... And I kept saying, Jack, Jack, Jack, and someone was yelling "he's dead, he's dead." All the ride to the hospital I kept bending over him, saying "Jack, Jack, can you hear me, I love you, Jack."
  • His head was so beautiful. I tried to hold the top of his head down, maybe I could keep it in... but I knew he was dead.
  • When they carried Jack in, Hill threw his coat over Jack's head, and I held his head to throw the coat over it. It wasn't repulsive to me for one moment — nothing was repulsive to me —
  • These big Texas interns kept saying, "Mrs. Kennedy, you come with us", they wanted to take me away from him... But I said "I'm not leaving"... Dave Powers came running to me at the hospital, crying when he saw me, my legs, my hands were covered with his brains... When Dave saw this he burst out weeping... I said "I'm not going to leave him, I'm not going to leave him"... I was standing outside in this narrow corridor... ten minutes later this big policeman brought me a chair.
  • I said, "I want to be in there when he dies"... so Burkeley forced his way into the operating room and said, "It's her prerogative, it's her prerogative..." and I got in, there were about forty people there. Dr. Perry wanted to get me out. But I said "It's my husband, his blood, his brains are all over me."
  • I held his hand all the time the priest was saying extreme unction.
  • The ring was all blood-stained... so I put the ring on Jack's finger... and then I kissed his hand...
  • Everytime we got off the plane that day, three times they gave me the yellow roses of Texas. But in Dallas they gave me red roses. I thought how funny, red roses — so all the seat was full of blood and red roses.
  • But there's this one thing I wanted to say... I'm so ashamed of myself... When Jack quoted something, it was usually classical... no, don't protect me now... I kept saying to Bobby, I've got to talk to somebody, I've got to see somebody, I want to say this one thing, it's been almost an obsession with me, all I keep thinking of is this line from a musical comedy, it's been an obsession with me... At night before we'd go to sleep... we had an old Victrola. Jack liked to play some records. His back hurt, the floor was so cold. I'd get out of bed at night and play it for him, when it was so cold getting out of bed... on a Victrola ten years old — and the song he loved most came at the very end of this record, the last side of Camelot, sad Camelot... "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."...There'll never be another Camelot again...
  • Do you know what I think of history? ... For a while I thought history was something that bitter old men wrote. But Jack loved history so... No one'll ever know everything about Jack. But ... history made Jack what he was ... this lonely, little sick boy ... scarlet fever ... this little boy sick so much of the time, reading in bed, reading history ... reading the Knights of the Round Table ... and he just liked that last song.
    Then I thought, for Jack history was full of heroes. And if it made him this way, if it made him see the heroes, maybe other little boys will see. Men are such a combination of good and bad ... He was such a simple man. But he was so complex, too. Jack had this hero idea of history, the idealistic view, but then he had that other side, the pragmatic side... his friends were all his old friends; he loved his Irish Mafia.
  • History!... Everybody kept saying to me to put a cold towel around my head and wipe the blood off... later, I saw myself in the mirror; my whole face spattered with blood and hair... I wiped it off with Kleenex... History! ... I thought, no one really wants me there. Then one second later I thought, why did I wash the blood off? I should have left it there, let them see what they've done... If I'd just had the blood and caked hair when they took the picture ... Then later I said to Bobby — what's the line between history and drama? I should have kept the blood on.
    • A variant reading of White's notes exists: Then later I said to Bobby — what's the line between histrionics and drama. I should have kept the blood on. but in White's own published memoir In Search of History: A Personal Adventure (1978) this is rendered "what's the line between history and drama?"


Misattributed[edit]

  • An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding.
    • Attributed in Wisdom Through the Ages : Book Two (2003) by Helen Granat, p. 118; this actually is cited to Robert Louis Stevenson in The Law of Success (1928) by Napoleon Hill: "An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding; and it is not to be found in foreign lands, but in the heart itself."

Quotes about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis[edit]

In a time of gilt and glitz and perpetual revelation, she was perpetually associated with that thing so difficult to describe yet so simple to recognize, the apotheosis of dignity. ~ Anna Quindlen
  • I do not think it altogether inappropriate to introduce myself to this audience. I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it.
    • John F. Kennedy, remarks at SHAPE Headquarters in Paris, France (2 June 1961)
  • She changed the White House from a plastic to a crystal bowl.
    • Letitia Baldrige; as quoted in A Hero for Our Time (1983) by Ralph G Martin
  • The moment when she crawled out onto the back of the open limousine in which her husband had been murdered was the first and last time the American people would see Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis crawl... She was the last great private public figure in this country. In a time of gilt and glitz and perpetual revelation, she was perpetually associated with that thing so difficult to describe yet so simple to recognize, the apotheosis of dignity.
  • She made a rare and noble contribution to the American spirit. But for us, most of all she was a magnificent wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. She graced our history. And for those of us who knew and loved her, she graced our lives.
  • Let the skeptics snort about Camelot, but there was something during the Kennedy years that was magic. Jackie was more of that than anyone admitted for a long while. She smoothed the rough Kennedy edges. As much as anyone in those heady days, she grasped the epic dimensions of the adventure. No small portion of the glamour of the Kennedy stewardship that lives on today came from her standards of public propriety and majesty.
  • I wanna be Jackie Onassis. I wanna wear a pair of dark sunglasses. I wanna be Jackie. Oooh, please don't die!
  • First the world will call me Bouvier, then I'll change to Jackie K. After my date with tragedy, I will let Aristotle take care of me, I want to be Jackie Onassis oh yeah....

External links[edit]

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