JFK and Jackie Kennedy's Relationship Timeline

·20 min read
John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier sit together in the sunshine at Kennedy's family home at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a few months before their wedding.
John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier sit together in the sunshine at Kennedy's family home at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a few months before their wedding.

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President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy were America's golden couple throughout much of the '50s and into the early '60s, ahead of the president's 1963 assassination. For all the glitz and glamour that surrounded them, their marriage was riddled with plenty of hardship, from JFK's alleged and highly publicized affairs to Jackie's difficult pregnancies.

The couple hit it off after being introduced by a mutual friend in 1952. "My brother really was smitten with her right from the very beginning when he first met her at dinner," John's younger brother Ted Kennedy claimed in Sarah Bradford's 2000 book, America's Queen.

Jackie reportedly had a more realistic view of the situation. "Jackie later says she determined of their relationship, 'Such heartbreak would be worth the pain,' " wrote James Patterson in The House of Kennedy.

They would still go on to wed in 1953, with four children in total being born to the couple, though only two — Caroline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. — ever left the hospital. Tragically, in 1956 Jackie gave birth to their stillborn daughter, Arabella, and the couple's fourth child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died just 39 hours after birth.

In addition to their fertility struggles, the Kennedy's relationship was marred by infidelity. By most accounts, Jackie was well aware of her husband's alleged indiscretions. "It was a marriage of its time," a close family friend told PEOPLE. "It was kinetic between them. She wasn't trying to change him."

Others, however, say that John's assumed cheating was a source of contention for the couple. "There were many senators and people who worked for the president who were really well aware of the conversations that Jackie had with JFK, in which she made it really clear that she knew what was going on," Jackie, Janet and Lee author J. Randy Taraborrelli told PEOPLE. "She wasn't naive to it. They did have many conversations about it, and she did tell him that she was sick of it and she didn't like it."

As one of the couple's friends told PEOPLE, "At the end of the day, Jack came back to Jackie — and that was it. They loved each other."

1952: John F. Kennedy meets Jacqueline Bouvier

John F Kennedy (1917 - 1963) helping his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1929 - 1994), adjust a camera in front of their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts
John F Kennedy (1917 - 1963) helping his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1929 - 1994), adjust a camera in front of their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

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JFK, a young senator from Massachusetts, and Jacqueline Bouvier, a "camera girl" and reporter for the Washington Times-Herald, were reportedly introduced by journalist Charles Bartlett, according to James Patterson's The House of Kennedy. "We met at the house of a friend about two years ago," Jackie told CBS News in October 1953. "I interviewed him shortly after I met him."

June 24, 1953: John F. Kennedy announces his engagement to Jacqueline Bouvier

John Kennedy and his fiancee Jacqueline Bouvier play tennis.
John Kennedy and his fiancee Jacqueline Bouvier play tennis.

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While the couple announced their engagement on June 24, 1953, the circumstances surrounding John's proposal are still up for debate.

The Omni Hotel in Boston claims that the senator popped the question at table 40 in its restaurant, Parker's. The hotel's blog also claims that the politician got down on one knee to present Jackie with her now-famous 2.88-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring from Van Cleef & Arpels.

Another account, however, claims that the event took place at Martin's Tavern in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., with former ambassador Marion Smoak claiming to be an eyewitness. According to Smoak, it was a quiet event. "After the senator proposed, and she accepted, the news ran through the restaurant," he recalls. "That night we didn't know his future and what it would bring. In hindsight it was great fun to witness a part of history."

July 1953: John F. Kennedy and Jaqueline Bouvier appear on the cover of Life magazine

The twosome were featured on the magazine's cover next to the headline "Senator Kennedy Goes a-Courting" in July 1953. In the photo, they are seen on the deck of a sailboat near Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

September 12, 1953: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy are married

Senator John F. Kennedy and his bride, the former Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, leave a Newport, Rhode Island, church following their wedding ceremony. An estimated one thousand people waited outside the church for the newlyweds.
Senator John F. Kennedy and his bride, the former Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, leave a Newport, Rhode Island, church following their wedding ceremony. An estimated one thousand people waited outside the church for the newlyweds.

