JFK and Jackie

By all accounts, Jack and Jackie appeared perfectly matched. They were both good looking and came from wealthy families. As Lem Billings would later say, just the names — Jack and Jackie — were so similar that it seemed as if it were meant to be. In addition, not many women from Kennedy's long stream of relationships had managed to capture his attention long enough for him to consider marriage. But Jackie, with her obvious beauty and sophistication, intrigued him. This was evident from their first meeting; Jackie proved to be a tough opponent when they played a series of word games. Kennedy was used to winning, but Jackie emerged the victor. It was the beginning of their relationship.

Part of what attracted Kennedy to Jackie was her superior social skills. However, after he was elected president it became evident that she preferred to stay out of the public view and wanted to focus on raising their children. She defined her position early on in Kennedy's term. She proclaimed that she was a wife and a mother, but not a public official. She clarified to the White House social secretary that she would not attend lunches or teas or give speeches.

President and Mrs. Kennedy leave for a trip to Pakistan and India.

Photo credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Jackie, however, wanted a little bit more than time with her family, and Kennedy soon learned the cost of his wife's happiness. She had expensive tastes in all things, especially clothing. She quickly exceeded Kennedy's annual presidential salary of $100,000 in 1961 and 1962. In addition, she surpassed the White House entertainment budget, and Kennedy was forced to cover the cost with personal funds. Kennedy's concern for reining in Jackie's spending came to a head when he received the tally for her expenditures at department stores, which totaled $40,000. When he asked her what she had spent it on, she could offer no explanation. Jackie disagreed with her husband's decision to donate his salary to charity.

THEY SAID…

“From the beginning there was a playful element between them. Jackie gave him a good match: that's one of the things Jack liked. But there was a serious element too. Who was going to win?”

— Lem Billings, as quoted in The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings

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