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On this day in history, May 19, 1994, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, worldwide style icon, passes away in NYC

On this day in history, May 19, 1994, Jackie (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis passed away at her apartment in New York City after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was 64.

The enigmatic and glamorous first lady — a worldwide style icon — was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, New York, to socialite mother Janet Lee and stockbroker father John “Black Jack” Bouvier, according to Ancestralfindings.com.

Following a privileged childhood spent in New York City as well as in East Hampton, New York; Virginia; and Newport, Rhode Island, Bouvier enrolled in Vassar College in 1947. She studied abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris during her junior year, according to History.com.


At the time, Kennedy was a young congressman from Massachusetts. 

“They didn’t begin a romantic relationship until almost a year later and were engaged by June 1953,” History.com indicates.

By this point, Kennedy had won election to the U.S. Senate. 

The book, “Profiles in Courage,” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957.

In January 1960, Sen. Kennedy announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency. During the campaign, Jackie Kennedy became pregnant with their second child. Doctors advised her to remain at home. 

While at home, Mrs. Kennedy “wrote hundreds of campaign letters, taped TV commercials, gave interviews and wrote a weekly newspaper column, ‘Campaign Wife,’ which was distributed across the country,” according to the library’s website.

Jackie Kennedy and JFK wedding announcement

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier are shown at the Kennedy family’s home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, shortly after their engagement was announced. The stylish couple is shown together on the lawn of the estate. (Getty Images)

On Nov. 8, 1960, Kennedy beat Republican Richard M. Nixon in a tight race to win the presidency.

“Once in a great while, an individual will capture the imagination of people all over the world. You have done this.”

As first lady, Mrs. Kennedy also traveled to Italy, India and Pakistan. 

Jackie Kennedy red dress smiling

Jacqueline Kennedy, above, at her Georgetown home in August 1960. (Getty Images)

“Her interest in other cultures and her ability to speak several foreign languages, including French, Spanish and Italian, brought her good will and admiration around the world,” said the JFK Library.

On Aug. 7, 1963, Mrs. Kennedy gave birth to the couple’s third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. The infant suffered from a lung ailment and was rushed to the Children’s Hospital in Boston, where he died two days later. 

On Nov. 22, 1963, President and Mrs. Kennedy were in Dallas, Texas, as the president prepared for his next campaign by visiting states important to his reelection.

“As their car drove slowly past cheering crowds, shots rang out. President Kennedy was killed and Jacqueline Kennedy became a widow at age 34,” the JFK Library notes.

The Kennedys “also created the perception that the Kennedy presidency was like the era of Camelot, a mythical time associated with a sense of unfulfilled promise,” says the National Parks Service website.

Jackie Kennedy and JFK in convertible

President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy leave the capital building by car shortly after the former took the oath of office as president of the United States in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 1961.  (Getty Images)

Mrs. Kennedy had a deep understanding of both her husband and his ideals, according to the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy.

After her husband’s death, in an interview with LIFE Magazine given shortly before leaving the White House, Jackie Kennedy said her husband had always looked at history with an idealized view, notes that site.

Following President Kennedy’s death, Mrs. Kennedy started work on the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as a memorial to her husband, the library notes.

“She also maintained her interest in the arts and in landmark preservation and notably, in the 1970s she played an important role in saving Grand Central Terminal in New York City,” Britannica adds.

“And now she is in God’s hands.”


“As you probably know, last night around 10:15 my mother passed on,” he said, in part, as UPI reported at the time.

‘She was surrounded by her family, her friends and her books — the people and things that she loved. She did it in her own way and on her own terms. We all feel very lucky for that.”

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was laid to rest beside President Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, according to the JFK Library and Museum website.

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