tv First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy CSPAN October 17, 2015 10:40am-12:46pm EDT
president clinton and labor johnson. on american history tv on c-span3. today, just before 5:00 historians on the relationship between president richard nixon in the shop of iran and its impact on u.s. foreign policy. 6:40unday evening at spencer crew on the confederate flag and its history in relation to the legacy of slavery. get our complete schedule and c-span.org. american history tv is featuring p.m.n's history at 8 eastern on sunday night. c-span produced the series on the white house historical association. their conversations with experts, video tours of historic site and questions from c-span's audience would tell the story of america's 45 first ladies. firstacqueline kennedy on
ladies influenced an image. this is two hours. ♪ >> i think every first lady shouldn't do something to help -- should do something to help. everything in the white house should be the best. the art of children is the same the world over. and so, of course, is our feeling for children. i think it is good in a world where there's quite enough to divide people, that we should cherish the language and emotion that unite us all. susan swain: jacqueline kennedy's 1,000 days as first lady were defined by images -- political spouse, young mother, fashion icon, advocate for the arts. as television came of age, it was ultimately the tragic images of president kennedy's
assassination and funeral that cemented jacqueline kennedy in the public consciousness. good evening and welcome to c-span's series "first ladies: influence and image." tonight, we'll tell you the story of the wife of the 35th president of the united states, named jacqueline bouvier kennedy. and we have two guests at the table for the next two hours to tell you more about her life story. michael beschloss, presidential historian, author of many books on the presidency, and has a special focus over the years on the cold war era and the kennedy administration. thanks for being here. michael beschloss: pleasure. swain: barbara perry is a uva political scientist and as part of the "modern first ladies" series at the university of kansas has written a jacqueline kennedy biography. nice to see you. perry: great to be here. swain: i want to start on our program before we get into more details about her white house years, with the assassination and the imagery of the assassination since anyone alive at that age certainly has those
images seared in their mind. and subsequently because of the power of the internet -- in the video we were talking before about, it's a collective consciousness. people have experienced this since it happened. she was just 34 years old, is that correct? beschloss: just 34 years old. and, you know, from the moment at dallas, you know, i think we know so much about this story, you sometimes forget he was shot, in fact into her arms for five minutes they were going to the hospital. he was there with sightless eyes. and she felt almost from the moment that they left the hospital to go back to washington that her great mission had to be to do something to make sure that he had the historical reputation that he deserved, but would not be there to fight for. swain: but where did a 34-year-old woman have the sense to -- and the experience -- what
did she draw from to put this funeral with so many iconic images together in such a short time? beschloss: she once said when she was a young women and she said this somewhat jokingly, "my ambition in life is to be the art director of the 20th century." and oddly enough, she almost turned out to be that, at least for the kennedy administration. and she felt that one thing that would be very important for his legacy would be, as horrible as dallas was, to sort of wipe out the view of that and restore the american people's dignity by having three or four days of ceremony that she hoped would be what they remembered, rather than the tawdriness of what had happened in texas. swain: barbara perry, unfortunately, as we've gone through the first ladies, this is not our first presidential assassination and presidential widow. but it's the first one really in the television age. as a political scientist, you talk about the power of television to affect the public view. how did it play out in this case? perry: well, certainly for the funeral, she knew that she wanted to go back to the lincoln rites -- the funeral rites for abraham lincoln, our first assassinated president. and that is indeed what she did.
she asked her brother-in-law and she asked the president's various friends and aides to come -- come to her aid and to find books on the lincoln funeral. and they did. and then all of this played out on television. so, i always like to point out that when eisenhower was first elected in 1952, about 20 percent of american households had television sets. and by this time in 1963, probably 90 to 95 percent had televisions. and i'm sure like michael and perhaps you as well, i can remember sitting in our family's living room on that night of november 22, 1963 and seeing mrs. kennedy walk out of air force one behind her husband's casket. and i think i can remember my parents and my two older brothers gasping to see mrs. kennedy in her bloodstained suit. beschloss: right. and she -- we now know that what she was saying to people, lady bird johnson on that plane said, "please, jackie, let me get someone to help you change your clothes." she said, "no, i want people to see what they have done to jack." swain: understood the power of that imagery. beschloss: yes. swain: we will have two hours for your questions and comments. and to tell you with video
clips, audio clips, and your conversation, the story of jacqueline kennedy. what's made this series so interesting, really, is the questions that you ask, and we'd like to encourage you to take part once again tonight. there are three ways you can do it. you can tweet us at first ladies; you can post a comment on our facebook page and there's a conversation already underway with a number of questions; and you can also call us. our numbers are 202-585-3880 if you live in the eastern or central time zones; mountain, pacific and farther west, 202-585-3881. and we'll get to your calls in just a bit. i'd like to start with a phone conversation with president johnson. i'm going to ask you to explain about johnson's phone conversations and why we have them before we listen. what did he do in the white house... (crosstalk) beschloss: he taped his telephone conversations, as eisenhower and roosevelt had a little bit and as kennedy had a little bit more, but johnson about 650 hours over five years. and taped people in most cases without their knowledge, which would include jacqueline kennedy, whom at that point she had a very good relationship more or less with lbj. but i think she would not have been too thrilled to know that he was having this call taped. swain: this is a phone conversation from just 10 days after the death of her husband, jacqueline kennedy and the new president, lyndon johnson. let's listen. (begin audio clip)
president lyndon b. johnson: listen, lady, now the first thing you've got to learn, you've got some things to learn. and one of them is that you don't bother me. you give me strength. jacqueline kennedy: but i wasn't going to send you one more letter. i was just scared you'd answer it. president johnson: don't send me anything. don't send me anything. you just come over and put your arm around me. that's all you do. when you haven't got anything else to do, let's take a walk. let's walk around the backyard and just let me -- let me tell you how much you mean to all of us and how we can carry on if you give us a little strength. jacqueline kennedy: but you know what i want to say to you about that letter? i know how rare a letter is in a president's handwriting. do you know that i've got more in your handwriting than i do in jack's now? president johnson: (inaudible). jacqueline kennedy: and for you to write it at this time and then send me that thing today of, you know, your tape announcement and everything. president johnson: i want you to just know this, that i told my mama a long time ago, when everybody else gave up about my election in '48... jacqueline kennedy: yes? president johnson: ... my mother and my wife and my sisters, and you females got a lot of courage that we men don't have.
and so we have to rely on you and depend on you, and you've got something to do. you've got the president relying on you. and this is not the first one you've had. so there are not many women, you know, with a good many presidents. so you just -- you just bear that in mind that you've got the biggest job in your life. (laughter) jacqueline kennedy: she ran around with two presidents. that's what they'll say about me. (laughter) ok. any time. president johnson: good-bye, darling. jacqueline kennedy: thank you for calling, mr. president. good-bye. president johnson: do come back. jacqueline kennedy: i will. (end audio clip) swain: barbara perry, this relationship between lbj and president kennedy was not always the easiest of relationships. but after his assassination, how did he treat the departing first family and jackie kennedy in particular? perry: oh, very well. and mrs. kennedy often talked about how grateful she was to president -- the new president johnson, though i think it sometimes caught in her throat to have to say "president johnson" to him.
beschloss: true, understandably. perry: understandably. and unlike the president's mother, who, when she was called just a couple of hours after the assassination from air force one by president johnson, just very easily slips into calling him "mr. president." but i think that kind of stuck in the throat of mrs. kennedy. but she was very, very grateful to both mrs. johnson and president johnson that they were so gracious to her, and let her stay in the white house until december 6th. and so, she was both able to stay there with her children until she got a sense of where she was going to go. she had no home to go to. and, as one writer has said, in those seconds of carnage in dallas, mrs. kennedy lost her husband, her home and her job. so, she literally had no place to go until averell harriman opened his home to her in georgetown. so, she needed a place to live. caroline was going to nursery school and kindergarten there, so she was very grateful to the president for that. swain: now, you have listened to a lot of jacqueline kennedy on the tapes project, which we'll tell people more detail about. beschloss: many times. swain: but she sounds so in control of herself in what we heard, 10 days after the assassination and going through that whole funeral.
help us understand her and her psyche, as you've come to understand it. beschloss: well, there was strength there, but i think you would find this often with someone who's lost a spouse, or someone very close to them. she said just, you know, during the days of the funeral and the ceremony, she said to one of her associates, you know, "just -- just keep on moving right now. we can all collapse later." and really, until she left the white house, there were enough decisions that she had to make -- where to live, you know, even early decisions about the presidential library, trying to make sure that her children were as -- in as normal an environment as possible in this unbelievably -- you can't think of anything that's more abnormal than the children lose their husband -- or their father this way. and once they got to georgetown, i think that's when she really did, you know, sort of almost collapse. and that was late december through the beginning of the spring. she went through a terrible depression, you know, quite understandably. but before then, you couldn't ask for more than she did in terms of keeping this whole situation together. swain: so, in the days before the trip to dallas, what was the popularity level of the kennedy administration and mrs. kennedy in particular? perry: right.
well, the president had suffered in the gallup polls because of civil rights, because of... beschloss: about 20 points. perry: yeah, indeed. he had fallen particularly in the southern states. so, he -- he was concerned. and, of course, he was going to texas to try to cement the party there and raise money for the '64 campaign. it was really the kickoff for the '64 presidential reelection campaign. mrs. kennedy, though -- gallup did not take regular polls about the first lady at that time. beschloss: isn't that amazing that it was not... perry: it is. but early on, in '61, she was polling at about 59 percent. and then starting in 1962, gallup did take -- it started actually in 1948 -- they had started their "most admired woman" poll. and so, in '62, she's finally supplanted eleanor roosevelt, who had been the most admired number one for about 12 years. and then mrs. kennedy was for about five or six more years after that. so, i would say she was -- she was riding high. and remember, they had lost i their baby, patrick, in august
of '63. and so, i think people felt particularly kindly toward her. swain: and the -- you have a point? beschloss: there's also an irony, because during -- when you john kennedy was planning his campaign in 1960, once made an offhand remark: "during this campaign, we'll have to run jackie through subliminally." and what he meant by that was that jackie was someone who he thought of had been raised in a rather elite way, and rode horses, and would have a life experience that -- that might not be too politically helpful. and there was no one who was more astounded and absolutely delighted that she had turned into this vast political asset a into this vast political asset so that when jfk was planning this trip to texas, john you this trip to texas, john connally and the others down in texas, the governor of texas said, "you have to bring mrs. kennedy because she is so popular, you'll have much bigger crowds," as indeed he did. and swain: i just have to say, you though, john kennedy, much will wealthier than she. in so why was it -- why would
the public not react to his wealth in ways that he was a him and wealth in ways that he was concerned about with her? beschloss: i think he felt that, as many political leaders who come from affluence do, that he managed to give at least the impression of a regular guy in the navy, and did not -- for instance, she once bought him in 1957 as a birthday gift a jaguar. how politically innocent she youhow politically innocent she was. are and he had it returned. i think he traded it in for a buick. (laughter) you and him but he felt that she was not someone who would have much political experience and, you know, compared to, for instance, pat nixon in 1960, might be a difficult comparison. it turned out to be just the opposite. perry: and she talked in the oral history about how she felt that she was a drag on him in i that she was a drag on him in the early days. beschloss: right. i she said, "i said to jack i'm sorry i'm such a dud for you." perry: that's right. beschloss: very quickly, that proved not to be the case. swain: before we get into more detail on the 1960 campaign, i would like to understand the creation of the imagery of camelot. how did that come about? beschloss: that was a week after the assassination, jackie kennedy asked teddy white, who was a family friend and a journalist, by then was writing
often for life magazine, to come up to hyannis port and interview in her with the idea that what she wanted to say would get into life magazine. the presses were held for this. and she said, you know, "late at and night, you know, before jack and and i went to sleep in the white house, we had this little victrola and we used to play the record of "camelot," you know, the play." and needless to say, editors at life and also teddy and i went white saw this was going to be the big theme. and actually, she urged him to make camelot the major theme of his article. but when it came out, the youbut when it came out, the will kennedy presidency and and will camelot made its debut. i think in the end, she may not youi think in the end, she may not have been doing the and you presidency of -- it may not have been something that helped because to say that those years which, you know, had their lights and darks, were all, you know, knights and, you know, great noble deeds, were almost setting him up for the in revisionist movement of the 1970s, as indeed did happen. perry: i think she also must have known that these would come
in along and that she could get and out in front of them perhaps in with this -- this wonderful shining moment, as the lyric and later said, "one brief shining moment." and we know, as and you say, there was a dark side of camelot, but it and and side of camelot, but it certainly was brief. and all you have to do is look at the imagery to see that they were a shining couple with two beguiling shining children. and beschloss: true. swain: well, we're going to spend a little bit of time on the 1960 campaign that brought the kennedys to the white house. you and you will the kennedys to the white house. and to do that, we'll be and you are visiting the jfk library. or library. will we'll do that throughout our program tonight, to learn more about her role in helping her husband during that campaign. in james wagner: in her oral a history, mrs. kennedy speaks at great length about president in at great length about president kennedy's love of reading, love of history; his a belief in the power of words. you and that's something i think that's a belief they both in shared. what i like about and what i your like about this story here you is it shows -- it's an and will example of that belief in the power of words. you please work in the power of
words. you will and it's a great gladly example of the husband-and-wife collaboration and between husband and wife. you and and this is very early in his presidential campaign, in late 1959. the elderly late 1959. and in those early days, mrs. kennedy did travel with him on the campaign trail as much as a possible. you and this is a reading copy is of a speech he presented in in washington state in june of in in in 1959. mrs. kennedy was with him at dinner that dinner. and president kennedy obviously you had speechwriters, but he write what i would often rewrite write to would often rewrite and edit his speeches up until the moment he was about to deliver it. you and at this particular i dinner, as he was waiting to speak, he wanted to close his speech with some verses from ulysses, the great poem ulysses. so he actually asked mrs. kennedy -- he's written a note for you here to mrs. kennedy, and "give me the last lines from ulysses, come my friend." and you here then following in mrs. kennedy's hand is actually the rest of the poem, which she knew from memory and gave it to him so that he could close his speech with those words. and willfrom memory
will work in a swain: we have a facebook viewer that writes: "in an clips from the 1960 campaign, or you rarely see mrs. kennedy." this is kurt herner who writes this. "she was not present at the democratic national convention and you in los angeles. because of the difficulty during her 1956 pregnancy, which she an was actively campaigning for her husband to be on the national ticket for v.p., did mrs. kennedy feel, since she was pregnant again, she couldn't bear losing another baby?" be bear losing another baby?" perry: this is so true. she had just a terrible record you in her pregnancy. she had lost a baby to miscarriage in 1955, and then as no more rolling you miscarriage in 1955, and then as this person you points out, she had lost a baby, stillborn, a little girl i you rate in 1956, right after that very hot, non-air conditioned... beschloss: and she remembered in a the jostling in the crowds and...
