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.