This weekend, moviegoers will get a chance to peer into the private life of one of America's most famous public figures. The biopic Jackie - starring Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis - promises to offer an intimate look at the enigmatic woman who redefined what it means to be first lady of the United States.
But no one can tell the whole story of such a complex figure. And the movie will no doubt have to leave some interesting tidbits of Jackie trivia out of the film’s final cut. So to get a better sense of the woman behind the legend, we've put together a list of five things you probably didn’t know about the iconic First Lady.
1. Classroom Hell-raiser
As First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was known for her unflappable composure. But as a child, she was a handful. According to her biography at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Bouvier was quite a troublemaker in class. Miss Platt - one of her teachers - once called Jackie "a darling child, the prettiest little girl, very clever, very artistic, and full of the devil."
She even received a tough scolding from her school's headmistress one year. "Jacqueline was given a D in Form because her disturbing conduct in her geography class made it necessary to exclude her from the room," a report card once read.
Hopefully the Portman movie offers some background on her "disturbing conduct."
2. Magazine Editor
In 1951, a 21-year-old Jackie Bouvier was hired as junior editor of Vogue. The position involved working for six months in the magazine's Manhattan office and then another six months in Paris. But she didn't stick with the job that long. Here's how Vogue summarized her brief career with the company.
"While she was well-suited for the role due to her degree in French literature, Jackie quit by mid-morning on her first day, reportedly because she thought Vogue’s female-dominated environment would hinder her chances of meeting the marriage material she was looking for. Perhaps she knew exactly what she was doing, as she went on to date then-Senator John F. Kennedy in her next job as a columnist at the Washington Times-Herald."
Later in life, Jackie resumed her writing career by working as an editor for Viking Press.
3. State Decorator
We owe the White House as we know it to the former first lady. During her tenure, Jackie launched an ambitious restoration project that involved refurnishing rooms with objects of historical importance, sprucing up the rose garden and hanging American art throughout 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"I feel so strongly that the White House should have as fine a collection of American pictures as possible," she said of the project. "It's so important... the setting in which the presidency is presented to the world, to foreign visitors. The American people should be proud of it. We have such a great civilization. So many foreigners don't realize it. I think this house should be the place we see them best."
4. Emmy Award Winner
To share the White House restoration with the American people, Jackie took viewers on a televised tour of the presidential residence on Valentine's Day, 1962. Over 50-million people tuned in to check out the commander-in-chief's digs. And the first lady won an Emmy Award for the production.
Here's a clip from the hour-long documentary.
5. Canine Cosmonaut
After meeting the Kennedys in 1961, U.S.S.R. First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev sent the first family a special present - a dog named Pushinka. And this wasn't any ordinary puppy. Pushinka was the offspring of Strelka, one of the dogs that the Soviet Union sent into orbit during the Space Race. So there was a soft side to the Cold War after all...unless Pushinka was a highly trained Russian spy.
Who would suspect such a cuddly pup of espionage?
6. Redefining FLOTUS
Jackie Kennedy did more as First Lady of the United States than redecorate the White House and domesticate Soviet dogs. She was arguably one of the most politically engaged presidential wives in American history, taking a role in diplomacy as well as the funeral for John F. Kennedy following his assassination in 1963. In some ways, you could say that America already has had a female president.
But we'll let the movie tell that part of her story.
Banner image: Kennedy and the President watching the America's Cup Race (wikipedia.org)