perry: right. so she was really just afraid to go. and so i think what this person or is referring to is from about april onward in 1960, she did tend to stay home, though she did go with the future is president, president to be, to a jostling parade in october 1960 through manhattan, through the canyons of manhattan with lots of tickertape. you lots of tickertape. but she was definitely great with child -- the child would be, of course, john, jr. beschloss: and of course, jfk, who always had this great sense of humor, his friend ben bradlee also had a wife who was great with child. and so right after the election was won in hyannis port, jfk said to the two women, "all right, girls, you can take the pillow out. we've won." (laughter) swain: so, what role really did she play? you and at one point you talked about the vetting, the concern to you that she would seem too effete. will but at what point did john you kennedy realize he actually had a political asset on his hands? beschloss: probably the moment that that began to happen was when they went to paris in the spring of 1961 and there were a lot of people who turned out both to see john kennedy, and also to see jackie, who had been -- who had been a student in paris, was known to be; had that french ancestry, spoke french, and certainly knew french art and history.
you that was the first time she are began to get enormous crowds. and then domestically, what you really did it, and i know we'll talk about this a little bit later on, is the program in february of 1962 when she did the tour of the white house that she had worked so hard to restore. you swain: so it wasn't for the campaigning for the white house, but after he was in he began to what you realize that she could help with sustaining popularity. beschloss: right. inbeschloss: right. an exactly. indeed. swain: we're going to take a few calls. first is ida in west palm beach, florida. ida, you're on the air. ida (ph): thank you so much, very very muchida (ph): thank you so much, susan. and in i'm really enjoying the series very, very much. my question is, i was only five years old when the president was assassinated, so i don't really a favorite remember it. moment but i've read so many books about the president and you mrs. kennedy and i'm a very great admirer of hers. and obviously one of the biggest images was the day of the assassination, her pink-stained suit. and i would like to know after she removed it, because i know and i would like to tell him she
did not want to remove it before they returned to washington, as she said she wanted the world to see what had happened to him. what did become of that suit? was it destroyed? continental to or has it been what or has it been preserved somewhere? and if so, where? and will it ever be shown to the public? and i thank you again very much. perry: as i understand it, once she removed it, it was stored i believe in her mother's attic in georgetown. and if people are familiar with the book by william manchester, "death of a president," they'll see the last paragraph of that book talks about when he saw, after some years went by, the packaged dress. and he could see the stains and he said, "if one didn't know the story of that pink chanel suit, one would say the person who wore this had met a terrible end." i think as i understand... beschloss: it goes on to say the last line of the book, "you might even wonder who had been to blame." perry: right. (crosstalk) beschloss: the mystery of the
assassination. perry: the mystery of the assassination. but as we understand, it's with the archives now. the pillbox hat, i understand is still missing, but it's with the archives and caroline has made sure that it will not appear to the public before i think it's 2103. beschloss: i don't think any of us will be seeing that dress. perry: we will not see it, unless there are changes in medical science. swain: mary is in logan, utah. mary, you're on. good evening. mary (ph): yes, this program has been amazing and wonderful and one of the best things on television, and thank you for that. my question is, jacqueline kennedy was such a great style icon and known for that. but in reading her books by her private secretary, mary barelli gallagher, this was an issue with the president of the cost of the wardrobe. as much as was spent on her clothing, was she known as a frugal individual otherwise during the white house years?
and thank you so much. beschloss: not by her husband, i think if he were here to say about that truthfully. but as far as, you know, the way that she dressed, she spent an awful lot on clothing. and that was i think by the best information we have, that was actually supported by joseph kennedy who said, "you know, dress as you need to and send me the bills," because they felt that this was something that would be very important to that presidency. and in those days, it turned out to be a great asset. perry: it did become a bit of an issue in the '60 campaign. there were some statements in the press about -- that she must have spent perhaps $30,000 a year on her wardrobe. beschloss: it turns out she spent a lot more and she put out a statement saying, "i couldn't spend $30,000 even if i wore sable underwear," which she did not wear. (laughter) swain: well, plus she had the nixons -- and pat nixon and... beschloss: republican cloth coat. swain: exactly. so the contrast was drawn for the public, and it was a close election. beschloss: indeed. perry: and then she wore a cloth coat to the inauguration instead of a fur. beschloss: right, right. swain: so next i'm going to have
a clip of jacqueline kennedy in her own words, a project that you know so very well. i want to show the audience the book that came out of this, "jacqueline kennedy: historic conversations on life with john f. kennedy," which you annotated and introduced and worked with caroline kennedy on. what is this project, before we listen to the tape? beschloss: well, when jackie kennedy, right in the wake of the assassination, she was reading all sorts of stories about her husband wouldn't amount to very much because it had only been two years and 10 months. so she was so determined to try to help him win this reputation that she felt he deserved. one of the things that was urged on her by arthur schlesinger, the white house aide and historian, was there was a new movement called "oral history" which barbara is working very deeply in right now at the university of virginia. and that is that, you know, when there are historical events that may not be recorded in letters, we go and interview a great figure in history and somehow try to fill in the gap. so schlesinger interviewed her at her house in georgetown i
think about eight times -- it was about eight, 10 hours in the end -- only a few months after the assassination when her memories were very fresh. and the idea would be that she would speak freely. he told her, "speak to the historian of the 21st century." and these were closed until about 2011, when caroline felt that they should be published and were. swain: has any other first lady done a similar oral history? perry: well, she was certainly the first, jacqueline kennedy was. i'm trying to think of another... beschloss: lady bird johnson did, which you may deal with next week. perry: lady bird, oh yes. yes, and there's a wonderful book now, a transcript book by oxford university press. so it contains all of her oral history interviews as well. swain: well, here's a sampling from one. this is a critique actually, her view of lyndon johnson and the role he played as vice president. (begin audio clip) jacqueline kennedy: but i know jack had to do it because -- have lyndon as his running mate, to (inaudible) majority leader, because had this man with this
enormous ego, would've been just enraged and blocking jack in every way. jack would say you could never get an opinion out of lyndon, and then he -- cabinet or national security meeting, and he asked to go to luxembourg, i mean, i think it's so pathetic when all you can find to do with the president who's dying to give you a lot to do is take a state trip to luxembourg, and so, lyndon as vice president didn't just do anything. (end audio clip) swain: i want to read something from barbara's book before we get to michael. you write in this that arthur schlesinger said, "i realize that underneath a veil of lovely inconsequence, she concealed tremendous awareness." and john kenneth galbraith, equally struck by this trait, "jackie had a very shrewd view of people and who the real people were and who the phonies were and a clear distinction between those who were bright and those who were stupid." so, we're hearing her -- the tapes are actually filled with her assessments of people.
beschloss: she was pretty definite. swain: did john f. kennedy use this to his advantage as a political partnership? perry: i think so. i think that was her political contribution in addition to what we just said about the imagery and mastery of television and that sort of thing, because i think we'll talk about the fact that she didn't have a major impact on policy and that by her own admission... beschloss: nor did she want one. perry: nor did she want one, and he didn't talk to her about it very much. i mean, he might on occasion mention something, but he didn't seek her out for advice, so i think it's the case that if he was going to have any connection with her at all in terms of politics, it would be as they went off on these trips or more likely, when they were coming back from political trips, and she did go to 46 of the then 48 states with him, in 1959 and '60, when they were really out with the rank and file. and so i'm sure that she was on the plane with him coming back, saying, "that person's a phony, that one's real. that one's stupid, that one's really smart. make sure you keep up with that one." beschloss: sure. and if -- if you go through
these tapes as i have, you know, you hear the people that she criticizes, like adlai stevenson, or dean rusk, the secretary of state. these were people who tended not to do too well in the kennedy administration, though she praises like robert mcnamara did very well, so i think he really did listen to her. one thing to remember though, and that is how different these times were in those days, the moment that the kennedys went to texas, on the 21st of november, 50 years ago, 1963, since the inauguration, jackie kennedy had never been west of virginia. she did not travel domestically in this country. she had small children. she didn't campaign. she thought that that would be something to do in an election year, and that's why going to texas meant so much, because she said, "jack, i will do anything to help you, especially because it may be a close election in 1964." swain: so, what else do you learn about her savvy in listening to all these hours of tapes?
beschloss: that this is someone, you remember what you were mentioning what schlesinger and galbraith had said, that this is someone who gave the impression of someone who was not involved in politics, for instance, before the election in 1960 or actually the conventions of 1960, she was asked by a reporter, "where do you think the democratic convention should be held? "acapulco," she said. perry: she at one point -- she asked what the date -- you know, when -- when... (crosstalk) beschloss: what is the date of the inauguration? and she said these things, and she probably was not completely on top of it, but it shows you how different the role of a potential first lady was in those days, because if she had given the image that she is sitting here giving jack all this advice on who in the entourage is not going to serve him well, and who is, that would've been something that would not have helped her in very much. plus, in terms of society in those days, a woman like this, sadly, you know, who seemed to be too professional and too hard edged -- which is the way it would have been seen in 1960 -- would also not have been a political asset.
perry: and katherine graham, the publisher -- like, publisher of the washington post -- said, to be honest, the kennedy men -- and probably many men -- and she said including her husband, phil graham -- were chauvinists. and she said they just weren't interest in what women had to say about anything of substance. beschloss: very much of their time. perry: right. swain: and when did the tapes come out, versus when you worked on the biography? perry: the tapes came out, thanks to michael and caroline kennedy, in fall of 2012. and my book was published... beschloss: 2011, actually. perry: 2011 -- excuse me. and my book was published in 2004. much to my chagrin, the tapes weren't available to write the book. swain: so, when you heard her in her own words, did it square with the view you had developed in your biography, or did you learn new things? perry: i -- i did. i thought they did. and so, i -- at first, i thought, "oh, dear. i wish i had had these to write the book." but then i realized it would have added color. it would have added some substance, to be sure. and, most of all, it would have added michael's superb annotation and editing of the oral history. but i -- i found that it actually followed the examples that we just gave of galbraith and schlesinger talking about mrs. kennedy.
