John-John’s journey! John F. Kennedy Jr. accomplished a great deal before his life was tragically cut short.
The son of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy was born in Washington, D.C., on November 25, 1960, two weeks after his father was elected the 35th president of the United States. The Kennedys, who also shared daughter Caroline Kennedy, moved into the White House when JFK Jr. was only 8 weeks old.
As a result of his dad’s career (and that of relatives including uncles Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy), John Jr. grew up in the spotlight.
“There’s probably no one who’s ever walked this earth that was the focus of such media attention their entire life,” close friend Steven M. Gillon wrote in the 2019 biography America’s Reluctant Prince: The Life of John F. Kennedy Jr.
Much of the interest in the political scion began after November 22, 1963, when JFK was assassinated in Dallas at age 46. Three days later, on John-John’s 3rd birthday, the president’s son touched the nation when he saluted his father’s casket en route to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The heartbreaking image, taken by Stan Stearns, went on to become one of the most iconic photographs in history.
After John Sr.’s assassination, Jackie, Caroline and JFK Jr. moved away from the U.S. capital and into an apartment in New York City. She later married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
John Jr. attended private schools in Manhattan before completing his high school education at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts. He went on to study at Brown University and ultimately received his J.D. degree from the New York University School of Law in May 1989.
In the midst of his legal career, JFK Jr. developed an interest in journalism and wrote for The New York Times. He launched his own monthly magazine, George, in September 1995 with Michael J. Berman.
“JFK’s friends would tell Junior that his dad always wanted to be a publisher, that he never wanted to go into politics,” All the Presidents’ Children author Doug Wead tells Us Weekly. “So JFK Jr.’s great moment was publishing a magazine because of his father’s dream.”
Through the years, John-John’s good looks also attracted much attention — and led to many high-profile relationships and flings. He was linked to actresses and models such as Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford and Sarah Jessica Parker before dating Daryl Hannah from the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s. He eventually settled down with Calvin Klein publicist Carolyn Bessette, whom he married on September 21, 1996.
Like his father, JFK Jr. met an early death. While flying to his cousin Rory Kennedy’s wedding on July 16, 1999, the 38-year-old lawyer’s plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, killing him, his wife and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette.
“JFK Jr. was a kind and brilliant man,” Denis Reggie, who photographed the Kennedy-Bessette wedding, tells Us. “He was charismatic and strong and impacted every life that he came into.”
Scroll down to see JFK Jr.’s life in photos.
The president enjoyed quality time with his son in the Oval Office of the White House.
JFK Jr. saluted his dad’s coffin ahead of the politician’s funeral.
The future attorney delivered his first major speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
John Jr. and then-girlfriend Sally Munro, whom he met at Brown, spent Labor Day at his family’s iconic compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
Junior went for a run through Central Park with Madonna amid dating rumors.
The lawyer spoke to members of the press before his first day of work at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
John Jr. started dating Hannah after she attended his aunt Lee Radziwill’s 1988 wedding. They reportedly broke up in 1994 but stayed in each other’s lives throughout much of the ‘90s.
Ten years after making his acting debut in a small production at New York’s Irish Theater, JFK Jr. appeared in an episode of Murphy Brown titled “Altered States.”
John-John announced the launch of George during a press conference in Manhattan. The magazine’s sales declined less than two years later after he and cofounder Berman had a falling out. It folded in 2001.
John Jr. married Carolyn on Cumberland Island, Georgia, after repeatedly denying rumors that they were engaged.