Skip to main content

5 Facts About Jackie Kennedy: Smoking Habit and Love Life

I am a management professional who likes to search for obscure facts about famous people throughout history and film.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

Jacqueline "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis was, without question, one of the most glamorous women of the 20th century. The widow to both a President of the United States and one of the world's wealthiest businessmen, she practically defined style.

We all know about the pillbox hats and the White House redecorating program. So instead, here are some other fun and interesting facts about Jackie that you probably don't know.

1. She Was a Chain Smoker

Thinking of Jackie as the fashion icon and beloved First Lady that she was, it is hard to imagine her having a cigarette in hand. However, Jackie actually had a three-packs-a-day habit that lasted for over 40 years. Photographs of her smoking (or getting ready to smoke) exist, but they are extremely rare.

One of the reasons was her prerogative as First Lady. If she told people not to take a photo, then no photograph was taken. She also made sure that people didn't refer to her habit in print, either. When William Manchester was writing The Death of a President, he made a reference to Jackie at Parkside Hospital fishing a cigarette out of her purse. It was one of many passages she insisted that he cut out of the final draft.

Those who knew her, though, were well aware of her habit. Lyndon Johnson, for example, always made sure that the LBJ Ranch was well-stocked with Salems—Mrs. Kennedy's brand of choice—whenever she visited.

After she married Aristotle Onassis, Jackie became a bit less protective of her image, but she still smoked, often with the aid of a cigarette holder. She only quit at the request of her daughter Caroline after having been diagnosed in early 1994 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Sadly, it was too little too late. She died in May of that year at age 64.

The Kennedys on their wedding day in 1953. The couple tied the knot on Hammersmith Farm—where Jackie spent a portion of her time growing up.

The Kennedys on their wedding day in 1953. The couple tied the knot on Hammersmith Farm—where Jackie spent a portion of her time growing up.

2. As a Teenager, She Spent Several Summers Feeding Chickens

One would be hard-pressed to come up with a better image of a woman-of-breeding than Jackie. She was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, Long Island. However, her parents, Janet and Jack Bouvier were from New York City, and that was where Jackie and her younger sister Lee were raised. Jackie made New York her home for most of her life and was very much a city girl.

By 1940 Jackie's parents had divorced, and in 1942 her mother married Hugh D. Auchincloss, who was born on a farm. Granted, that farm was Hammersmith Farm in tony Newport, Rhode Island, with over 75 acres and a manor home consisting of 28 rooms—so large that John and Jackie actually held their wedding reception there in 1953.

The property was nevertheless a working farm, which during World War II provided victuals for Newport's thriving naval base. She spent several summers there as a teenager, and because the war had left Auchincloss short-handed, it fell to her to feed the farm's two thousand chickens and gather up their eggs. When she wasn't doing farm chores, she would go down to the bay and watch the ships coming in and out of the naval base.

The Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Jackie was very interested in the history of the war.

The Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Jackie was very interested in the history of the war.

3. She Was a Civil War Buff

Jackie was very much a Francophile. Her father's family, the Bouviers, were French, of course. While at Vassar College, she spent her junior year abroad studying at Sorbonne University in Paris (though the program was actually sponsored by Smith College) and, upon her return to the U.S., transferred to George Washington University where she earned her bachelor's degree in French literature. Her thorough knowledge of French history dovetailed nicely with JFK's knowledge of Great Britain.

One interest the two Kennedys had in common, however, was American history and the American Civil War in particular. According to biographer Barbara Leaming, when she found a new Civil War book to read, JFK would often snatch it away from her and go about reading it himself. When they visited Camp David in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, they sometimes would fly to nearby Antietam or up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to view the battlefields.

Jackie Kennedy, photographed by Toni Frissell, 1957.

Jackie Kennedy, photographed by Toni Frissell, 1957.

4. A Month Before JFK Was Shot, She Was With Onassis

1963 was not a happy year for Jackie. It had, however, begun with a lot of promise. In late 1962 she learned she was pregnant with her fourth child (the couple's first, a daughter, was stillborn in 1956), and preparations were being made to accommodate the new arrival.

Unfortunately, that arrival came six weeks early. On August 7, 1963, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, weighing a mere four pounds, was born at the hospital at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod. Doctors noted that he had difficulty breathing and determined that he had hyaline membrane disease. Though the baby was transferred to two different hospitals in Boston where they had better facilities, he lived less than 48 hours. The Kennedys were understandably devastated, and Jackie fell into a serious depression.

To cheer her up, her sister, Lee Radziwill, spoke with her friend—and current lover—Greek shipping magnate Onassis and asked if it would be possible for Jackie to take a little vacation with her in Greece. Onassis said of course and offered to put his 325-foot luxury yacht, the Christina, at the women's disposal while he would stay onshore. Jackie said nonsense. She would be a very rude guest not to allow her host aboard his own ship. Onassis would come too.

When JFK heard about the arrangement, he was rankled, not so much because of Onassis' womanizing ways (and the speculations in the press about the tycoon's relationship with his sister-in-law), but because, at the time, Onassis was no particular friend of the U.S.

Just recently, for example, Onassis had had to fork over seven million dollars as a settlement to avoid having the U.S. Maritime Commission prosecute him for reneging on a promise to keep under an American registry the 14 ships he had bought from the United States Government.