i thought as soon as i listen to the -- the oral history... beschloss: once you get behind the scenes, you'll actually see that she does learn all this since perry: right. it supported it. and -- but what it also made me think about in terms of the camelot image was how she wanted to shape that image of her husband after his death. and that i think part of it may have been that to denigrate others around him sometimes raised him up. i think there may have been a part of that, as well. beschloss: it's that, and also, just humanly. you know, we heard when she was dissing lbj on various things. it's one of the ways that you always have to be skeptical of oral history because that was the spring of 1964. during the presidency, her relationship with lbj was quite good. johnson later said that she was the only person in the whole entourage, aside from the president, who treated him nicely. and she made a great effort to do that. but by the spring of 1964, she was very close to robert kennedy. they were talking all the time. by then, he had already -- was on the outs with lbj, and was essentially talking to her about lbj's shortcomings.
so, i think you have to really listen to that with that in mind. swain: while we're talking about first person historical documents, sheldon cooper on twitter asks, "some of the previous first ladies burn letters from their husbands. did jackie do that, or did john write to her very much?" perry: well, i think she says in the december 2nd... beschloss: she does. perry: ... 1963 phone call with lbj -- and you even hear a little emotion in her voice, where she says, "you know, i -- i now have more handwritten letters from you, mr. president lyndon johnson, than i did from jack" -- i don't think she... beschloss: and jfk, in general, did not write long, emotive letters to anyone. perry: right. he certainly wrote a lot as a youngster to his parents and to siblings, but was not a romantic... beschloss: mm-hmm. perry: ... i think it would be safe to say, towards his wife. but we don't know that she burned any letters, but her letters currently are not available yet at the kennedy library. swain: rachel is in portland, oregon. hi, rachel. rachel (ph): hi. thank you so much for this program. and i was wondering, how did jacqueline kennedy influence art and fashion in the united states?
swain: and, rachel, may i ask how old you are, watching our program tonight? rachel (ph): i'm 12. swain: 12 years old? and... beschloss: what a great question. swain: ... how -- how much did you know about jacqueline kennedy before you started watching tonight? rachel (ph): i've been studying a lot about her recently. swain: why is that? rachel (ph): i like -- i like that studying history very much. and i really enjoyed studying about her, and so i decided to study about her after finding a book at the library. swain: well, thank you very much. it's great to have you participating in the program tonight. thanks for making the effort to call in. so, we're going to actually talk about her influence next. so, let me answer her question by showing a video, and then we can talk... beschloss: terrific. swain: ... more about it. beschloss: and i might say, hooray for rachel. that was a great question. perry: right. and i would say, at her age, 12, i was writing, "jfk: the person i most admire." beschloss: uh-huh. great. perry: so, go -- go, rachel. you'll end up with a ph.d in history or political science. it's a great life.
swain: we're going to return to the kennedy presidential library and look a bit at how they helped interpret jacqueline kennedy as a style icon. (begin video clip) wagner: of course, mrs. kennedy is very well known as a style icon. admiration of her fashion sense. and the first ensemble she wore as first lady, of course, was on inauguration day, this greige colored wool coat and dress, designed by oleg cassini. i think it's sort of a wonderful example of her simple elegance that became very, very popular. and the only thing she wore to adorn the ensemble was a really beautiful ruby brooch by tiffany that jfk actually gave her to celebrate the birth of john junior. and she wore that during the inaugural luncheon, right after the swearing in. and, of course, most famously, finishing the ensemble was this
pill box hat by halston, which she wore that day. not -- and she wore it on the back of her head so that her face could be seen. and that actually set a -- a fashion trend. or as the hat would normally be worn on the very top of the head, she had it pushed back to sort of frame her face. displayed here in its storage box is perhaps one of mrs. kennedy's best known dresses, the chez ninon dress she wore during her televised tour of the white house in february of 1962. visitors to our museum, when we have this dress on exhibit, are quite surprised to realize that it's red, 'cause, of course, the program was -- was filmed in black and white and broadcast in black and white. but i like to surmise that she chose red for that program knowing that it would be televised on valentine's day, 1962. let's go into the museum and look at some other examples of jacqueline kennedy's clothing that we have on display. mrs. kennedy put an awful lot of thought into her wardrobe when
she was representing the country both at the white house and while traveling abroad. she would think about "what colors would mean something to the country i'm about to visit." so, for her visit to canada in may of 1961 -- actually, the first state visit the kennedys made as president and first lady -- she chose this red suit by pierre cardin as a gesture of respect for the -- the red of the canadian maple leaf, and knowing that she would be greeted by the royal canadian mounted police, who very famously wear red. in this case here, we display a pistachio green coat and hat worn by the first lady for her arrival in bogota, columbia in december of 1961. the president and first lady travelled throughout south america on that visit. were greeted by hundreds of thousands of people, an overwhelming response, particularly when mrs. kennedy would address the crowds in spanish. i really admire the thought that
mrs. kennedy put into her wardrobe. she would think about the event she was attending or the country she would -- was visiting. was there a style or a particular color that she could wear that would mean something to her hosts? and she also knew the advantage of choosing a color or a style that would make her stand out in a crowd. (end video clip) swain: so, what should we know about this, other than the fact that the woman loved clothes and looked great in them? i mean, how did she approach -- this question for both of you -- her use of fashion to influence women in the country, or advance the position of the united states abroad? beschloss: she felt that this was -- that for the first lady to dress in the -- sort of in the best of american fashion, try to bring the best of american art and culture to the white house would show the rest of the world -- and she said this a little bit during the televised tour in february of 1962 -- essentially suggest that the united states was no longer this young, adolescent,
country but a country -- this word not have been her language but worthy of being considered as a superpower. perry: and that's where i say she goes from being a clotheshorse to a cold warrior... beschloss: indeed. perry: ... because she... beschloss: she understood this was a part of diplomacy. perry: exactly and helped to draw in what we then called third-world countries. we were the new world and she -- what better representation of the new world than this 31, 32, 33-year-old young, fresh woman with these youthful fashions and... beschloss: and to go to paris looking the equal of people in paris the way... perry: right. beschloss: ... that they were dressed. perry: and when in paris, she did wear givenchy. swain: however last week with mamie eisenhower, she and herself set trends across the country, people were imitating her and it was just a couple of years before that people were putting mamie bangs in their hair. so... beschloss: you know, it's fascinating to hear what they said about the -- you could buy an artificial bang in the drug store. perry: right. swain: you could buy them on ebay probably. perry: but we were -- we were talking beforehand about the ike dress, the ike sun dress and we said we didn't that mrs. kennedy... beschloss: that was not something that jackie would wear.
perry: ... would wear. there was just an -- an upping of the style, upping of the level of the style and i think that goes to all oleg cassini who wrote to mrs. kennedy. first of all, she picked him because he was american though he had european ties and hollywood ties. but he said, "i will create a wardrobe for you on the world stage," and indeed he did. beschloss: and she wrote to him saying, "i want jack and myself to dress as if jack were president of france." and in a way, that happened. it's not something she ever would have said in public. swain: and how did the american public respond? perry: by and large, they loved it. now every now and again, she was a little too youthful like when she'd show up in a bathing suit or be water skiing. so you'd have some conservatives... beschloss: it looked very contemporary. perry: yeah, right, we'd say, "oh no, that's -- a first lady shouldn't do that. and if you do think of the previous three first ladies, eleanor roosevelt and bess truman and the eisenhower... beschloss: don't think that they were water skiing in bikinis. perry: they were not and they were in their 60s when they left office and they were somewhat matronly and they had grandchildren in some instances.
and so she seemed like everyone's older sister or cousin rather than their -- their maiden aunt or their grandmother. swain: let's take a call next from judy in newport news, virginia. hi judy. you're on. judy (ph): hello. love the series and we're really enjoying it. thank you so much. it seems to me that i've heard mrs. kennedy's name pronounced sometimes as "jacqueline." am i recollecting that correctly or is that not true? thank you very much. beschloss: she preferred to be called "jacqueline." she knew that that was a losing battle. she was usually called jackie, which she hated but that was a really losing battle. and she says in her oral history, "both jack and i had thought that the combination jack and jackie was quite unfortunate. swain: anthony is watching in chicago. hi anthony. anthony (ph): hi. how you guys doing today? swain: great. thank you. what's your question, please? anthony (ph): my question was that we (are really going through this) this in my high school right now as we speak.
as you all know, there was a film, zapruder, if i'm pronouncing his name right. we were looking at it in class, which is graphic, and i was horrified, of course. but i was wondering when he got shot, that fatal last shot, when jacqueline -- was jacqueline kennedy trying to jump out of the car in that video or was it just to -- you know, trying to protect herself? swain: thanks. and -- and you're in high school. what year in high school? anthony (ph): i'm a junior. swain: all right. thank you for your call, anthony. beschloss: the answer is we don't know why. she was asked about it at the warren commission and she said that, "i've seen the pictures of myself climbing on the car but i just don't remember that." she was too deeply in shock. swain: if you taught a high school class, would you show the zapruder film? perry: i would not. and i have to say just like the explosion of the challenger, i, to this day, have not watched the fatal shot on the zapruder film. it's too painful. i can't do it.
and i wouldn't show it to students. swain: but it's widely available on the internet... (crosstalk) perry: i'm sure they can see it. swain: and is it helpful, maybe, to talk about it in a classroom where they have a guided discussion of the scene? perry: perhaps. but i just -- that would be a line that i would have to draw. and then i would have to say to them, as i mentioned earlier, that i remember that day so well as a seven-year-old being taken off to -- to church from catholic school to pray the rosary for the president who'd been wounded and then to be told at the end of the day he had died and we would say our prayer of the day for him. so it's just simply too painful. i have to step back from my objective professor scholarly side and be a human. swain: jennifer sherman asks on twitter, michael beschloss, "what would jackie think about the jfk 50 documentaries that are all over television this month? would she be happy this story is still being told"? and she refers to that quote, "i want them to see what they did"" beschloss: i think what she would say -- and there's always a hazard in talking about an historical figure and what they might or might not have thought -- but she was so worried at the end of 1963 that jack would be forgotten.
she would say over and over again to her friends and others, "please don't let them forget jack." and i think at the very least, she certainly wouldn't approve of everything that's being shown. but at least it is a sign that he has not been forgotten. far from it. perry: and the camelot label has remained. she would have to be pleased with that. beschloss: in some quarters. swain: our young caller also talked about her influence on the arts. our next video from, again, the -- the kennedy library is a trip that she took to india and pakistan in early 1962 along with her sister, lee radziwill. let's watch that and we'll talk more about her international travel and her influence on the arts. (begin video clip) jacqueline kennedy: i must say, i'm profoundly impressed by the reverence, which you in pakistan have for your art and for you culture and for the use which you make of it now.
