Who was John F. Kennedy Jr.?
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr., was the youngest child and the only son of US President John F. Kennedy. Born just two weeks after his father was elected President of the United States and losing him when he was three days short of his third birthday, his life was full of twists, turns, and gossip that often accompanies children of famous people. Despite being born in a politically powerful and rich family and having a privileged upbringing, he never took anything in his life for granted and worked hard towards finding a niche for himself in society. He worked as a lawyer, journalist, and a magazine publisher and was a favourite subject for the paparazzi and popular media due to his lineage, good looks, and risk prone lifestyle. Like his father before him, and his uncle, he also met with an untimely death and was mourned by common citizens, celebrities, and politicians alike.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on November 25, 1960, at Washington D.C., USA, in the Georgetown University Hospital. His father, John F. Kennedy, was the President of the United States of America and his mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, was the First Lady of the United States of America. He had one older sister name Caroline.
He spent the first three years of his life in the White House. His father was assassinated when he was three years old, in 1963.
In 1968, after the assassination of his uncle Robert Kennedy, his mother took him and his sister out of the United States. She married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis and moved with her children to his private island of Skorpios off the coast of Greece.
He was educated in private schools. He studied in St David’s School and Collegiate School in New York City. He completed his High School from Phillips Academy Andover in Andover, Massachusetts.
After graduating from High School, he enrolled in the Ivy League Brown University. In university he co-founded a student discussion group that focused on contemporary international and political issues. He graduated from Brown in 1983 with an A.B. degree, majoring in American Studies.
After graduating from university, he took a break and traveled to India, spending some time in Delhi, and also meeting Mother Teresa. He was also involved with charitable projects of the Kennedy family in the USA.
He gained admission into the law course at New York University School of Law. He graduated with a JD degree in 1989 from the New York University.
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He liked acting and started acting in plays during his undergraduate days in Brown University. He appeared in student productions of famous plays like ‘In The Boom Boom Room’, the prison drama ‘Short Eyes’, and others.
On August 4, 1985, he made his acting debut in New York to an invitation only audience at the 75-seater Irish Theater on the West Side of Manhattan in New York City. The play in which he acted was titled ‘Winners’ and was directed by his Brown University fellow alumnus, Robin Saex. His co-star in the play was Christina Haag who attended Brown University with him. His performance in this play was well received and Nye Heron, Executive Director of the Irish Arts Center, said that he was one of the best young actors he had seen in years. He expressed a desire to pursue a full-time career in acting to his mother who disapproved of it.
He started working for the New York City Office of Business Development in 1984. He rose through the ranks and served as deputy director of the 42nd Street Development Corporation in 1986.
In 1988, he started working as a summer associate in the law firm ‘Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Phillips’, in Los Angeles. One of the partners of this firm, Charlie Manatt, was friend and roommate of his uncle Ted Kennedy at law school. The law firm had close ties to the Democratic Party.
He became head of the nonprofit group ‘Reaching Up’ in 1989. The group worked with workers who helped people with disabilities to get educational and other opportunities.
After graduating from law school in 1989, he appeared for the bar exam for the State of New York. He failed twice in this exam. He made a vow that he will continue to take the bar exam till he passed or till he reached the age of ninety-five years. He passed the bar exam in his third attempt.
After graduating from law school in 1989, he joined the office of the Manhattan District Attorney. He was working here when he passed his bar exam. He continued to work there for the next four years and won his first case as a prosecutor on August 29, 1991.
In 1992, he started working as a journalist. He was hired by the New York Times to write about his kayaking expedition to the Aland Archipelago in Finland.
In 1995, he again indulged in his long-time passion for acting by appearing on the television sitcom ‘Murphy Brown’. He appeared in the first episode of season eight of the sitcom as himelf for the promotion of his newly launched political magazine. This appearance in the sitcom was the greatest platform that he got for displaying his acting skills.
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In 1995, he in partnership with his friend and businessman Michael J. Berman, founded the ‘George’ magazine. The magazine was intended to be about politics as a lifestyle and fashion. It aimed to present politicians as celebrities and fashion icons and appeal to a broad audience that included people who did not necessarily follow or were interested in politics and political issues. He had fifty percent of the shares in the new magazine venture and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. was the publisher. The tagline for the magazine was ‘Not Just Politics As Usual’.
He officially launched the ‘George’ magazine in a news conference in Manhattan in New York City on September 8th, 1995. In the news conference he reportedly joked that for the first time after he failed his first bar exam, he was seeing so many journalists in one place. The first issue of the magazine featured supermodel Cindy Crawford on the cover page dressed as George Washington which attracted attention as well as controversy.
He wrote editorial columns for the ‘George’ magazine and did interviews of famous politicians also. As publisher of the magazine he managed to recruit an ensemble of leading political commentators, political journalists, and celebrities from the entertainment industry, as contributors to his magazine. He recruited contributors from all sides of the political spectrum of the United States and the magazine featured columns and interviews by and of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as Liberals and Conservatives. He himself inteviewed the powerful evangelical Christian preacher Bllly Graham and the American Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan.
In 1997, he posed in the nude for the ‘George’ magazine in what was seen as a publicity stunt to harness his celebrity status into selling more copies of the magazine. In the same issue he wrote an editorial which was heavily critical of his cousins Michael LeMoyne Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy II which again was viewed as an attempt to garner publicity as it was the first time that a member of the illustrious Kennedy family had publicly criticized his relatives.
For a brief period of time, the George magazine was the largest circulation political magazine in the United States, which made him a successful publisher and magazine editor. However, after a couple of years the magazine began to lose circulation and money which led to his differences with co-founder Michael J. Berman and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. Inc which led to the departure of Berman in 1997. After his death in 1999, the magazine was bought by Hachette Filipacchi Magazines but due to falling advertising sales, ceased publication in 2001.
Personal Life & Legacy
Being the son of the much-loved US President John F. Kennedy and belonging to the illustrious Kennedy business and political family, he was one of the most eligible bachelors in the United States in his time. As a result, he was rumoured to have been romantically involved with a number of famous women.
Among his confirmed romantic relationships were with actresses Daryl Hannah, Brooke Shields, Christina Haag, and Sarah Jessica Parker. He was also romantically involved with supermodel Cindy Crawford and his Brown University fellow student, Sally Munro.
He met Carolyn Jeanne Bessett, a publicist for designer Calvin Klein, in 1992 when he was in a relationship with actress Daryl Hannah. He started dating Bessett in 1994 and she moved into his apartment in Tribeca area of New York City in 1995. On September 21, 1996, after living together for a year, he married Bessett in a private ceremony.
He received his private pilot’s licence in April 1998. On July 16, 1999, he took off in his Piper Saratoga light aircraft with his wife and sister-in-law to attend the wedding of his cousin Rory Kenndy in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The plane crashed in the Altantic Ocean and he was killed along with his wife and sister-in-law.
His popular nickname among the media and the public was ‘John-John’.
He died just eighteen months after the death of his cousin, Michael Kennedy, in a skiing accident in Colorado.
He was rumoured to have been in a relationship with popular singer Madonna though it was never confirmed.