Five decades after the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy, stories have again surfaced about Jackie Kennedy’s reasons for choosing to ignore her husband’s extramarital affairs. With the release of new film Jackie, some cannot help but be in awe of how the former First Lady survived everything that came with her husband’s rise to power including his gruesome death.
John and Jackie have been married for more than seven years when he took the oath in 1961. However, when he took the job, he likewise got involved in “almost daily sexual liaisons” according to journalist Seymour Hersh who wrote about it in his book, The Dark Side of Camelot.
Although Jackie might have initially struggled with her husband’s indiscretions, she grew up with her father being in the same situation. Her father’s womanizing influenced how she perceived marriage at an early age. A family insider told People that, “At the end of the day, he came back to Jackie — and that was it. They loved each other.”
As per the publication, Cornelia Guest, whose mother maintained close ties with the First Lady, said that Jackie merely turned the other cheek because privacy, for her, was sacred. However, in another book entitled Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Life Beyond Her Wildest Dreams, authors Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince said that Jackie already threatened to divorce her husband.
The final straw, they claimed, was Marilyn Monroe’s infamous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” performance. A few years before the assassination took place, Jackie allegedly couldn’t take her husband’s philandering anymore. JFK’s father, Joe, had to step in. He believed that a divorce would only ruin his son’s political career. As per the book, he allegedly offered his daughter-in-law a million-dollar check to stay.
The Daily Mail reported that New York correspondent Paul Mathias was aware of the struggles Jackie was facing despite the strong facade she was putting on.
“From the beginning of her relationship with John, she knew about his other women. It pained her a great deal. It sinks into me more and more, just how irreversibly unhappy she is.”
During critical times, it was John’s brothers who supported Jackie more. Despite her husband’s infidelities, losing him in 1963 left her devastated. The First Lady even thought of committing suicide and opened up to two priests about it. Apart from grief, she reportedly feared raising her two children, Caroline and John Jr., alone.
Jackie officially opens on Dec. 2. Natalie Portman, who played the lead role, told People that she admired Jackie because of the strength that she exhibited amid the testing times of her life.
“I loved that she defined herself as a wife primarily, but then lived a life that was very counter to that, where she was her own woman so strongly. It was like she didn’t know how to be any other way, except exactly herself and very, very strong. Very able to author your own story, and she really became the author of her own story – and his story.”
The Black Swan actress spent a considerable amount of time studying Jackie’s way of speaking as well as her physical mannerisms.
For Natalie, the most difficult scene to film was the seven-minute journey to the hospital after JFK was shot in the head. Natalie admitted that she was shocked when she saw the real-life footage of the killing. Some initially thought that Jackie tried to escape, but it was revealed that she actually retrieved a piece of her husband’s brain.
Natalie added that she might not work for a while after finding herself shaken because of the scene.
[Featured Image by National Archive/Newsmakers]