my own countrymen too have a pride in their traditions. so i think as i stand in these gardens, which were built long before my country was born, that's one more thing that binds us together and which always will. (end video clip) swain: the interesting thing on this, we were just talking about so much of the images of the kennedy administration are black and white and here we are in color. how did that happen? beschloss: this was a presidency and a president who actually was very conscious of the value of color photography. one of the last tapes that we have of him from november of 1963, he's talking about plans for the 1964 democratic convention. he says, "i want to have a motion picture about the administration in color because that has so much impact." and so one lucky thing for us is that there would have been a united states information agency, cinematographers accompanying her on a trip like this. so we have a color film, which was very rare for the time. swain: how many international trips did she take during the administration, approximately? perry: well, let's see. this, of course, was by herself,
with her sister but not with the president. so it was -- would be viewed as an unofficial trip. and then official, we could start with the canadian trip. that was their first trip out of the country in march of '61 then paris and vienna in june of 1961. they made several trips south of the border so they went to puerto rico, to columbia, to venezuela, i believe to costa rica. and then let's see. where else had they gone? any idea... beschloss: well, it's like she felt that it was not her duty outside of campaigns to travel domestically in the country... perry: right. so she tended to travel by herself, again... beschloss: right. perry: ... with family for vacations. beschloss: true. perry: and then this was an unofficial trip beschloss: but -- but she felt she knew how important it was for her... perry: right, right... beschloss: ... to go, for instance, with him to... perry: (inaudible) beschloss: ... vienna when khrushchev was meeting with him, bringing his wife. swain: and how important was -- were these trips to advancing the foreign policy of the administration? beschloss: well, i think that for jfk and jackie to get receptions like the kind that they do in paris, for instance, in 1961, or when they went to vienna to meet with khrushchev and got a reception on the streets that was 10 times that
that greeted the leader of the soviet union, nikita khrushchev, that was a time when the united states was trying to make the point, "we're the rising power that you, third-world countries, should align with us, not the soviet union." it helped. swain: next up is dennis, who's in brooklyn. hi dennis. you're on the air. welcome. dennis (ph): yes, hi. thank you susan, thank you for this program. i just wanted to ask, we've already mentioned that mrs. kennedy had a huge influence on the art, style, and culture. i'm curious: ever since i saw how she finished that ulysses quote earlier in the evening during her '60 campaign, her -- she was incredibly well-read. was it her education, or was it her upbringing that fueled her intelligence? perry: it was both. as she talked about, in an autobiographical essay that she had done for the prix de paris competition in 1951, she talked about her upbringing, and she said that she was a tomboy, and she liked to go horseback riding, but she also liked to be
by herself and sit in a room and read rudyard kipling and little lord fauntleroy, and she just loved to read books, especially with a european cast to them. so, she was a reader, an avid reader, much like her husband, but she tended to read literature, he tended to read history. and then she continued this throughout, and then she also had a superb background and education, both for her prep school years as well as going two years to vassar, then to the sorbonne for junior year abroad in paris, and then finally, to finish up at george washington university. so one of really a relatively handful of first ladies up to that time with a bachelor's degree, an undergraduate degree. beschloss: and you know, as we talk about art, i think sometimes it's forgotten, her influence on historic preservation. you know, nowadays we take it as a given when there's a beautiful and historic building. there had better be a very good reason to take it down or else you do not do it. just 50 years ago, that was not
the case. you know, that's when the term urban renewal was used. that something new was usually better than something old. if john kennedy and particularly jackie kennedy as first lady had not been the president and first lady in the early 1960s, the executive office building next to the white house would've been torn down, which dwight eisenhower was very eager to do, thought it was an eyesore. probably half of lafayette square, the president's park, north of the white house would've been torn down. perry: including dolly madison's home. beschloss: yep, historic. perry: i came by there on the way here tonight, and there was the white house, all lit up, bathed in light, and the beautiful lafayette square around it. beschloss: and it would've been replaced by federal office buildings of the time that would look roughly like a federal penitentiary and a prison yard. that shows what a difference that it made that she was there, and it really helped the historic preservation movement to accelerate. swain: you quote in your book tish baldridge. who was she? perry: tish baldridge was her
social secretary and schoolmate from miss porter's school in connecticut. they had been in prep school together. swain: you write, many years later, baldridge wrote that mrs. kennedy designed her mission as first lady along the following lines. do you remember the mission, or shall i read it? perry: i'll let you read it. swain: all right. preservation of her family, entertaining with style and grace in the number one house in the world, the makeover of the white house itself as a focus of american history and accomplishment, and the raising of the cultural stature of this country. perry: and isn't that amazing, that she wrote that before going into the white house? beschloss: sure. perry: that she already had that sense, that firm sense. first of all, family and children first, as anyone would hope that would be the case, but that she already had what we would call today a mission statement before she began her first ladyship. swain: well, on her family, our next clip is from nbc's (sandra vernoker) and an interview that he did for his network about raising children in the white house. let's watch. (begin video clip) jacqueline kennedy: it is rather hard with children.
there's so little privacy. i don't mind for myself, but i think it's very hard with them. for instance, i wanted to take my daughter to the circus last week, and i decided i just shouldn't, because i would ruin it for her. i work so hard to make her little ballet school a private thing that we could do together, and there were all the photographers waiting when we got there. so, it's a little hard. sandra vernoker (ph): do you think that caroline, for example, who's older than john jr., has she been changed much by the attention she's gotten? jacqueline kennedy: no, because she's still too little. but some day, she's going to have to go to school and if she's in the papers all the time, that will affect her little classmates, and they'll treat her differently. that's what i'm so anxious -- we always treat her the same, but it's how other people treat her, because they read about her. (end video clip) swain: both of you have written about the school that they created in the white house.
will you tell us the story of how it was created, what the goal was, and how the public received it? beschloss: well, you heard a little bit about exactly her motive right there, which was she was worried about caroline, for instance, who, when her father became president, would've been three years old, going into an existing school and having people fawn over her, especially given the way things were even then, in washington. and she thought that it might be normal if -- more normal for her if she created a school in the white house solarium, that room on the top of the white house. so, they hired teachers and they had other kids around the same age who were mostly the children of other members of the administration, and that school went through the length of the kennedy presidency, and at the time of the assassination, november of 1963, one of the things that lbj did do, which was gracious, which was to say, "the school can go on, at least till the end of this semester."
swain: but you write that there was a controversy because all the children were white. perry: mm-hmm. there was, although, there is a photograph of them, in fact, in michael's "oral history of mrs. kennedy" that shows the class portrait of caroline and her little schoolmates, and there is a -- one african american boy. i think he was the son of andrew hatcher, who was the assistant press secretary, but they -- they were receiving... beschloss: in fact, he said to his father, you know, "the president came over and he addressed me by name," and his father said, "how do you think he knew it was you? " and he said, "he must've been it" and he said, "he must've been told i was the one with the blue pants." (laughter) swain: as opposed to the african american child. female: but of course this is at the height of concern over integration and it's only a few years after brown v. board, so people were writing in to the white house and saying, "are there any," in those days, they would probably say, "negro children or black children in the class? " and at first they had to say no, and they had to say for sure, this was a private school, this is not a public school, which would've been subject to the supreme court's brown v. board edict. beschloss: sure. swain: we have on still some of the major events, accomplishments of the kennedy administration . we've done this for each
program, not to ignore the presidential history happening along, as we learned about the first lady -- first ladies. first on this list, the creation of the peace corps, the advancement of the space program, the creation of the space program. the bay of pigs, and the cuban missile crisis. the introduction of civil rights legislation, which john kennedy sent to congress. and sending military advisers, actually, increasing the number of military advisers in vietnam. want to comment on any of those in particular and how it framed our view of the historical relevance of the administration? beschloss: well, i think one way of evaluating a president is to say, you know, how much did he really engage with the basic controversial issues of his time? domestically, the biggest issue was civil rights. it took john kennedy two and a half years, but after the two and a half years, he sent the first big civil rights bill to congress, saying public accommodations should be integrated. he did that. it took a lot of courage. domestically, the cold war, the cuban missile crisis, you can
argue round or flat, i think probably some elements of what he did led to the cuban missile crisis, but the moment that it happened, i want john kennedy as my president, because he managed it in a way that did not result in the deaths of up to 40 million americans, which could've happened. those are things i think as relevant today as they would've been at the time. swain: comments? perry: well, and then the bay of pigs, which usually the term "fiasco" is associated with the bay of pigs, the utter failure to remove castro and yet, because president kennedy went out, gave a press conference, said i'm the responsible officer of this government, i am the responsible one, his opinion ratings, his approval ratings went up to 83 percent. beschloss: right, and also when the cuban missiles, when the soviet missiles went into cuba, the joint chiefs were saying, "invade and bomb, you know, you won't be taking much of a risk." he knew by then to be skeptical of the joint chiefs in a way
that he was not at the time. perry: right, and refashioned his entire administrative procedure for making these kinds of decisions. beschloss: fired two chiefs. swain: andrew. charleston, south carolina. hi andrew, you're on. andrew (ph): hi, thanks for having me. thanks, michael beschloss, thanks, janet reno. (laughter) i was wondering how -- what was jackie kennedy's astrological sign? and how did it shape her worldview? swain: some first ladies were interested in astrology, was jackie kennedy as far as you know? beschloss: yeah, i've watched the series. i was, in some cases, surprised by the number of first ladies, and in some cases presidents who were. she was born on july 28th, 1929, so perhaps our caller could tell us. i think that's leo, is it not? swain: he's off the line. beschloss: well, i think it is leo. my wife was born on the same day, so i've got a little bit of a leg up. perry: where is the woman who came to see me in richmond who had plotted out the astrological signs of the entire kennedy family? swain: listening to jackie kennedy in these videos and the audio clips that we've had,
regina crumkey wants to know, did jackie speak with the same care and pauses in normal conversations as what we've been showing on tv? beschloss: no, she didn't. and i think i -- actually never expressed herself on this. some people who knew her commented on the fact that in public, she spoke in a way that was very careful. sometimes, they felt it was a little bit stilted, and their explanation, i think this is probably right, is that she had in her mind the way a first lady should look, the way a first lady should act, and also the way a first lady should sound, which was different from the way that she sounded, you know, off-duty in the evenings. swain: but her mother and sister also had the same? perry: yes, the auchinclosses and the bouvier women, and in fact, this is -- has a label called "locust valley lockjaw" for the oyster bay area of long island. beschloss: it wasn't quite that bad. perry: but this is actually what tish baldridge to me, she said, "oh," she said, "they all spoke
that way." she called it "locust valley lockjaw," and so part of it i think is just exactly what michael said, and the other is, the whispery part of it, supposedly her dad had said "that's a way to attract men," and i always point out that the photographs of mrs. kennedy, locked in conversation with important men, with powerful men, with foreign dignitaries, and oftentimes she's really close to them with this -- a strapless gown and a bare shoulder kind of tucked up under their arms, and i just have the sense that she's using that whispery, breathy voice, and george plimpton said, "she just enveloped." even as a teenager, she would speak to a man, a young man, and he said, "oh, she would just envelop you, and you just felt that you were really brought into her orbit." so clearly, it worked. beschloss: and also, when she wrote letters, for instance, she wrote some of the best letters, and, you know, just romantic, and sometimes, almost overdoing it, you know, saying how wonderful someone was, or, "the evening i spent at dinner with you was one of the best evenings of my life," when actually, it may not have been -- to the point that many people were so charmed by these that they felt that they were actually much
closer to her than they actually were. swain: next is craig in omaha. hi, craig. craig (ph): hi, how are you doing tonight? swain: great. thank you for your call. what's on your mind? craig (ph): well, on my mind is, barbara, i love your book, for starters. perry: thank you. craig (ph): my question is -- i own a 1962 kennedy board game. and my question is, how did mrs. kennedy feel about her image being put out like that? swain: kennedy board game? perry: kennedy board game? beschloss: well, i've got a view, but you were asked the question. i perry: i was given a deck of cards by a student of mine in sweet briar college that had all of the kennedy family on the faces of the cards. i doubt that she would have been very pleased with that, but she had to know that these things
were happening. and -- and she also had approved for caroline a little paper doll collection that would have shown caroline as a paper doll dressed up like first ladies. that didn't go to the bookstores, but... beschloss: i think she did that under huge duress from the political advisers in the west wing... perry: perhaps so. beschloss: ... who knew that that would sell politically. she barely tolerated things like this. she thought it was undignified. she hated it when it involved their children. she listened to that famous record, the first family," the best-selling record at that time, bar none... perry: vaughn meader. beschloss: ... lp in history. vaughn meader imitating jfk in skits. and she was outraged that there would be an actress playing caroline. swain: but we are in the height of the "mad men" era, the advertising of a creation of political campaigns that came from madison avenue. beschloss: right. swain: she had to recognize the political value in all of this. beschloss: she did, but she did it sort of kicking and screaming. for instance, many of the pictures that we most treasure of jfk and those children, you may notice that there's no jackie, and the reason for that is that they were taken when jackie was oftentimes out of the country, and not in a position to object when jack said to his press secretary, pierre
