Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (2000)




Director:     David Burton Morris. 

Starring:     Joanne Whalley (Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis), Tim Matheson (John F. Kennedy), Tom Skerritt (Joseph P. 'Joe' Kennedy), Frances Fisher (Janet Lee Bouvier Auchincloss), Andrew McCarthy (Robert 'Bobby' Kennedy), Philip Baker Hall (Aristotle Onassis), Diane Baker (Rose Kennedy), Jerry Adler (Maurice Tempelsman), Chuck Shamata (Pierre Salinger), Fred Ward (John Vernon 'Black Jack' Bouvier III), Bronwen Booth (Lee Bouvier), Jennifer Van Dyck (Caroline Kennedy), Jeffrey Pierce (John F. Kennedy Jr.), Jacob Richmond (Edward 'Ted' Kennedy), David Francis (Hugh D'Auchincloss).

TV movie of wife of President John Kennedy




Spoiler Warning:

Jackie Kennedy is at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia on ground that once belonged to the estate of General Robert E. Lee.  She sits there by the eternal light and the headstone of her husband, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917-1963. 

In the car going back, she speaks to her good friend and personal bookkeeper Maurice of how she thought she would not survive the death of her husband.

Flashback.  Jackie attends a cocktail party.  She admires the paintings on display in the house so much that she stands there looking at them.  John Kennedy comes up to her and asks her what she thinks of the painting.  Jackie says it's rather good. He then introduces himself and she tells him her name.  She says they met before about a year ago.  John says that they were interrupted by her fiancÚ.  He says he hopes the man is not around and Jackie says the engagement was canceled.  She tells him:  "You think you're very charming, don't you?"  He says:  "I do try my damnest."

While dancing with John on another occasion, Jackie says that she is the Enquiring Camera Girl for the Times Herald.  She writes a column where she asks people questions and she takes their photo.  Suddenly, John is hit with back pain and he asks Jackie to help him over to the table.  He says he hurt his back and aggravated it during World War II.  Sometimes the pain is so bad that he needs crutches to get up and down the steps of the capitol.   He adds that with the help of some buddies he has been able to keep this out of the press.   After all, he is running for the senate of the State of Massachusetts. 

When Jackie gets home her mother asks her about the date.  Lovely, thank you.  And now mom begins with the criticisms of the Kennedys.  John is a notorious confirmed bachelor; and his father Joe Kennedy was a notorious bootlegger [actually it was his maternal grandfather, Honey Fitzgerald]; Joe Kennedy also had the famous actress Gloria Swanson as his mistress.  In short, mom says Jackie can definitely do better than Jack Kennedy.  She says:  "Stop worrying.  I have no intention of marrying him."

Jack is in Boston politicking.  He telephones Jackie and asks her to come up to Hyannis Port on Cape Cod where thousands of Kennedys will be gathering at his parent's house for a clam bake.  She says it sounds terrifying, but she will sleep on it. 

Jackie comes to Hyannis Port. She talks to Rose Kennedy, Jack's mother, who asks her does she know everyone yet?  She says she thinks she knows Jack's sisters:  Eunice (later Eunice Shriver), Jean and Pat.  And Ethel Kennedy is Bobby's wife.  Teddy is the youngest brother.  Now Rose calls over her husband Joe Kennedy.  Joe comes over to greet Jackie because they had met before.  He tells her to give his regards to her father Black Jack Bouvier. 

Joe and Jack talk politics.  He is running against incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge.  Joe says that Sherman Fox has asked him for a loan of $500,000 dollars and, in return, his newspaper will endorse John.  He then tells Jack that he better get himself married or he can kiss the dream of the presidency goodbye.  The country will not elect a Catholic, bachelor president.  "Maybe one or the other, but not both."

Jack calls Jackie to tell her that he is the new junior senator from Massachusetts.  They go to the inaugural ball for Eisenhower and it's pretty dull. 

Jackie brings a nice lunch for Jack.  She tells him that her paper is sending her to London to cover the coronation.  And she has been offered a job with Vogue magazine in Paris. 

This news upsets Jack so while in a taxi with Jackie he says:  "Well I just wondered whether you might be interested in marrying me."  She asks if he is asking her to marry him?  He says:  "I am."  She says yes. 

Jackie shows her mother Janet and sister Lee how she looks in her wedding dress.  The women like the dress, but mother asks Jackie what if her father, an alcoholic, is not able to perform the task of leading Jackie down the aisle?  Jackie says he will be able to do it and she doesn't want to discuss the matter any further. 

