Monday, July 18, 2016

John F. Kennedy Jr.: A Life Under a Microscope, Cut Short - nytimes

He made his first appearance in The Times when he was one day old, and undoubtedly has yet to make his last.

From the start, every detail of his life hurtled round the world: hisbaptism; his first Christmas; his first teeth, first steps and first haircut; the box of stuffed animals he received from Madame Charles de Gaulle; the time he caught a cold.

The news media massed to chronicle his first birthday; his second; and, in untold, unforeseen numbers, his third, at which, clad in a tiny blue coat, he saluted his father’s passing coffin in one of the most enduring images in history.

Years later that photograph — taken on Nov. 25, 1963 — would stand as a dark augury of the son’s own life. For if John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. was the charmed star of a late-20th-Century American fairy tale, he also turned out to be the protagonist of a story that ended, as it had for so many members of his family, swiftly, publicly and well before its time.

John Jr. — known to legions of Americans by the tender twinned epithet John-John — died at 38, even younger than his father had, on July 16, 1999, when the small plane he was flying plunged into the sea off Martha’s Vineyard. His wife of barely a thousand days, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister Lauren Bessette also died in the crash.

Like his father and uncles before him, the young John Kennedy (he eschewed the “F.” and the “Jr.”) could not have embodied the collective fantasy of the hero more thoroughly had he been assembled by consensus: He possessed wealth, charm, athleticism, prowess and dark good looks in no small measure — as close to a prince du sang as the American democracy would bear.

His adult exploits were chronicled no less voraciously than his childhood ones had been: his graduations from college and law school; his admission, after well-documented struggle, to the bar; his founding, in 1995, of George, a glossy magazine of politics and popular culture.

The public hung avidly on the sparkling bits: the parties; the celebrity girlfriends, among them Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker and Daryl Hannah; the 1988 People magazine cover (“The Sexiest Man Alive”); and, in particular, his clandestine wedding to Ms. Bessette, a fashion publicist, in 1996, in a humble wood-frame chapel on a secluded island off the Georgia coast. - Read More

Not Forgotten: John F. Kennedy Jr.: A Life Under a Microscope, Cut Short - NYT


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