salinger, "all right, cost is clear. get the photographers in. swain: you've given me a nice segue, because next (inaudible), we want to talk to both of you about the relationship between the press and the kennedy administration, in general. and then specifically, how jacqueline kennedy interfaced with the press at all. so, let's start with -- i mean, when you look back at those times, there's so much written about the friendliness of the press corps. the -- the relationship between the washington post owners and editors and the kennedy administration. looking through a historical lens, how does that look to you now? beschloss: well, much more gentile in almost every respect about private lives. i mean, kennedy, you know, like most presidents, had a thin skin, and though that the press was literally just at his throat all the time, and much too critical. compared to nowadays, you know, it looks extremely different. her attitude toward this was, at the beginning of the administration, pam turnure, who was her press aide -- she said to her, "your policy should be with the press to give out minimum information with maximum
politeness," which pretty much summarized it. swain: we're showing a picture right now of jacqueline with ben bradlee and his arm around her. so, you look at how close that relationship seems, and you wonder where that -- or the state has... beschloss: and she -- actually, i might say, this picture -- you may notice, the original picture showed a little bit more of her leg. and before giving this to the bradlees, she actually took -- it's hard to see, but a black ink pen and inked it in a little bit so that her dress was a little bit longer and first lady-like. but -- and the other thing this picture is that this is upstairs in the white house, and looks very different from the way it might have during the eisenhowers. perry: and the bradlees were neighbors, we should point out. of course, he went on to be, of course, the editor of the washington post. and people know him from -- from watergate and "all the president's men," but... beschloss: and he's getting a presidential medal of freedom next week. perry: right, but he was also
the editor of newsweek at that time. but he had been... beschloss: bureau chief. bureau. i perry: ... and -- yeah, and he had been the -- the neighbor of the kennedys, along with his wife. so, they were good friends, and they continued that friendship, as you can see. and some of those beautiful videos that were taken in those last weeks out at the -- the northern virginia home right before the assassination are with the bradleys. and they were brought in the a afternoon of the assassination to be with the children. and they then went out to be with jackie. so, they were very close. in swain: but did it serve the public well? perry: oh, i'm sure not, in the sense that -- you know, ben
bradlee was not going to be highly critical of the president. on an occasion or two, he was, and upset the president, but... beschloss: and the president did i not talk to him for about six want one hour i when we talk about how the press interface, and how they might have been gentler then, two issues that -- that were very much a part of jack kennedy's biography to talk about -- first of all, his
health. there are many things we know now about the severity of the back pain and addison's disease and the like. why did we not know more about it at the time? beschloss: because he would not have been elected president in 1960. there were rumors that he suffered from addison's disease, which he did. perry: we should say, rumors -- rumors spread by lyndon johnson, among others. beschloss: and others, sure. perry: yeah. beschloss: and there was an effort by his entourage to protect him and say, "he didn't suffer from addison's disease," or not the classic kind. that -- that's what was done. in recent years, we've gotten access to his medical records, which show that he suffered from all sorts of things, be it bad stomach, bad back -- all sorts of things. you know, many medications. and you can look at this one way or another. you can say, "isn't this terrible? this was a terrible cover-up. we should have known." probably,
we should have. at the same time, if you're trying to evaluate what the man was made of, to go through all that -- his brother once said, "jack kennedy went through at least half of his days on this earth in intense physical pain." probably true. and that is a test of someone, i think, who had great will. perry: and, frankly, had the last rites of the church said over him, what, three or four times... beschloss: more than once, yes. perry: ... prior to dallas in 1963. beschloss: yeah. swain: i'd like to have you tell a story that you tell in your book about early in their marriage when he has experimental surgery on his back. perry: oh, yes. swain: and she as a young wife tends to him. would you tell that story? perry: it's so difficult for them in those first few years, because his -- his back just gets worse. we think first from a football injury in college, and then slammed against the -- the bulkhead of (pt-109) in the midst of world war ii, and so, between that and taking cortisone for a bad stomach, robert dallek believes in consulting with doctors, that that caused the deterioration of the lumbar, and so in the early part of their marriage in '54, he has this experimental fusion attempt to be made of the lumbar region, and they place a metal plate in his spine and it just does -- first of all, he suffers a terrible, terrible infection that almost kills him, and
beschloss: with reduced immune response. perry: from his addison's disease, and then it won't heal. the wound won't heal. and so here's jacqueline kennedy, a newlywed, and a young woman in her early 20s, and she's with him once he gets to palm beach from the hospital, and she's having to dress this gaping wound. so, then he goes back under the knife a few months later, and they have a slightly -- they remove the plate, and they have a slightly more successful surgery, but he suffers periodic bouts of severe back pain for the rest of his life. beschloss: also led him -- led her to be very skeptical of doctors. one of the most poignant things is that in parkland hospital in dallas, when he was there and the doctors were working on him after the shooting, the doctors and the nurses said, "you can't come in here," and she said, "i'm going to be there when he dies." and the reason was because when she went through this in 1954, she remembered how the doctors had said, "you can't be near him," even though she heard him
calling for her. swain: ted is in fort lauderdale, florida. hi ted. you're on. ted (ph): hi, thank you. cute story. jackie, when she lived in manhattan, i believe lived in an apartment building on fifth avenue, and right next door, in one of the apartment buildings, was greta garbo. beschloss: mm-hmm. ted (ph): and jackie was a great greta garbo fan. and she would watch -- and when she'd see greta garbo on the street, i don't want to use the word stalk, because that's too cruel, but she would follow greta garbo going into a store, she would follow her, never speaking to her, but just looking at her, and saying, "oh, there's greta garbo, one of my" -- you know, a person she really loved and admired. beschloss: well, she actually knew greta garbo, because in a number of... ted (ph): oh she did? that's what i want to hear. beschloss: 1963, greta garbo came to the white house for dinner, and jfk's schoolmate, lem billings, actually had known greta garbo in europe earlier,
spent some time with her. so, jfk played a practical joke on his schoolmate, which is, he said, "you know, lem is going to fawn all over greta, as they're great pals. ms. garbo, please pretend that you've never met lem in your life." so, garbo comes into the room. they sit down to dinner, and he begins to -- lem billings begins to talk to greta, and greta says, "i've never met this man before in my life." perry: those prep school pranksters. beschloss: indeed. swain: you mentioned robert dallek, and it is a quote from his book, "an unfinished life," that i want to use to introduce the other topic of the relationship with the press, and that is john kennedy's womanizing. here is one thing that he wrote. "kennedy had affairs with several women, including pamela turnure," is that how your pronounce her name? beschloss: yes. swain: jackie's press secretary. "mary pinchot meyer, ben bradlee's sister-in-law, two white house secretaries, playfully dubbed fiddle and faddle, judith campbell exner, and a tall, slender, beautiful 19 year old white house intern""
well, how much did the press know about this and not report? beschloss: well, you know, ben bradlee, whom i have talked with at great length, insists that he did not know, did not know even about his own sister in law being involved with jfk, so i think in retrospect, there's a feeling that this was either better known or better documented than it may have been at the time. swain: in your biography, you talk about the fact that his reputation as a womanizer was known when he was a senator in washington. she was well aware of this reputation, as they were dating. what do we know about mrs. kennedy's knowledge of how much it continued after the marriage and if so, what -- how she felt about it? perry: well, bless her heart. this is one thing that she kept her counsel on most of the time and we know that she is... beschloss: yes, it's awfully hard to establish perry: yes. and so she didn't write a memoir, she didn't go on oprah and tell all. and again, i think that's a great credit to her... beschloss: or even tell some. perry: or even tell some. so we -- we think that she may a couple of times let out in -- in anger, perhaps, in french both
instances, where she made a reference to someone who might be having an affair with her husband in private. one can only speculate about what that was like in the marriage and what tension it must have brought to the marriage, especially the early marriage when -- when he was having all of these medical problems. beschloss: and she would have to assume. perry: ... and she was having trouble with her pregnancies as well. swain: both of -- a question for both of you: when you look back knowing now what we know about the tensions in their marriage and the challenges they faced, what was the relationship like? how strong a marriage does this seem with your documentary evidence? beschloss: i think it was a real relationship and probably perhaps happiest at the very end. she certainly that our happiest years were in the white house. i think that was true. and also there's a lot of evidence that suggests that after they lost a son, patrick, in august of 1963, they became a lot closer.
for instance, you see them holding hands at an airport, at -- on the last day of his life in a way that you had not seen before. perry: and then she would say that in the oral history, wouldn't she? she would say, you know, "my husband really didn't like to kiss babies or kiss me or hold my hand or -- he didn't kiss me after the inauguration." and yet that lovely photograph that you showed of her touching very gently his cheek and -- and she says in the oral history, "i just wanted to say, 'oh jack, what a day,'" and i think that speaks volumes. and then as they came out of the hospital after poor patrick had passed away after two days, he is holding her hand as they come out in front of photographers. and when they take the helicopter back to hyannis and they -- they come down the steps, he's helping her because she's gone through this cesarean section and it's just a week later. he's helping her down the steps and then gingerly comes down himself. and i had not seen that before. and ben bradlee says on their
10th anniversary that september of '63, he thought he saw them closer than ever and when they came together in newport for their anniversary, he said he had never seen her greet him so warmly. beschloss: and i think that is -- i mean, for all the reasons that she was distraught and devastated by what happened on the 22nd of november, it was that much worse because if you assume that there was new hope and new warmth in that marriage then suddenly this happens, you can imagine what was going through her head. swain: how much of the 1,000 days did she spend away from the white house travelling? beschloss: i don't have a number but she did, for instance, go to italy in the summer of 1962 with her sister and her daughter. and swain: but was it -- i'm asking the question because we talked about international trips before. but i mean, did she intentionally get out of washington? beschloss: oh yes. for instance, they rented an estate called glen ora in middleburg, virginia for the first two years where she rode horses. she felt that particularly with those children, the more she
could get them away from the white house and press attention, the better it would be for them and her. swain: katie bampfield on twitter wants to go back to the camelot imagery and asks, "camelot (in the lens) jackie wanted jfk's presidency to the remembered was discussed. was this an effort on her part to hide their issues"? beschloss: i think not specifically in -- in some sense. but it was her effort to get people to look at that period through that frame and for years, it was successful. swain: so her -- her time in the white house, the things we -- we should talk about which are contributions, entertaining and the arts. what did she do on this level to introduce the public to aspects of american culture that perhaps they might not have seen before? perry: um-hum. well, you mentioned entertainment. first of all, i counted up 16 state dinners in only those 1,032 days that they were in the white house and -- and -- compared, for example, to george bush, 43, i think they may have
had a half dozen or so in the eight years for a host of reasons, 9/11, security issues and -- and laura and george bush didn't -- just didn't happen to like to entertain that way. but the kennedys loved it and they would these third-world leaders and they would draw them in. the arts were then part of that entertainment so they would have the lively arts and mrs. kennedy had staged beschloss: people would -- people would remark on the fact that -- that mamie and ike would have fred waring and pennsylvanians and orchestra... perry: big band music, right. beschloss: roy rogers... perry: or military... beschloss: ... was -- precisely. perry: ... marshal music whereas... beschloss: ... whereas the kennedys had ballet and pablo casals. perry: right. and opera and -- and -- and so there was that. and then the -- the fine arts, she had her fine arts committee bringing paintings, attracting paintings to the white house and then... beschloss: mona lisa to washington. perry: i was just going to say that's my favorite story, is the mona lisa coming to the -- to washington and to new york. and then the picture of her standing in front of it in that gorgeous strapless pink gown, again, one of those with her arm kind of tucked up under andre malraux, the cultural minister of -- of france is just priceless. beschloss: and the other thing
is that she so much saw things aesthetically and knew that those things could be important, which we saw, of course, during the four days in november of 1963. but if you see the way a president nowadays receives a state visitor, that's all jackie kennedy's doing. during eisenhower and the predecessors, if you had a state dinner in the state dining room, there'd be a big table in the shape of an e and the president and first lady and the visitors would be at the long side of this and it was very formal and almost military-looking. it was her idea that you should have round tables that encourage conversation and you should have a pageant on the south grounds perhaps with performers that harked back to the revolutionary period. even air force one, she had repainted with the design that we see nowadays. she knew that even that plane landing at a foreign airport looking the way it does would be a tool of america's diplomacy. perry: and it was her idea to greet the foreign visitors on the -- the lawn of the white
house oftentimes... beschloss: and make it a ceremony. perry: and make it a -- a beautiful ceremony. otherwise it would be at union station or national airport. swain: jessica's in berwyn, pennsylvania. hi jessica. jessica (ph): hi. thank you for this series. it's so much fun. i'm curious to know since she's so lovely, did she have a regular exercise regimen and what was her diet like? perry: she certainly walked a lot. she liked to get out and walk around the white house grounds. but her favorite sport, as most people know, was equestrian. she was a very good equestrian. in fact, her mother had spent a year of her freshman year at sweet briar college in virginia where i taught for 21 years and they are known for their equestrian program. beschloss: very subtly put in there. perry: thank you very much. i thought it did too. and so she would -- she would actually go to sweet briar after the white house years and she would train with the equestrian coach there, paul cronin, and he said she was a very good equestrian. and this had started when she was practically just walking,
she was in the saddle. so that was her favorite way to get out and get fresh air. and we can tell by her physique that she obviously watched her diet, ate -- ate carefully and exercised well. swain: well while we're getting the good points, we should also say that she was a smoker. beschloss: she was a smoker, which was something that was very well-hidden. sometimes she would smoke putting a cigarette in an ivory holder, which politically would -- would not necessarily have been the most helpful thing. she also water skied and on the aforementioned album of the first family, there's one where john kennedy is -- john glenn, the astronaut is called to hyannis port for this grave mission and they say, "all right, get down to the dock and put on your water skis. jackie is waiting." perry: and on the cover of that album, there is a butler holding water skis. beschloss: indeed. perry: and she also took caroline out and pulled her up on the skis with her, so that, that generated letters. "how dare you put your child in danger that way?" swain: and we've talked about the white house restoration. the truman administration, they gutted the white house, the trumans, and completely restored
