This week, Alyson talks about the life of Caroline Kennedy.
Intro Music (00:03):
Every one is voting for Jack cause he’s got what all the rest lack. Everyone wants to back Jack, Jack is on the right track. Cause he’s got…
Welcome to 2021. And also welcome back to the Kennedy dynasty podcast. I’m your host Alyson and today’s episode is all about Caroline Kennedy. I titled it sweet Caroline, because in case you didn’t know, Neil diamond actually wrote the song after being inspired by Caroline Kennedy in the 1960s, which is pretty weird, honestly, but nonetheless. So that’s the title. Anyway, for today’s episode, I did a lot of research about Caroline and her life because I feel like a spotlight isn’t really shown on her as brightly, as it should be, especially considering she is the one who continues her family’s legacy to this day. So she really is an extraordinary human being when you start studying her, would that being said, let’s get started. So Caroline was born on November 27th, 1957, which makes her 63 years old. Now, in case you’re curious, when she was born, it was extremely exciting for her parents.
They had a stillbirth and a miscarriage before her and felt kind of behind the other Kennedy’s as far as having kids goes, Jackie later described her birth as the best day of her life. And she was truly adored by both of her parents, as well as America. JFK was smitten with Caroline and his nickname for her was buttons, which is so cute at the time of her birth. JFK was still Senator to Massachusetts, but he already of course has eyes set on the white house. He announced his candidacy for president in January of 1960, when Caroline was still just a toddler and her brother was born JFK Jr. A few weeks before entering the white house.
Audio Clip: Interviewer (01:42):
Mrs. Kennedy would you introduce this most talkative member of your family?
Audio Clip: Jackie Kennedy (01:46):
This is my daughter Caroline Kennedy, two years old. Can you say good morning.
Audio Clip: Interviewer (01:51):
Doesn’t appear to care too much for the cameras here.
As I kinda mentioned before, she was beloved by everyone. JFK obviously knew the appeal of him being a family man with adorable kids, for the American people and use that to increase his poll numbers. And as we know, Jackie wanted her kids to lead a very private life and tried to shield them from publicity. But with them being them, it was nearly impossible. Now as for childhood in the white house and in the few years that they did have, it was kind of every kid’s dream. She had pets galore and the staff loved the kids and would make treats for them and play with them and all kinds of stuff. It was just a fairytale kind of. And Jackie even created a school in the white house for Caroline to attend with other students as well. But as we know, obviously that fairytale did not last very long.
The first real tragedy in her life, which came when she was very young, still only five was when her brother Patrick passed away on August 9th of 1963. Soon after being prematurely born, he was just a couple of days after he was born. This was obviously devastating, their family and really tough on JFK and Jackie and Caroline knew that and saw that. Caroline even says that that’s the only time she ever saw her father cry. She would even try to comfort her mother. Then she would pick flowers and do all she could to try to make them feel better because she knew that something was wrong. And she herself was probably grieving. I mean, five is not too young to grieve. And then unfortunately, just a few months later, her father was tragically assassinated, as we know, and she was actually on her way to her first sleepover with a friend from school when the news broke about it, the mother of the friend was driving the girls back to her house.
And when the announcement of the shooting came over the radio, she quickly turned it down and thought, Caroline did not hear. She pulled over the car and talked to the secret service agent that was following to figure out what to do. And obviously they had decided to return to the white house and John Jr. And Caroline’s nanny Maud Shaw was the one to tell them about their father’s death. The funeral took place on November 25th, which is just a couple of days before her sixth birthday and actually on John Junior’s third birthday. It said that at one moment she noticed Jackie sobbing during the funeral and she held her hand and told her that she would take care of her. Caroline after that became a fairly private and non-trusting person to anyone that was outside of her family, kind of like her mother. So after the assassination, Jackie pretty quickly moved the three of them into the Georgetown home in DC, but it was an absolute madhouse.
People were using ladders to look into their bedrooms and there were crowds outside constantly. Jackie told Bobby, it felt like she was literally in a tomb and it scared Caroline the whole thing, which obviously it would, it she’s a child. So she would ask when they were walking outdoors, if anyone was watching her and she would like duck her head down and she was very uncomfortable by that. And she even would hide in the backseat floor of the car, away from people when they were driving. She absolutely hated the spotlight. And as I said, honestly, just can’t imagine how scary that would be for a child to have to deal with that. So as most of us know around the same time, that’s when Bobby really stepped in to be Caroline’s father figure. And he did a fantastic job with that. They were very close and Jackie ended up moving them to New York so that they wouldn’t be as harassed by the public.
And that’s where Caroline started attending sacred heart school with a few of her Lawford cousins around this time, Jackie began taking John Jr and Caroline traveling a lot. And she even got to christen a ship named after her father and made a speech just nine years old. Then unfortunately in 1968, her father figure Bobby was assassinated. As we know, providing Caroline’s life with yet another unfathomable tragedy, Jackie no longer felt that the family was safe in America and that they were quote killing Kennedys and that her children would be next. So this is when she married Aristotle Onassis and moved the kids to Greece for part of the time, as I said in previous episodes, Aristotle provided money and security for them, but Caroline never really bonded with him at all. He and John Jr were buddies. They would fish and they would hang out and whatever, but he just, Caroline just really didn’t connect with Aristotle on that level at all.