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Two years after meeting, John and Jackie tied the knot at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The affair was one to remember, with roughly 600 diplomats, senators and social figures in attendance for the ceremony and 900 at the reception. Jackie's stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss, gave her away, and Archbishop Cushing of Boston performed the rites, which included a special blessing from the pope.

Jackie wore a stunning ivory silk taffeta gown designed by Ann Lowe, one of the first notable African American fashion designers, which included a portrait neckline and 50 yards of material. She also wore a tiara and a rosepoint lace veil with orange blossoms, originally worn by her grandmother Margaret Lee. She accessorized with a pearl choker and a diamond bracelet — a gift from the future president. Jackie carried a bouquet of pink and white spray orchids and gardenias.

Following the wedding, the couple headed to their reception at the Auchincloss estate, Hammersmith Farm, where they enjoyed a four-foot-tall wedding cake and an orchestra.

September 1953: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy go on their honeymoon

Senator John F. Kennedy with 24-year-old fiancee Jackie Bouvier at the family compund. The two are in khakis and walking on the beach.
Senator John F. Kennedy with 24-year-old fiancee Jackie Bouvier at the family compund. The two are in khakis and walking on the beach.

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The couple left their wedding to the fanfare of rice and confetti and headed to Acapulco, Mexico, where they would spend their honeymoon. They later traveled to Santa Barbara, California, where they stayed in a 2,700-square-foot retreat at San Ysidro Ranch.

September 12, 1954: Jackie Kennedy writes a poem for John F. Kennedy

Senator John F. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and Jacqueline Bouvier
Senator John F. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and Jacqueline Bouvier

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For the couple's first anniversary, Jackie wrote a poem called "Meanwhile in Massachusetts" for her husband. Published in 2001 by daughter Caroline, Jackie wrote of a promising man from New England with his future in front of him.

1955: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy suffer a miscarriage

JFK's friend and adviser Ken O'Donnell revealed to biographer Steven Levingston that Jackie had a miscarriage three months after becoming pregnant in 1955.

August 23, 1956: Jackie Kennedy gives birth to a stillborn baby without John F. Kennedy

Jackie gave birth to a stillborn daughter named Arabella on Aug.23, 1956. According to Levingston's The Kennedy Baby, John was on a yacht in the Mediterranean at the time.

Carly Simon, musician and longtime friend of the First Lady, confirmed to NBC News that John was not present at the time of Arabella's birth, and claimed that it was one of the things that hurt Jackie more than the late president's alleged affairs. "I think that some of the things had more effect on her," Simon said. "For instance, his not being there for the birth of a child, his being off with a mistress while she was in the hospital. There are various things that he did that by comparison to having a mistress must have hurt more."

Jackie, Janet and Lee author J. Randy Taraborelli claimed that it was one of two times that Jackie considered divorce, but that her sister, Lee Radziwill, talked her out of it.

November 27, 1957: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy welcome a baby girl

Jacqueline Kennedy and her husband Senator John F. Kennedy sit on a lounge chair at their summer home. Jacqueline reads to her daughter Caroline from a book.
Jacqueline Kennedy and her husband Senator John F. Kennedy sit on a lounge chair at their summer home. Jacqueline reads to her daughter Caroline from a book.

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Following their heartbreaking loss, John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy welcomed daughter Caroline Kennedy into their family on Nov. 27, 1957.

1957 or 1958: Jackie Kennedy writes a love letter to John F. Kennedy 

In 2018, a three-page handwritten letter from Jackie to John circa 1957 or 1958 went up for auction, offering a rare glimpse into the couple's relationship.

"I know everyone says married couples should never separate — as you get off the same wavelength … but I think it is usually good when we go away from each other as we both realize so much," Jackie wrote. "You are an atypical husband … so you mustn't be surprised to have an atypical wife … I can't write down what I feel for you, but I will show you when I am with you — and I think you must know."

Jackie also mentioned the couple's newborn daughter, Caroline, in the letter, calling her "at last a baby we both love."

Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of auction house RR Auction, explained the significance of the letter to PEOPLE. "She's talking about their marriage and their relationship. It isn't about visiting the in-laws or something. It is a love letter," he said. "She loved him, and it shows there."

1958: John F. Kennedy allegedly has an affair with Diana de Vegh

In 2021, Diana de Vegh claimed in an essay for Air Mail that she began an affair with John as a 20-year-old college student after their paths crossed at a benefit dinner in 1958. According to de Vegh, she even dropped out of college and moved to Washington, D.C. after he was elected president.

De Vegh said that their connection eventually fizzled out and it took her "years to recover" from the romance. "The man with whom I believed I was having a love affair did not want to connect certain dots," she wrote. "In fact, he wanted me to be as isolated as possible, alone on the vast sea of his attention."

January 2, 1960: John F. Kennedy announces his presidential candidacy 

John F. Kennedy with his wife Jackie in New York before leaving for Los Angeles to attend the Democratic Party National Convention, where he will receive the Party's nomination for the presidency. 1960
John F. Kennedy with his wife Jackie in New York before leaving for Los Angeles to attend the Democratic Party National Convention, where he will receive the Party's nomination for the presidency. 1960

Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis

Senator Kennedy announced his intent to run for president on Jan. 2, 1960. "For 18 years, I have been in the service of the United States, first as a naval officer in the Pacific during World War II and for the past 14 years as a member of the Congress," he said in a statement. "In the last 20 years, I have traveled in nearly every continent and country — from Leningrad to Saigon, from Bucharest to Lima. From all of this, I have developed an image of America as fulfilling a noble and historic role as the defender of freedom in a time of maximum peril — and of the American people as confident, courageous and persevering. It is with this image that I begin this campaign."

1960: Jackie Kennedy helps John F. Kennedy campaign for president

Senator John F. Kennedy (right) is shown with his family in the backyard of his summer home here July 21st. His wife, Jacqueline, holds Caroline, 2.
Senator John F. Kennedy (right) is shown with his family in the backyard of his summer home here July 21st. His wife, Jacqueline, holds Caroline, 2.

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Jackie learned that she was pregnant during JFK's presidential campaign, and her doctors ordered her to stay at home. From home, she did what she could, answering letters, taping TV commercials, giving interviews and penning a weekly newsletter column called "Campaign Wife."

November 8, 1960: John F. Kennedy is elected President of the United States

John F. Kennedy delivers his acceptance speech after the presidential election on November 9, 1960. His wife Jackie stands at his side at the Kennedy Press Headquarters
John F. Kennedy delivers his acceptance speech after the presidential election on November 9, 1960. His wife Jackie stands at his side at the Kennedy Press Headquarters

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John narrowly defeated Richard Nixon on Nov. 8, 1960, in a hotly contested election, making Jackie the incumbent first lady of the U.S.

November 25, 1960: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy welcome son John F. Kennedy Jr.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., is photographed for the first time at the age of 13 days during his christening in the Georgetown University Hospital Chapel here, December 8th. The infant is being held by his mother, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy. The proud papa, President-elect John F. Kennedy, smiles beside her.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., is photographed for the first time at the age of 13 days during his christening in the Georgetown University Hospital Chapel here, December 8th. The infant is being held by his mother, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy. The proud papa, President-elect John F. Kennedy, smiles beside her.

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Just two weeks after JFK was elected president, Jackie gave birth to a son, John F. Kennedy Jr. JFK Jr. later went to law school in New York City and worked as a journalist.

January 20, 1961: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy become president and first lady 

1917 - 1963) and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (nee Bouvier, later Onassis, 1929 – 1994) leave the capital building by car shortly after the former took the oath of office as President of the United States, Washington DC, January 20, 1961. President Kennedy, 43, the youngest man ever elected to the Presidency called for a global alliance against "Tyranny, Poverty, Disease, and War." President Kennedy took the oath of office at 12:51 P.M. Eastern, to become the 35th Chief Executive of the land.
1917 - 1963) and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (nee Bouvier, later Onassis, 1929 – 1994) leave the capital building by car shortly after the former took the oath of office as President of the United States, Washington DC, January 20, 1961. President Kennedy, 43, the youngest man ever elected to the Presidency called for a global alliance against "Tyranny, Poverty, Disease, and War." President Kennedy took the oath of office at 12:51 P.M. Eastern, to become the 35th Chief Executive of the land.