the framework and the architectural integrity. what specifically did jacqueline kennedy and the kennedys do? beschloss: well, what happened under harry truman was that for structural reasons, as we saw two weeks ago in your excellent series, the white house had to be gutted and a steel superstructure put inside, eight inches away from the outer walls and that's what's there nowadays. it turned out to be so expensive that there was not much money left to buy furniture, so harry truman made a great deal with b. altman, the department store in new york, to furnish the whole ground floor, the state floor, in bulk, you know, for a pretty good price, with reproductions. jackie got there after the election of 1960, was shown through it by mamie eisenhower. she was aghast. she said it looked like a statler hotel, which she did not mean as a compliment, meaning that it's sort of not very convincing reproductions. so, this mother of two, with other things to think about, took on what was this enormous
project of raising a huge amount of money and also getting donations of furniture and art and artifacts. she wanted the white house to be the equivalent of the great houses in europe. she felt that for foreign leaders to come to the white house and have it look like a hotel that was in some cases threadbare and full of reproductions, it cast a bad light on the united states, and so, if you like the way the white house looks nowadays, we should thank jackie kennedy. swain: well, we've been telling people all along that our partners for the series are the folks at the white house historical association. beschloss: of which i am a trustee, i should fully disclose. swain: we should say that. but it was created during this time. beschloss: by her. swain: what is the story of its creation? what did it do, then? beschloss: well, it helped her to restore the white house and acquire furniture and art and artifacts, but the thing that she was most concerned about was she was worried that when she was no longer first lady, the next first lady might not be so
interested in history and might have a sister in law who ran a curio shop somewhere, who decided that they would redecorate, perhaps, in the style of the late 1940s or something that was more contemporary. so, she thought that if there was a white house historical association, that would be one bulwark that would prevent future first ladies from, you know, turning it backwards, back to before the period in which it had become such a great museum. perry: and she set a precedent then, for the other two branches of government. so, very quickly, congress establishes its own historical society, and the supreme court did about 10 years later. swain: we're looking, or are about to look at a photograph of the press conference of the announcement of the white house guide that came out at that time, and folks at the white house historical association will tell us it's still in print and since its debut in 1962, 4.5 million books -- of these books, have been sold. beschloss: they have. she remembered going there... swain: you're an author, you'd like to have a number like that,
huh? beschloss: yes, but i think maybe not by... swain: not for a dollar apiece. beschloss: well, i think the guidebook is in a class of its own and should be. 1940, she went to the white house as a -- i guess it would've been a 10 or 11 year old girl. and she was disappointed that there was not a guidebook. perry: mm-hmm. "nothing to take away," she said. beschloss: right, so she felt that was important. she also knew that this could generate income to help with the restoration. so, and that guidebook has been revised, revised, and revised. and you know, as you suggest, is sold today. perry: and there's a great story too, that she had the curator at the time, was writing the text for it, and jackie didn't like the way it was coming out, so she went to her friend... beschloss: felt it was going a little slowly. perry: it was, and she -- she went to arthur schlesinger. she wrote to him and said, would he help with the text. so, here, she had this harvard historian then in the end write the text, and then she wrote the introduction. swain: you referenced earlier her televised tour of the white house when this project was completed, and that it was a pr
bonanza for the administration. perry: it was. swain: what were the circumstances of the tour? who televised it? how many people watched? perry: cbs televised it. i think it was charles collingwood... beschloss: although i think it was shown on all networks. perry: it was. and by that time, there would have been -- well, certainly the two, and probably we were up to three by then, with abc, who were just coming online then. so, she goes throughout the white house. and remember, we're now talking about 90% of households having televisions. and even though it's in black and white, and we can't see her bright red dress on valentine's day, and even though, again, by today's standards, it's a bit stilted, people fell in love with it. they think there were about 56 million viewers. they think three out of four viewers watched it. one little boy wrote to her and said, "i really liked it." he said, "my dad was going to watch "maverick," a western at the time. but i talked him into watching this." and she even received a fan letter from -- from barbara bush, first -- future first lady. so, it went behind the iron curtain. it went to 106 countries around the world.
and she won a special emmy for it. so, it was a real high point of her first ladyship. beschloss: and deserved it. and also, you know, kennedy saw this, people loved it. he couldn't believe what he was seeing. you know, he thought he knew something about politics. and he would have thought -- and i think he said this privately -- you know, "here we have," you know, "my wife raising money, buying art and artifacts and furniture, interesting to us, but for most americans, this is going to seem very aesthete and very different from their way of living." it had exactly the opposite impact. it made people love this project that she had taken on. perry: and he did a cameo. perry: at the end. so, he comes in and does a little cold war vignette where he talks about how important the freedom of the united states is, and how important the white house is. beschloss: which she thought was one of his worst performances. one of their friends said... perry: it's a bit stilted, too. beschloss: one of their friends said, "i thought it was so great, i just cried when i watched the -- jackie's performance." and jack said, "yes, i cried when i saw my performance, too."
swain: and as you know, if you've been watching, we have a very robust web site: cspan.org/firstladies, where all of the videos of the programs are archived. but also, a number of other videos from historic sites from each first lady are accessible there. each week, we put a special item that you can see for the first lady being featured. and today, if you go to the site, you will see jacqueline kennedy's emmy -- her special emmy for the white house tour. while we're in this section talking about the white house historical association, i do want to mention, "the first ladies book," which you can also find there. it is a guide to the biographies of every first lady. it is available at cost. and if you're interested either in a souvenir of the series or learning more about the history of the women we've been profiling all year, there's a link there that you can find it. i think it's $12.95 or something -- along that line. but let's take another call. this is kathy. and kathy is watching us in san francisco. kathy: hi, thanks for the program. i've been enjoying it every
week. swain: thank you. kathy: i -- i actually wrote my thesis about jacqueline kennedy and her support of the fine arts. and i was wondering if you could talk a little bit on jackie's relationship with andrew milrowe, and how the american public actually -- if they like that relationship with him being a frenchman. and how he helped with the white house restoration. perry: i don't think he had a direct impact on the restoration, but certainly on... beschloss: except for taking her through versailles and showing her how it should be done. perry: giving her a model to follow. but certainly bringing the "mona lisa." it was. i would say in the oral history -- and michael might want to speak to this, i thought she was a bit more admiring of him than she seemed to indicate in the oral history. but she talks about the sadness that he had experienced when she met with him in 1961 in paris, that he and his wife had lost their two sons in a tragic car accident. and so, here he was meeting with her under those tragic circumstances. so, she admired him for that. she admired his literature, to be sure. and being francophilic about all
things. she definitely admired him. so, as we close out our discussion of her white house years, gary robinson wants to know, "what would jackie say she is most proud of in her white house years or her role after being first lady?" beschloss: well, she actually did say in the oral history, i think, or perhaps in a letter later on -- she said that she was certainly proud of the restoration. and she probably wouldn't have used the word "proud," because she probably would have said, "one of the things i did that i felt was most important." the other, she said, was something that gets almost no attention, she said at the time, and that is abu simbel. there's a very important egyptian historic site that was -- temples that were in danger of being eroded by the nile, that she actually worked with jfk to get money from congress to save, and did. and the result was that the egyptian government, which would have been nasser at the time, actually said, "all right. well, thank you, mrs. kennedy. we will send, you know, something of ours to the united
states in thanks." and it was a temple that she hoped would be built in washington. it finally wound up -- put at the metropolitan museum on fifth avenue in new york. and she saw it every morning because it was right outside her bedroom window in the apartment house she lived in. perry: and saving grand central station, too. beschloss: later on, yeah. beschloss: not as first lady. perry: exactly, but just the question then later in life, you know, with those, would have been some of the things she would have been proud of. and if she would have used that term, no doubt. beschloss: and she also drew a very strict line. she felt that the things that happened when her husband was president, everyone -- the american people and others -- were entitled to. she felt that things that happened before and after, they weren't. and there are some accounts of her destroying letters at the very end of her life with that in mind. swain: so, who was jacqueline bouvier? we want to spend a little bit of time to tell you about her early biography, and the interest that she developed as a young woman that she brought to the white house. to start that discussion, we're going to return to the kennedy library to learn a little bit about her early years as a
writer. (video clip) wagner: from a young age, jacqueline bouvier loved to write. she would often create poems as gifts for her parents on christmas and birthdays. she would write a poem and illustrate it. we have two early examples here from when she was about 10 years old. while at miss porter's school in connecticut, where she went to high school, she wrote a really wonderful essay. it's called, "be kind and do your share." and she says, "be kind and do your share. that's all there is to it." and she goes on about how helping others in life is so important, and how easy it is for us to say a kind word for someone, and all the difference it can make to that person. this scrapbook is called, "one special summer." after graduating from school, jackie's parents -- her mother and stepfather sent jackie and her sister, lee, on a summer through europe. and as a token of appreciation
for that gift, they collaborated together on this scrapbook to give to their parents to let them know what their adventures were. and it's a combination of snapshots that they took, handwritten descriptions of the different places they visited, the people they met. and these really wonderful, whimsical sketches done by jackie. in the fall of 1950, jacqueline bouvier entered vogue's very well known writing contest, the prix du paris contest. and displayed here, we have her handwritten application as a student from george washington university. she won the contest, and her two winning essays, one was actually a self-portrait, where i think she's wonderfully described herself as "tall, 5'7", with brown hair, a square face, and eyes so unfortunately far apart, that it takes three weeks to have a pair of glasses made with the bridge wide enough to fit over my nose."
and again, as an example, i think, of her love of writing and the power of words, she's asked in question three of the essay, "who are three people in history you wish you had known? " and the first two she mentions are charles baudelaire, the french poet, and oscar wilde, the author, in addition to that, sergei diaghilev, the russian ballet impresario. in the early 1950s, jacqueline bouvier was hired as the inquiring camera girl for the "washington times-herald." on display here is the camera she actually used as she went through the streets of washington, interviewing different people, asking questions, and creating columns. one column that we have on display here is somewhat prophetic, because she's interviewed vice president nixon and senator john f. kennedy, who of course, would be adversaries in the 1960 presidential campaign. and i think all these examples of her early writings, and she did write throughout her life,
but i think if her life had been maybe somewhat different, she would have been a writer of some kind, maybe even professionally. and as we know, in her later life, the last part of her life, she was a very prolific editor of books in new york city, working with several different authors on books of several different topics. swain: barbara perry, let's just put the basic facts of her biography on the table. where was she born, and to whom, and when? perry: sure. she was born in the hamptons in 1929, just before the stock market crash, in the summer of that year. her parents were john and janet bouvier. he had been an investment banker, and on wall street, but lost his savings in the stock market crash, but she continued to summer with her grandfather bouvier, she called "grampy jack," and he was the one who introduced her to reading and literature at such a young age. and she loved him dearly. and they would write poetry and memorize poetry together. her mother was a pretty strict disciplinarian, but both
sisters, lee and jackie grew up in a broken home. their parents separate when jackie's only seven, and then they divorce when she's 12, and it's a very bitter, acrimonious divorce, because her father was a womanizer, and somewhat of an alcoholic. swain: his nickname was black jack? beschloss: black jack. also the name of the horse in the funeral, coincidentally enough, november of 1963. she had this insecure childhood, and the interesting thing is that if you looked at her and didn't know any of this, you would've thought that she had just the most perfect early years and probably an heiress. her father was so short on money that when she was at farmington, in high school, she later said that sometimes she would worry that he would not be able to pay the tuition at the end of the term and she might have to leave. and so, she was able to -- you know, we were talking about where this strength of will came from. this is someone who, you know, lived in a way that was much
more you then 90% of human beings, but at the same time, had its difficulties. swain: struggled. her father struggled with alcoholism. beschloss: indeed. swain: but the extent of -- of the wealth in the background of her family is important to understand what she brought to the role that she played. so, where did the family's money come from? beschloss: well, her father's family money -- her father's family had been in finance, and it was the family money that was lost. her money -- her father -- her mother married an affluent man named hugh auchincloss, but he was not in the business of endowing his new wife's two children, so when jackie took on that job, we were just hearing about as the inquiring photographer, it was because she needed the salary. perry: but she also liked to work. beschloss: indeed. she was a worker. swain: hugh auchincloss brought the family to washington. so how did that affect her exposure to the city and how did she develop her affinity for this place? perry: well, michael had mentioned that she made her first trip to the white house when she was a pre-adolescent,
about 11, 12 years old and that was because her mother was coming to date hugh auchincloss who lived in northern virginia. so that's her -- her real introduction to washington, d.c. and then when her mother marries him in the early 1940s, jackie and her sister live with them at marywood, their northern virginia estate. beschloss: all republicans. perry: all republican family and then they summer up at newport at hammersmith farm. but that's her introduction to the culture of washington. and jackie kennedy would say her first trip at that time to the national art gallery was when she fell in love with art and the wonderful feeling it gave her to view art and sculpture. swain: well, he may not have wanted to support the family. but i just want to establish from everything you read that this was a life of privilege. beschloss: oh, she lived on this huge estate both in mclean, virginia and also in newport. but she was always sort of the poor relation. perry: the poor stepchild, as they say.