JFK was also worried that the First Lady's trip would come off as privileged jet-setting. When he saw how much Jackie was looking forward to the trip, however, he ultimately gave it his blessing. To buy himself a little political insurance, he asked Lee's husband Stas to go too, along with Undersecretary of Commerce Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., and his wife, just so the vacation wouldn't look like some sort of a playboy cruise.

Jackie left on October 1 and toured for about two and a half weeks, visiting Lesbos, Crete, and other ports of call, including Onassis' private island Skorpios, which he had just recently purchased. At the conclusion of the trip, she spent a few days in Morocco as the guest of King Hassan II before returning to Washington on October 17. Shortly after her return, the Kennedys started making plans for a doomed political trip to Texas.

JFK's family leaves the Capitol after a ceremony honoring the former president.

JFK's family leaves the Capitol after a ceremony honoring the former president.

5. Between Jack and Ari There Was Bobby—and Charles Addams

Between November 22, 1963, and the end of 1968, the now-widowed and former First Lady was romantically involved with several men. One of whom apparently was her brother-in-law Bobby Kennedy—at the time married and a father of eight and counting. Drawn together by mutual grief, much like Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher were after the death of Taylor's husband Mike Todd, at first, Bobby and Jackie merely provided each other emotional support.

A number of Jackie's biographers, however, insist that by late 1964 or early 1965, their relationship had blossomed into a full-scale romance, often with physical contact that went beyond mere familial affection. Though their opportunities to see each other were understandably limited, their relationship really only ended with Bobby's assassination on June 5, 1968.

Cartoonist Charles Addams

Less shocking perhaps, but certainly no less unusual, was Jackie's relationship with New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, best known for his creation of Morticia, Gomez, and the other ghoulish characters that became known as the Addams Family. Already twice divorced by the time he started dating Jackie, Addams loved being seen in the company of beautiful and famous women; he also counted Greta Garbo and Joan Fontaine among his love interests.

Addams was, without a doubt, one of the most charming eccentrics ever to grace New York society. By all accounts, a gentle and kind-hearted man, he frequently embraced the macabre in his personal life as well as in his cartoons.

He married his third wife Tee in a pet cemetery, for example, and lived for many years in a penthouse above a 12-story apartment building—essentially the 13th floor—where he collected medieval weapons and other relics, including a suit of armor, the helmet of which he would sometimes wear along with a dinner jacket.

Jackie was apparently quite a fan of Addams' work, saying at one point that she had more in common with Morticia than most people realized. But a fan or not, becoming the third Mrs. Charles Addams was not in the cards. On October 20, 1968, Jackie wed Onassis.

Sources

Comments

Dovebyrd Twahtpoht on June 29, 2020:

She died very young at only 64.Sadly her cancer may have very well been caused by her chain smoking of over three pacs a day of cigarettes for over 40 long years.

jim on December 02, 2018:

Onassis one sneaky guy

Bruno56 on June 17, 2018:

Funny she made friendship with the creator of the Adams Family. I think the comic strip Bringing Up Father describes her better. The strip of Jiggs & Maggie by George Mcmanus.Her father John Bouvier acted like Jiggs with low class friends in the bar, acting like a rich loser & ridiculous. And Maggie throwing dishes at him. I do know John F was a fan of the comic strip but wouldn't be surprised Jacqueline hated it. It brought her memories.

PS Not eating & smoking too much killed her.

Linda McClintock on June 10, 2018:

I guess chain smoking and not eating keeps you skinny

Uzma Shaheen from Lahore,Pakistan on April 13, 2016:

Jackie was definitely an attractive and graceful lady, it was fun to know some interesting facts about her.

AJ from Australia on April 18, 2015:

Well I certainly didn't know about Jackie's chicken connection! Fascinating.

oldiesmusic from United States on November 17, 2014:

Interesting, intriguing and wonderful article about Jackie O. I knew nothing of these things before. Nice hub. :)

Ken Kline from Chicago, Illinois on May 28, 2014:

I linked back to you on my hub that indexes the Jackie Kennedy articles. Wonderful article. Thank you very much! The chicken fact I had never heard - how interesting!

I found it fascinating the families devotion to poetry.

justmesuzanne from Texas on June 15, 2013:

Voted up and awesome! I just finished watching the mini-series, The Kennedys, and Katie Holmes was excellent as Jackie (and Greg Kinnear was no slouch as JFK!) To be honest with you, I am too tired to read this right now, but I WILL come back to it, and just to prove it to you, I am Pinning it to my Good People board! :)

Headfullofsound on June 03, 2012:

Needs some typos amended but overall a fascinating mini-bio!

Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on June 03, 2012:

interesting facts.. I knew None :D

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on June 02, 2012:

A recent American history nut, I'm amazed how much of this I didn't know. Should I just read some more recent biographies of Jackie or is there one you'd recommend? Great hub. Not the ordinary!

klarawieck on June 02, 2012:

teutophile, what an interesting article. You've managed to collect related, yet unknown facts about this incredible woman. Thanks for sharing these facts.

DREAM ON on June 02, 2012:

Very interesting and cool learning history I didn't know.Thanx for sharing.