Four months after her husband's assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy gave a series of candid interviews to historian Arthur Schleshinger, Jr. Her daughter Caroline Kennedy released the interview tapes -- eight hours of audio -- in conjunction with the oral history in book form on Wednesday.
1. She pronounced her first name Jack-leen, the French way.
2. Speaking of French, Jackie Kennedy spoke three foreign languages -- Spanish, French, and Italian -- fluently. Here she is in Mexico addressing an audience in Spanish, while her husband looks proudly on: (Continued after the jump)
3. While JFK was President, John and Jackie Kennedy had a third child, a son named Patrick, who was born five weeks premature and died two days later. Jackie said her husband, who adored children, was shattered by the loss. He came back from Boston to me in the hospital and he walked in the morning about 8 in my room, and just sobbed and put his arms around me, she said.
4. Jackie Kennedy was not a huge fan of Lydon Johnson or his wife, Ladybird Johnson. She told Schleshinger that her husband feared an instance in which LBJ would inherit the Presidenency. Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president? she quotes JFK as saying.
5. Kennedy was very concerned with the way her reputation impacted her husband's image. Jackie was thrilled when she gained the approval of the American public after JFK took office -- but for the sake of her husband. Suddenly, everything that'd been a liability before - your hair, that you spoke French, that you didn't just adore to campaign, and you didn't bake bread with flour up to your arms - you know, everybody thought I was a snob and hated politics, she told Mr. Schlesinger of her pre-White House image. I was so happy for Jack after that changed, especially now that it was only three years together that he could be proud of me then, Jackie said. Because it made him so happy - it made me so happy. So those were our happiest years.
6. This may not come as a huge shock to those familiar with Jackie Kennedy, but she was hardly a feminist -- in the tapes she described her marriage as rather terribly Victorian or Asiatic. She believed that a woman's pupose was to make a peaceful and happy home for her husband -- and she performed her housewife duties with relish, even when the pressure was on. Sometimes at the end of the day you just felt one jump away from tears, but you wanted to be so cheerful for Jack when he came home. Here is the First Lady giving an exclusive White House tour to CBS broadcaster Charles Collingwood:
7. Kennedy came to dislike Martin Luther King, Jr. -- but for a very specific reason: She was told that he was disrespectful at JFK's funeral. He made fun of Cardinal Cushing and said that he was drunk at it [the funeral], Kennedy told Shleshinger. And things about they almost dropped the coffin. I just can't see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man's terrible, Kennedy said in a newly-released book featuring transcripts of the Kennedy tapes. Also an issue was that King reportedly set up an orgy while staying at a hotel in 1963 for the March on Washington.
8. Jackie was willing to put herself and her children in grave danger in order to stay by her husband's side during the Cuban missile crisis. If anything happens, we're all going to stay right here with you, she recounted saying to JFK in October 1962. I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do, too - than live without you.
9. Kennedy believed politics were strictly a man's game. I think women should never be in politics. We're just not suited to it. (This comment is particularly interesting, as Jackie is believed to have had significant influence over her husband's personnel decisions.)
10. Despite her own lineage, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy -- who studied at the Sorbonne in Paris -- disliked the French. I loathe the French, she said in the tapes. They're really not very nice; they're all for themselves.
Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, a book compilation of the oral history, was released Wednesday.