beschloss: i'm not making an argument that she lived a life of hardship given the way that most of human kind did live and does live now. but this was someone who felt that there were challenges. perry: and she didn't know what her future would be in terms of money except to marry well. beschloss: true swain: so to that point then how much of the attraction with john kennedy was the fact that his family was very, very wealthy. perry: well, i think it has to -- to be some of the attraction, certainly. and -- and it appears that it wasn't love at first sight and that there wasn't chemistry immediately because when they were first introduced at the -- the famous dinner party by the charlie bartletts in 1951, there were no sparks, really. he seemed to want to ask her out but supposedly when he went out with her, there was another beau waiting for her, at least another male friend waiting for her. he was stopped short and it took another year for them to -- to get together at another dinner party at the bartletts. beschloss: and then he later on said, you know, "i thought of marrying you from the first time i met you," and she said, "how
big of you." and he said, "typical jackie comment." swain: what was the age difference between the two? beschloss: he was born in 1917, she in 1929. perry: 12 years. beschloss: 12 years. swain: and the -- they met several times before. beschloss: she actually first met him on a train and she wrote about it. she said that, "this congressman with reddish-brown hair i met on the train." and i don't think she had ever even heard of him although already he was then in congress and written a best-selling book and had a father, joseph kennedy, who had been a rather famous ambassador to england. that was not her woo. perry: and he didn't remember, apparently... swain: next up, a call once again. this is -- is it areni? areni: areni. swain: areni, oh. nice to have you watching us in chicago. you're on the air. areni: hello. i have a question about mrs.
kennedy. what were her favorite hobbies? what did she like to do in her spare time? swain: all right. thank you. it sounds like we have another student watching tonight. can you tell us about yourself, areni? areni: well, i'm 12 years old and... beschloss: we're doing wonderfully with 12-year-olds tonight. thank you for calling. areni: i love history and i love watching channels like this, like learning new things every -- every time i turn on the t.v. i saw this channel and i decided to ask a question because i love history. beschloss: terrific. swain: well, thank you. you're sitting at a table full of people who love history tonight too so glad to have you in the fold. beschloss: i'm from chicago too so i'm particularly glad you called from chicago. barbara, do you want to answer the question? perry: yeah and how perfect to be 12 years old, just the same age as -- as jacqueline bouvier when she first went to the white house. swain: the question was her hobbies. perry: her hobbies. well, we've mentioned horseback riding, which was from the time she was able to walk, they put her in a saddle and she loved being in equestrian competitions. her mother was also a rider.
she loved all things canine as well. so often times in movies of the kennedys and pictures, you'll see her with dogs. beschloss: a lot of dogs. perry: in competition. lots of dogs around them often times, even in the white house though the president was allergic to cats and dogs and horses. and she loved, as we say, the quiet solitude of reading, writing poetry, drawing and art. so i would say those were all of her hobbies. and she started even younger than you doing those hobbies. swain: so introduction to john kennedy, one of our japanese viewers asks, "what was mrs. kennedy's relationship with president kennedy's siblings and siblings-in-law"? so how did she get along with the rest of the kennedy family? beschloss: well, i think at first, she found it hard and i'm particularly glad to have a japanese questioner given the fact that caroline kennedy is just about to go to tokyo as president obama's ambassador to japan. jackie kennedy was, to a great degree, an introvert.
she liked to read, she had been somewhat wounded when she was a child, she was not a huge extrovert and the kennedys famously are this hugely gregarious, extroverted family. she felt it took a while to get used to that. perry: it did. and her sisters-in-law or future sisters-in-law didn't particularly like the debutante way of speaking and -- and... beschloss: and she called them the "rah-rah girls." perry: that's right. so they were out playing touch football and she would've preferred to sit on the veranda at hyannis and read a book. swain: we have one more bit of video for you. this is from an interview, t.v. interview given to arlene francis of nbc talking about her life as the young wife of a senator. (begin video clip) arlene francis: i think probably being married to a senator would compare to being a doctor's wife because a senator must be on call at all times and you don't know what time he's coming home to dinner some of the time. will you tell us about what some of the things are that you have to do? jacqueline kennedy: i suppose it is like being married to a
doctor in that they have such late hours, they go away at a moment's notice, work late. francis: um-hum. and you are alone a good deal of the time then? jacqueline kennedy: yes. francis: are you active in any political way with committees or anything like that or is your job big enough just taking care of jack? jacqueline kennedy: (inaudible) (laughter) francis: i don't blame you. jacqueline kennedy: ah, now jack's come home. francis: now i notice you're extremely brighter in this shot. do you fix his breakfast for him? jacqueline kennedy: yes. francis: or coffee? then what does he do? does he tell you what goes on on his trips? jacqueline kennedy: you mean at breakfast? he usually reads about seven papers and runs out the door. francis: he likes jack too, huh? that's a lovely shot. but he is describing something to you, you know? he's not reading the paper there, is he? jacqueline kennedy: no, he's (inaudible)... (laughter)
francis: you do talk to her sometimes, don't you, senator? john kennedy: i do, i do. all the time. francis: and enjoy it, i'm sure. john kennedy: i do, i do. (end videotape) swain: what should we take away from this and how she's describing the early days of their marriage? beschloss: i think it is so fascinating. it's april of '57. in november of 1957, they had their first child, caroline. i guarantee you that if they did that scene a year later, they would not be posing with a dog. swain: was the relationship easy from the very beginning or was it tough getting her adjusted to his many travels, being on the road campaigning? perry: it was very tough. and we've mentioned, of course, the medical problems that she had with the child bearing, that he had with his back and his other ailments. but he was gone so often. and they also didn't have their own home. they tried hickory hill, which famously then became the robert f. kennedy homestead, with his wife ethel and eventually 11 children living there. but jackie and jack had bought that. they thought to start their family. and then when she began to have these miscarriages and still-born children, it was too
painful. so they moved back into town. but they did not really have their own home that they had bought and owned and stayed in for any time until 1957, in preparation for caroline's birth on n street in georgetown. swain: one of the small facts i realize is that she actually built hickory hill, which is across the river in mclean, virginia. perry: well, i don't think -- it was already there. in fact, it had been owned by general mcclellan, i believe, in the civil war. so the mansion had been there at hickory hill. swain: but we always associate it with the rfk family. perry: right, because jack and jackie sold it to bobby after they realized that they were not going to be able to fill it with children. and she had spent all of her time in '55 and '56 decorating it, and then only to lose these children. beschloss: with the nursery. perry: and with the nursery and with special shelves for jack, so that he wouldn't have to bend over or reach too high. and it just became a sad symbol. plus she was so isolated there. at least if they were in georgetown where they first rented a home and when they first were married, she could go
back and forth to capitol hill and take him lunch and she was just so completely isolated there, that they left. swain: a facebook viewer wants to know if there was any known medical medication for all of her problem pregnancies? perry: smoking, we think, could have been. you mentioned that she was a chain smoker, we think, several packs a day and that that, of course, if it didn't lead to the problems with the actual pregnancies themselves, the lung conditions that some of her children were born with, john, jr., and then patrick, who succumbed to it. so that could have been a part of it. they also think possibly that the president's -- some of his medical conditions, perhaps even stds, could have lead to problems with pregnancy. swain: dave murdock on twitter. did jackie share john's drive to be a president or was she comfortable as a senator's wife? beschloss: i think she was comfortable as a senator's wife. and she felt threatened by the notion that she would become first lady. i once, decades ago, talked to
franklin roosevelt's son, fdr, jr. who was a friend of both of them. and he said that jackie essentially panicked after jack won the presidency in 1960. she didn't expect it. she was terrified by its adverse effect on their marriage and their family life for him to be president and for her the first lady -- to be first lady. and jfk said to fdr, jr., please talk to jackie and tell her that it's not going to be that bad, which he did. swain: we have 20 minutes -- less than 20 minutes left and a long post-white house-life to cover. and we're going to that as best we can in a short time. to start us off, i want to go back to a 1964 video clip. actually, a film clip in those days. and this is a message to the nation about all the condolences messages that came into the white house. let's watch. [video clip] jacqueline kennedy: i want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of messages, nearly 800,000 in all,
which my children and i received over the past few weeks. the knowledge of the affection in which my husband was held by all of you, has sustained me. and the warmth of these tributes is something i shall never forget. whenever i can bear to, i read them. all his bright light gone from the world. all of you who have written to me know how much we all loved him and that he returned that love in full measure. it is my greatest wish that all of these letters be acknowledged. they will be, but it will take a long time to do so, but i know you will understand. each and every message is to be treasured, not only for my children, but so that future generations will know how much our country and people in other nations thought of him. your letters will be placed with his papers in the library to be erected in his memory along the charles river in boston,
massachusetts. swain: she talks about the establishment of the library. so, can you both talk about what jacqueline kennedy did to preserve and enhance the legacy of john kennedy's presidency? beschloss: well, it did start with the library. jfk really, about a month before the assassination, went to harvard, saw a football game against columbia. also looked at what was going to be the site of his presidential library on the boston side of the charles, across the river from most of harvard. so, she very quickly began talking to his friends and aides about what kind of exhibit should be in the library. she started raising money for it. and she also began thinking about who should be the architect. and most people would've probably found an established architect like edward durell stone, who did the kennedy center here in washington, and was known for doing government
buildings in many cases, in my view, of surpassing ugliness and massiveness. she instead chose i.m. pei, who is famous now, but at that point was very little known because she thought that, you know, he was much more in the spirit of jfk who was young and had not been that well-known himself. perry: and she'd also, speaking of architects, she had been friends, as had the president, with john carl warnecke and in fact she dated him for awhile after the president's death, and he had helped her with the saving of lafayette square and putting up low-rise brick buildings that blended in with lafayette square, and then he also... beschloss: and he also designed the grave. perry: exactly. then he designed the gravesite, and she worked very hard with him on that as well, but as michael said, she -- after much discussion, chose i.m. pei. swain: well, cathy lens-hudson wants to ask, given jacqueline kennedy's interest in history and scholarship, i find it intriguing that bits of her life are still under wraps at the kennedy library. please elaborate on this, as i understand her possible interest in protecting her children, but
i find the dates far into the future a bit extreme. beschloss: she had a great interest in history, and she also had a very great interest in privacy. and as a matter of fact, when caroline kennedy was thinking about, you know, whether this oral history that i worked on and that we've been talking about should be opened, two years ago they looked for a piece of paper, and it turned out that she had not left a piece of paper saying that perhaps this should be closed for 100 years, which some people, but she did tend to err on the side of these things should be closed for a longer time rather than a shorter time. and from my experience, we're talking about this a little bit before the program, political leaders and their families tend to overdo it in keeping things closed. think that things will be sensitive and damaging sometimes, to be opened, than they really will turn out to be. lbj would be horrified that his tapes were opened, especially given some of his language, and would be shocked to find that many of those conversations that
he thinks you know, sort of show him as sort of an uncouth backwoodsman are those that actually help americans to think this was actually a guy who was sort of cool. perry: and the good news is, for the writer, that the kennedy library's working on the papers. they've received grants and donations to process them. they have released and they did for the 1962 to 2012 anniversary, 50th anniversary of the white house tour, they have begun to release mrs. kennedy's papers as they relate to the restoration, and since i had to write my book without even that available, if people are interested, arthur schlesinger's papers are a wonderful cache of mrs. kennedy's papers in the sense that she wrote to him so frequently. and he was a historian, so he saved everything in alphabetical order. beschloss: and his office was in the so-called "first lady's wing" of the white house. perry: in the east wing. swain: dan is watching in san diego. hi, dan. what's your question? dan: good evening. just one comment, and then a quick question. the comment -- ms. perry didn't
understand how important the zapruder film was, or its -- showing it in high school. as a 40-year high school history teacher, i can tell you that students in high school, this is probably -- i think they associate this young president to being in their lives also as a young man. i know students did in that time. and since then, it's kind of been that image that he was such a young, dynamic man. the question is the videotape showed it at the library -- what was the relationship with the nixons -- either president nixon or pat nixon -- and mrs. kennedy after she left the white house? thank you again for a great series. beschloss: the relationship was better than one might think. jackie kennedy found appalling the idea that she would ever again have to return to the white house after 1963. she thought it would be much too painful. she told her secret service agents in washington, "drive in a way that i will never have to see the white house, because it'll make me too upset. i'll start crying again."