Although Caroline did end up growing very close to her uncle, Ted. Jackie even wrote a note to Ted asking if he would be Caroline’s godfather since Bobby was no longer around and that she trusted him only really to take care of her the way that she would need to be taken care of. Later in 1969, Caroline was enrolled in the very prestigious Brearley school in New York. She got to experience a lot of life as a kid too though like amazing things that she did get to do. Um, and only 14, she traveled to Europe to work on her photography portfolio because she had become very interested in it after being inspired by Peter Beard. She even ended up moving away from her mother at the age of 17 and attended Concord Academy. And she produced a film about East Tennessee coal miners for PBS. So she was really thriving.
I mean, that’s a huge accomplishment as a 17 year old. In 1975, Onassis passed away after a few tumultuous years of marriage to Jackie and health complications. And then also in 1975, she graduated from Concord Academy with honors. She didn’t go straight to college though, which you would think she would, but she didn’t. She ended up staying out of college for a year and went to Sotheby’s in London. Don’t know if I pronounced that correctly, by the way, but we’ll just go with it to study art. She stayed with her family friend and member of parliament, Hugh Frazier while she was there. But something happened while she was there. Once she was about to get into a car that was meant for him, but she was about to get in and it literally blew up even though the car was meant for Frazier. It still scared Jackie to death.
Of course and she demanded that Caroline returned to New York, but Carolyn said no. And she stayed the entire year after that though, she did return and she completed a bachelor’s of arts degree in 1980 from Radcliffe college at Harvard, she was just always so smart and an excellent student after she graduated, she was hired as a research assistant in the film and television department of the met in New York. And this is where she met Ed Schlossberg. He was an exhibit designer now to the public. They seem kind of like an unlikely match, but they were really good for one another. He was 12 years older than her, which it’s kind of coincidental because JFK was actually 12 years older than Jackie too, but he’s extremely intellectual and protective of her. And he hated the spotlight, which all of that Caroline loved. Now Jackie was said to have loved him from some sources yet.
There’s other sources that say she didn’t. So I’m not really sure on the truth on that front, but I’m going to assume that she liked him fine. They got engaged and at their rehearsal dinner John Jr actually made a toast, welcoming Ed to the family saying that, that it had been the three of them being Jackie, Caroline and John for so long. And that he was excited to add a fourth member. Caroline and Ed’s wedding was on July 19th of 1986 and it was in Hyannisport and she looked absolutely incredible. I’m sure we’ve all seen the photos and her dress was so beautiful. And it even had small silk shamrocks in honor of her father on it. It was a small wedding, but it was a big Kennedy event of course, and tons of press was there and all the things then the reception was huge and it was at Rose Kennedy’s home and there was even a firework show there.
So it sounds like an amazing wedding after that Caroline and ed ended up making the upper East side,
their home and they were only a few minutes from Jackie. Caroline stayed super busy though. She enrolled in law school and got her law degree and passed the bar. She also became a mother on June 25th, 1988, when she gave birth to her daughter Rose. By 1994, she had three kids already Rose, Tatyana and Jack, and was, and still is an incredible mother. She was very involved with their schools and their day-to-day life as a whole. She really kind of, she still volunteered and stuff, but she really kind of put a career as a whole on hold and took care of her kids. Unfortunately though their family did experience another tragedy in 1994, when she lost Jackie to cancer, this was of course devastating to her, but in her Caroline way, she didn’t show it.
And she pressed on constantly. And we’re going to move forward a little bit throughout their lives. As we all know, Caroline and John Jr were truly best friends. They were so different yet. So close. He was always obviously kind of at the forefront of media attention and in some ways welcomed that while she hidden the background, yet she worked very hard. Although there are rumors of their relationship being a bit strained around the time of his death that obviously made no impact on how devastating it was when he passed away in 1999, she was suddenly the only piece of Camelot left. And I can’t imagine how incredibly lonely that must have felt to her so much tragedy in one person’s life. I’m going to play this kind of awkward interview clip that I’ve heard before, where it’s evident that Caroline was never at the forefront of the press’s mind. Like her family was probably because she was so very private, but still she, I mean, she had a lot to say and she did a lot, but she was just never the first one thought on it. And I just feel like I’ve shared this clip.
Audio Clip: Interviewer (10:41):
Are you ever overwhelmed by your legacy? Because you know, when people think of Kennedy, they think of Camelot, they think of your mom, they think of your dad, they think of your brother. And now, you know, of course we have you, are you ever overwhelmed by now? Of course we have. You know what I mean, Caroline?
Audio Clip: Caroline Kennedy (10:58): I know.
So career wise for Caroline, there’s probably too much to list, but she has written multiple books over the years. She works at the JFK library to further her father’s legacy. Along with that, she was the United States ambassador to Japan from 2013 to 2017. She constantly speaks out for what she believes in and does all that she can to uphold her family’s legacy along with encouraging her family’s call to public service. There’s so many details that I could talk about about Caroline and I probably will highlight on and talk about in different episodes, but that’s all that I’m going to do for this particular one kind of just an overview. Caroline, in my opinion, is extremely inspiring in her own right. She’s endured far more tragedy than most people do in her life already. And yet somehow continues on with her goals and her life, despite that she shows so much strength, intelligence, and depth. And I’m just so glad that we still get to see all that she’s doing today and we’ll to do. All right That’s all for today. I hope you learned something new if you haven’t already make sure you’re following me on Instagram @kennedydynasty and check out my shop links in my bio as well while you’re there also I’m on Facebook now. Yay. So search Kennedy Dynasty Podcast there and give it a like. I will talk to you guys next week.
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