A couple of old pals of Black Jack Bouvier come to see him and they bring the liquor with them.

The couple are to be married September 12, 1953, at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island.  At the wedding, Jackie's mother says that her father is said to be drunk and he can't make it to the wedding.  Jackie tells her mother that she will never forgive her for this.  She suspects some foul play stirred up by her mother. 

Black Jack's buddies are still plying him with liquor despite Black Jack saying that he has to go to the wedding. 

So Jackie has to be walked down the aisle by a maternal uncle. 

Jackie meets her father at a restaurant.  She complains that Jack works such long hours.  And when he is not working, he's in Massachusetts. 

Jackie has been smoking a lot.  She tells her sister that she's nervous.  Jackie says John and her fight a lot, especially about money.  Jack says she is spending too much money on redecorating the town house.  Furthermore, they have absolutely nothing in common.  She is alone almost every weekend.  They have almost no home life at all.  Lee asks what about Jack's other women?  Jackie says he doesn't have any other women.  Lee basically tells her to wise up.  Her friends are always telling her how Jack is out on the town with various beautiful women draped over his arm.  Jackie replies:  "It's just gossip Lee.  I don't listen to it and you shouldn't either."

Jackie is getting fed up with Jack.  He stayed out all last night.  He says those long-winded southern senators just kept on talking late into the night.  Jack apologies a couple of times.  Jackie puts her cup down hard on its saucer. 

Jackie is looking for Jack at a party and sees that he is really flirting with a nice-looking woman. 

Jack comes back from Massachusetts and heads directly to his office without calling Jackie.  She has to hear from Ethel that he is back.  Jack says he had no time, but Jackie tells him he had time enough to telephone his brother Bobby.  Jack admits he should have called her.  Now Jackie asks about her husband's back problems.  He says he needs another back operation.  With his Addison's disease, they only give him a 50-50 chance of surviving the operation.  [Addison's disease is a rare, chronic endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce sufficient steroid hormones. It is characterized by a number of relatively nonspecific symptoms, such as abdominal pain and weakness.]  He says if he doesn't have the operation he will have to go through life as a cripple and he's not going to do that.  He's going to have the operation. 

Joe talks to Jackie about Jack.  He admits that his son in not an easy man and he knows the two of them are having a hard time of it.  Jackie frankly tells her father-in-law that she does not know if her marriage is going to work.  She is not happy.  Joe asks if she is leaving John?  She says not while he's not well.  Joe responds:  "A divorce would ruin Jack.  You know that."  Jackie says if they stay together, they could ruin each other.  She says she had an unhappy childhood and she won't have her own children growing up like that. 

Joe says he will give her one million dollars to stay in the marriage.  Jackie is a bit shocked and says she can't deal with this right now.  Joe says it will give her security and independence.  Jackie says if she stays with Jack, it will be because she wants to and nothing else.  She walks away from Joe. 

Flashback.  Jackie remembers back to her childhood and the fights her mother and father had.  Black Jack failed to pay their taxes of $64,000 dollars.  Jack says that his wife spends all his money on clothing and jewelry, while she says her husband drinks and gambles all their money away.  He squanders their money on whores and women. 

Black Jack tells his daughter Jackie that sometimes a married couple stop getting along with each other and her mother and he have decided that he should live somewhere else.  Jackie tells her father:  "Don't let her chase you away."   He says he has to go, but promises to see her all the time. 

Janet Bouvier and Hugh D. Auchincloss wed in a private ceremony.  Auchincloss was heir to the Standard Oil fortune.  The family moves into a huge mansion. 

The sisters go see their father on their regular Friday visits.  Black Jack is with a woman.  He forgot about Friday.  Jackie says school is going fine, but Lee says that Jackie had to see the head mistress three times.  Jackie stole cookies from the kitchen, deliberately spilled syrup on one of her teacher's arms and for smoking in the lavatory.  The woman with Jack has now dressed and comes out to say goodbye to everyone.  Jackie says that the woman has a rather cheap appearance.  Black Jack tells her:  "Men aren't perfect, Jackie.  It will only break your heart if you expect them to be."

Back to the present.   John is still recuperating from his back operation when Jackie says she has an idea for him to write a book.  He could write about fearless politicians who buck the tide.  Men who stood up for what they believed in, no matter what the personal political cost.  She even has a title:  Profiles in Courage.  Many people worked on the book, but Jack worked on it too, so the book gets published.  [I have read the book and enjoyed it very much.]