one exception, 1970 -1971, her and jfk's portraits were painted by the artist aaron shikler. they were about to be displayed in the nixon white house. the nixons said, "why don't you come down and see them quietly." she felt that she owed it to jfk to do that, so she brought her children. that was a totally off-the-record visit. they had dinner. and she wrote to president nixon afterwards. she said, "a moment that i had always dreaded" -- meaning returning to the white house -- "turned out to be one of the most important days i've ever spent with my children." so, she was grateful to nixon for that. in later years, she was not too happy with nixon after -- particularly during watergate. it came out the number of things that president nixon's people tried to do to damage the reputation and image of president kennedy. swain: in 1968, she saw her brother-in-law, robert kennedy, assassinated. the two were very close, as i understand it. perry: they were. thank goodness she wasn't in los
angeles for that... swain: yeah, i didn't mean it literally, but... perry: right. but had to go through that yet again. and, yes, they had been very close. swain: how concerned was she about security for herself and her children after? perry: oh, terribly concerned after that. and she supposedly said that, you know, "they're killing kennedys. my children could be next." and so, once again, financial security and physical security became so important to her. and surely, that was part of the attraction to mr. onassis. beschloss: four months after rfk's death, that's when she married aristotle onassis. swain: and what happened to the public's perception of jacqueline kennedy after she married him? beschloss: she was pulled off the pedestal. people were outraged. probably many people were outraged that she would marry anyone at all, rather than be an eternal widow, but particularly, to marry someone who was this much older and who was not an american, and who was under some suspicion by the united states government in some of his financial activities.
one person said, "she has gone from prince charming to caliban." swain: do we know if it was a happy relationship? perry: i think of something that her sister said not too many years ago about someone saying, "how could she have even been attracted to such a man after having been married to jack kennedy? "and her sister, lee radziwill said -- who had, by the way, had also had a romance with him prior to her sister's -- said... beschloss: meaning onassis. perry: onassis, yes. not her brother-in-law. and she said, "he was really quite charismatic." and she said the way he moved and the way he looked. and he might not have been a -- you know, a typical gq representation of a beautiful, attractive man, but she said that he was. and she also said, you know, jackie liked all things greek. she liked greek mythology. she liked greek poetry. she also found great comfort in the tragic poets of greece that she introduced brother-in-law robert to. so, we can't say that she wasn't attracted to him at all, but
certainly the money and the physical security -- as she pointed out, he had his own island, skorpios. swain: how long did the marriage last? perry: from '68 to when he died in 1975. but they were somewhat estranged. beschloss: she would say that the marriage was... quite good until january of '73, when aristotle onassis' son died in an accident. and... perry: and he blamed her... beschloss: ... he felt that, you know... perry: ... as sort of a cursed person... beschloss: yeah. perry: ... coming into the family. swain: she came back to new york city? beschloss: she did. and something that many people would not have expected -- she decided to really go to work and get a real job. she became an editor first at viking, and later on at doubleday. and this was not just someone who was there for show business and acquiring books. she actually edited with great intensity. her authors were hugely loyal to her. and so, for the last years of her life, by all accounts, she was actually in certain ways happier than perhaps, you know, often she had ever been in life. and plus, she had a relationship
with a fine man, maurice tempelsman, who -- i think that this was a relationship of equals. it's very different from certainly her second marriage, and perhaps her first. swain: and how close did she remain with her children during this time? perry: oh, very close. beschloss: very. perry: always close with them. always so proud of them. i think her brother-in-law senator edward kennedy's eulogy talks about how, whenever she would speak of them, her face would light up. beschloss: and she once said in -- and this gives you so much of her mindset -- her husband had been -- meaning jfk -- had been very close to the british prime minister harold macmillan. and when she was in her deepest grief in 1964-65, she wrote macmillan and said, "if i raise my children well, that will be my vengeance against the world." so, she really felt that she had achieved that vengeance. swain: her mother-in-law, rose kennedy, lived a very, very long life. beau hamlin wants to know how did jackie get along with rose kennedy, especially... perry: thank you. i am going to take that. beschloss: this is a barbara question. perry: it is.
i just published a biography of rose kennedy. beschloss: a fine one, too. perry: thank you, michael -- this past summer. they seemed to get along to begin with, as she did with ambassador kennedy. but she seemed much closer to her father-in-law than to her mother-in-law. but she wrote very diplomatically to her future mother-in-law after she met her at hyannis, and said, "dear mrs. kennedy, thank you so much for all your good advice," because certainly, rose kennedy liked to mete out plenty of advice. and one of her favorite pieces of advice to her family and to anyone was to stand at an angle when one is having a photograph taken, because it makes one look... beschloss: slimmer. perry: slimmer. so, i'll turn now. so, jackie said, "thank you, mrs. kennedy, for teaching me that lesson." and so, she -- she wrote very kindly to her. after the assassination, there were some issues about whether jackie would come back for the opening and the dedication of the kennedy center. and she finally decided that she just couldn't. she couldn't face that. she couldn't face being, as she said, the widow of kennedy for the rest of her life.
she wanted to be with her children. it was just too painful. and rose, of course, happily filled in for her. but you could see in their letters that there was a little bit of tension. but rose really appreciated that she would be invited often to be with mrs. kennedy and john and caroline. and she got along seemingly very well with aristotle onassis. beschloss: and also, when a lot of people were going after jackie for having married onassis, rose kennedy, for a variety of reasons, stuck up for her. "jack would have wanted her to be happy." perry: that's right. swain: and how -- one viewer asks -- and maybe this is what you've just answered -- but you described her as being homeless after the death of president kennedy. and they wanted to know why the family didn't give her more support, bring her into the fold, give her a place to live? perry: well, she certainly had money. she had about $150,000 from the kennedy trust that were coming her way, and i understand bobby chipped in another $50,000 or so. she had about $10,000 in a
pension, as it were. beschloss: and this is mid-60s dollars. it's a lot of money now, but particularly then. perry: have to times that by perhaps 10 or so for today's dollars. again, by her standards, perhaps that wasn't enough. but in terms of just a physical place to live, she said in the famous interview with theodore white, the camelot interview, the week after the assassination, she said, "i want to live with my children in the places i lived with jack: georgetown, and with the kennedys on the cape." so, no doubt she could've gone to the cape to live at hyannis, but instead she went to georgetown, and again, averell harriman loaned her his home and then she bought a home across the street. but it was inundated with tourist buses and tourists and photographers peeping into her windows and coming up on the porch, and she just couldn't bear it. and so, after a relative few months, she took off for new york and spent the rest of her life there, except for the time she was with onassis. swain: holly hon on facebook. "did mrs. kennedy have to testify for the warren
commission?" beschloss: she did. in june of 1964, earl warren and one or two others from the commission came to her parlor in georgetown and asked her about the motorcade. it was brief. i think it was less than a half an hour. but she did have to testify, and that's on the record, and some of her physical description of the president's wounding was kept from the public for some time because it was too graphic, but it's now available. swain: other questions asked here. did she ever talk about what her own theories were? the theories continue to this day about the lone assassin, lee harvey oswald, or whether or not there was a larger conspiracy. did she ever espouse an opinion on this? beschloss: not in any source that i would trust. have you? perry: i haven't either, and certainly not for public consumption. beschloss: right. perry: again, she kept her counsel in all things. swain: just a few minutes left. don is in colorado springs. hi don. don: hi. very grateful for your show. the kennedys were very inspiring to me.
but my question is how important was jacqueline, or mrs. kennedy's catholic faith to her? swain: thank you very much. both kennedys were catholics. how important was it to them? beschloss: i think she would, and i think barbara would -- i'll just begin on this, she certainly considered herself catholic throughout her life. she had some trouble when she remarried a divorced man, aristotle onassis, outside the faith, although was supported in doing that at least to some extent by the family cardinal, richard, cardinal cushing. i think one of the toughest things, at least i find, i don't know how you feel, barbara, but in understanding public figures, two things. number one, do you ever really get to the real truth of someone's marriage, if they're married? and number two, do you really get to the well -- to the bottom of what their religious feeling was? sometimes, presidents and first ladies exaggerate that. sometimes, there's more than appeared on the surface.
barbara perry : well, and as michael pointed out so well, through the oral history, that she was really having her doubts about her faith in those months after the assassination. she says, "i believe at this moment that god is an unjust god," she said. perry: exactly. and she talks about her husband jack praying perfunctorily at night. beschloss: like a little boy, she'd say. perry: a little boy, and maybe a superstition. beschloss: and she says he did it essentially just in case there is a god. perry: the pascal's wager, they'd say. but she also apparently spoke to a father confessor at georgetown university, and even mentioned that she was having suicidal feelings after the assassination, but decided that that would not be the way for her to go. beschloss: and with children. perry: : and with children. swain: so, we're going to close here with jacqueline kennedy's voice one last time, from the oral histories, and this talks about her white house years, as we finish up here. let's listen. (begin audio clip) jacqueline kennedy: once we were in the white house, i thought that i could get out. and i just can't tell you how
depressive the strain of the white house can be. i could go out and whenever jack saw it getting me down a little bit, he'd really send me away. not exactly but he'd say, "why don't you go up to new york or go see your sister in italy," and then he sent me to greece, which wasn't -- you know, which was for a sad reason this year but he thought i was getting depressed after losing patrick. but always, he'd -- i thought i can go out. i can go to a restaurant in new york or walk down the street and look in an antique shop or go to a night club. i used to worry about going into the white house. then you found that -- you know, it was really the happiest time of my life. (end audio clip) swain: you used to worry about going to the white house and then i found out they were the happiest years of my life. and closing comments and reflecting on her time there as first lady? beschloss: i think that was genuine and i think here's a case where she had a much bigger impact as first lady in all
sorts of areas that we've talked about tonight but they may not have been the ones that people thought about at the time she served. swain: and you suggest that she was a transformational first lady? perry: um-hum. swain: the stage for those to follow. how so? perry: i think so. just very much the way her generation was a bridge between traditional wives and mothers and the post women's liberation of the modern era. i would say that's exactly the way she was as first lady, that there were traditional first ladies immediately preceding her and afterwards they much more modern, much more full partners with their husbands and picking a particular policy to work on. swain: michael beschloss's book of "the jacqueline kennedy tapes" is widely available and you can also get the set with the tapes and listen to her in her own voice. perry: it's wonderful. everyone should have it. swain: barbara perry's "jacqueline kennedy: first lady of the new frontier" also widely available. thanks to both of you for being at the table tonight. beschloss: and thank you for everything you're doing. swain: thank you.
beschloss: for this series, susan. it's just been splendid. swain: thanks. it's been -- it's been a joy for all of us to learn along the way. have a good evening and thank you for being with us. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015]
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