Jack is considering positioning himself as a candidate for vice-president with the Democratic party national candidate Adlai Stevenson.  Joe doesn't like it because he fears Jack will be branded a loser along with Stevenson, when he loses.  Jackie says that Jack is very good on television and he needs to be introduced to a larger audience.  Joe gets a little mad and leaves the table. 

Jack loses the vice-presidential candidacy to Senator Estes Kefauver from Tennessee.

Black Jack Bouvier dies and Jackie and Lee attend the burial.  Jackie is pregnant and wishes that her father could have seen her coming baby.  Jack Kennedy is off somewhere in the Mediterranean. 

Jackie loses her child.  Bobby has to break the news to Jackie that her baby was stillborn.  It was a girl.  Jack is not available because he is off sailing somewhere.  Joe calls Jack and balls him out.  He virtually demands that Jack get back home and be at the bedside of his wife. 

Jack brings flowers for Jackie on his visit.  She is mad at him.  She tells him:  "Don't say anything.  Just go."  He apologizes.  She shouts:  "Go!"  He leaves. 

When Jackie is out of the hospital she tells Jack that she expects him to at least act like a husband.  She says he does not love her.  He loves having her as his wife, but that's not loving her.  Jack virtually begs to be given another chance. 

Out by the reflecting pool near the Washington Monument, Jack thanks Jackie for meeting him here. 

Jackie gives birth to a daughter, Caroline.  Jack wants to introduce her quickly to the press and the nation. 

Jack wins handsomely for re-election to the senate. 

Jack walks with Jackie and Caroline along the beach.  He says next Tuesday they will be announcing his run for the presidency.   He asks Jackie for her blessing and for her help.  Jackie says, of course, she will, but she doesn't look very happy.  

Jack wins the nomination to be the Democratic party national candidate for President of the United States.

Bobby tells Jack that Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested today for trying to de-segregate a lunch counter.  Bobby says they have to take a strong position on civil rights.  Jack says let's go slow.  Let's win the election before we talk about "moral imperatives".  Jackie tells Jack to at least telephone Mrs. King and offer his concern. 

Jack wins the election.  Bobby says:  "We're on our way." 

Jackie talks about ways in which she could bring some excitement to the White House when she is the first lady.  For one thing, she wants to invite writers, poets, artists and other intellectuals to the White House. 

Mrs. Kennedy gives birth to a baby boy.  His name will be John F. Kennedy, Jr. 

Clothes designer Cassini designs some nice outfits for Jackie to wear.  He says he needs to be the best-dressed woman in the world, without obviously appearing to be. 

Stevenson becomes the U.N. ambassador, Dean Rusk is Secretary of State, McNamara as Secretary of Defense and Bobby as the Attorney General. 

Cassini says that Jackie has the opportunity of creating in the White House an American Versailles.     

1961.  Jack takes the oath of office to be President of the United States.  Jackie wows her guests in her newly designed outfit. 

Jackie works hard on restoring the glory of the White House.  She even spiffs up the Oval Office, which John just loves.

At Christmas, 73-year old Joe Kennedy suffered a major stroke.   He was left paralyzed on his right side and with a language disorder, aphasia, that severely affected his ability to speak.

Trouble with Castro in Cuba in what became called the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The Soviets put missiles on Cuban soil and Kennedy demanded that the missiles be removed.  The missiles are taken out of Cuba.

Jackie loses her newly born son Patrick Kennedy to respiratory distress syndrome.  Jack had to be the one to tell her they lost their child. 

Jack talks about taking a trip out to Dallas, Texas.  Jackie goes with him. 

Ethel comes out to tell Bobby that Mr. Hoover is on the phone.  He tells Bobby that Jack has been shot in Dallas.  The president dies in the hospital.  Jackie sees his body in the hospital and cries.  The Kennedy family and the whole nation is devastated by the news. 

Jackie waits on Air Force One for it to take off.  Mrs. Johnson asks Jackie to stand for photos with her husband as he is sworn in as president.  Jackie is still in shock.  She tells Mrs. Johnson that she held a piece of her husband's skull in her hand.  She kept trying to put it back onto his head.  Mrs. Johnson wants someone to get Jackie out of those bloody clothes she is wearing.  Jackie says:  "Oh, no.  I want them to see what they've done to Jack."

Bobby helps console Jackie.  At home she has to tell Caroline and John John about their father going to heaven to visit and console the very lonely Patrick Kennedy.  After she tells her children, she goes to another room to break down. 

Mrs. Kennedy wanted a burial ceremony like that given for President Abraham Lincoln.  He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

New York City.  With a remote-controlled boat, Bobby plays with John John in water in Central Park.  President Johnson offered Jackie an ambassadorship to Mexico, but she turned it down.  Bobby says that LBJ is just trying to use her and the Kennedy name to legitimate his administration.  Jackie says, at least, Johnson is pushing Jack's policies. 

Aristotle Onassis comes to see Jackie at her apartment.  She asks him if Maria Callas is with him.  He says he does not visit one beautiful woman to talk about another beautiful woman.  Jackie says it's been almost two years since Jack's death.  "When will they (the press) forget about me?"

Someone sicko takes a close-up photo of Jackie's children and then sends the photos with a note:  "See how easy it is?"  Jackie gets scared and rushes to Central Park, even though the Secret Service are watching John John and Caroline.  Ari invites her to go to Greece.  She tells Bobby about it and he doesn't like it because the press would treat it as a scandal.  And he is going to run for the presidency after Johnson's second term as president in 1972. 

As a result of the great unpopularity of the Vietnam War, LBJ says on television that he will not seek nor will he accept the nomination for another term as your president.

Bobbi is running for the Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States.  He is going out to California to campaign in the primary there.  He asks Jackie to go along.  She declines.  Jackie asks him to please be careful out there.  Bobby says they love him in California.  Jackie says as they loved Jack in Dallas.  Bobby says he can't think like that. 

Bobby wins the California primary readily.  But then he is assassinated by a Palestinian-American for not supporting the Palestinian cause enough.  Jackie is afraid that the nation is out to kill Kennedys.  She wants to leave the United States. 

Jackie goes to Greece with Ari.   They are married there October 20, 1968.  Ari's son doesn't like the marriage to Jackie and he leaves during the reception.  Later, his daughter Christina demands to be given Jackie's schedule so she will never have to be in the same place as Jackie.  And for the meanwhile, she wants her father to tell Jackie to stay out of her sight. 

Christina tells Jackie that last night her father was with Maria Callas.  Then she tells Jackie that she is really stupid.  Furthermore, her father is filled with passion and wants someone who does more than just read in bed. 

Jackie runs back to the USA.  Ari follows her and tells her:  "You run away from me?!"  Jackie says she spent half her life rising above gossip and humiliation and she won't do it again.  Ari says she is right and he will do whatever is necessary.   He loves her and wants her home with him. 

Jackie is back on Ari's yacht.  He says she has not forgiven him yet for Callas. 

Ari gets news that his son in the hospital.  At the hospital Ari tells Jackie that he kept telling his son to check the plane.  He thinks that someone must have sabotaged the plane.  The doctor comes out with the news that his son has died.  Jackie tries to console him but he says Christina was right.  Jackie has poisoned his family.  "Get out!  Get out!" 

Jackie is back in New York.  She works as an editor for the Viking Publishing Company.  Maurice comes by and asks her out for dinner and an opera. 

Jackie visits with her mother.  She tells her that John John has graduated from Brown University, Rhode Island three years ago and will soon enter NYU (New York University) for law school.  And Caroline is about ready to get married to Ed Schlossberg.  The reception is at Hyannis Port. 

Jackie celebrates her 64th birthday.  She is ill with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer.

John and Caroline talk about when mother will die.  Caroline says it then will be just the two of them. 

May 19, 1994 Jackie dies.  She was almost 65 years old. 


Good, straight-forward film that tells Jackie Kennedy's story.  I was wondering how can they cover all of Jackie's life, when there is so much ground to be covered.  In one sense, the film is like a person's biographical resume.  So many huge, historical events are covered by five minute scenes at times.  Now, since I lived through a lot of the history, I didn't really want to go into depth on painful memories.  The events happened, they are covered and the story moves on.  Frankly, I was relieved at some of the scenes being short. 

The acting was pretty good and it wasn't really necessary to have great acting in a summarizing film.   I love the way Joanne Whalley looks, but she is not a thin woman like Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.  And in Jackie's later years, she at times looked almost anorexic.  Tim Matheson has played a lot of playboy type men and that helped his believability as John F. Kennedy.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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