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On Jan. 20, 1961, John became the 35th president at age 43, making Jackie first lady at age 31.

February 23, 1961: Jackie Kennedy begins a historic White House redesign 

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1929 - 1994), in a red dress, stands in before a dining room table in the White House during the filming of a CBS News Special program called 'A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy,' Washington DC, January 15, 1962
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1929 - 1994), in a red dress, stands in before a dining room table in the White House during the filming of a CBS News Special program called 'A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy,' Washington DC, January 15, 1962

CBS Photo Archive/Getty

As first lady, Jackie was an ambassador of goodwill and a staunch supporter of the arts, and she also created a committee to help her restore and preserve the White House in what would ultimately become "the most historic redesign of the White House in history."

Her efforts were chronicled in a CBS television special which aired on Feb. 14, 1962, in which she gave viewers a glimpse of the $2 million project.

June 5, 1961: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy meet Queen Elizabeth II

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy pay a visit to the royal family in England. (L-R): John F. Kennedy; Queen Elizabeth II; Jackie Kennedy, and Prince Philip.
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy pay a visit to the royal family in England. (L-R): John F. Kennedy; Queen Elizabeth II; Jackie Kennedy, and Prince Philip.

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In the summer of 1961, the pair traveled to England for the christening of Jackie's niece, Anna Christina Radziwill. During their visit, Buckingham Palace held a banquet in their honor — an event that was recreated in season 2 of The Crown. Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke recalled the meeting fondly in an oral history interview with the JFK Library. "The Queen and Prince Philip welcomed us at the top of the stairs in a small room where we all had a glass of champagne — or something — before dinner," he said. "Instead of having a receiving line, the Queen took the President and Prince Philip took Mrs. Kennedy around the room …  It was a delightful evening."

Dinner presented challenges, however; newly titled Princess Lee Radziwill and her husband Prince Stanislas Radziwill of Poland, both divorcées, were in attendance — something traditionally shunned at state dinners.

According to Sarah Bradford's book America's Queen, Jackie found the Queen "pretty heavy going." Writer Gore Vidal recalled his friend Jackie saying, "The Queen had her revenge … No [Princess] Margaret, no [Princess] Marina, no one except every Commonwealth minister of agriculture they could find."

Artist Cecil Beaton wrote in his diaries that Jackie was less than impressed by both the palace and Queen Elizabeth's gown, according to The Telegraph.

1962: John F. Kennedy allegedly has an affair with intern Mimi Alford

Former White House press office intern Mimi Alford (née Beardsley), in her 2012 book Once Upon a Secret, claimed that in 1962 she began an affair with the president, even having sexual encounters in the bedroom he shared with Jackie Kennedy. "I think he did take advantage — I was so young," Alford wrote of that first intimate encounter. "But I liked feeling special."

May 19, 1962: Marilyn Monroe sings "Happy Birthday" to John F. Kennedy

Marilyn Monroe sings "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, for his upcoming 45th birthday.
Marilyn Monroe sings "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, for his upcoming 45th birthday.

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Marilyn Monroe famously sparked suspicions of a romantic relationship with John in May 1962 when she sang a sultry rendition of "Happy Birthday" to the president at his 45th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden.

"It was pretty clear that Marilyn had had sexual relations with both Bobby [Kennedy] and [John]," Monroe biographer James Spada told PEOPLE. According to Spada, actor Peter Lawford introduced John and Monroe in 1954. Spada claims that by the spring of 1962, however, Kennedy had "passed her off" to his brother Bobby.

Monroe's "instability posed a constant threat" to the president, according to Dark Side of Camelot author Seymour Hersh.

Former secret service agent Jerry Blaine told PEOPLE that he was with JFK during two known encounters that John had with Monroe. Blaine said he "never saw any evidence of an affair," but didn't know "what happened behind closed doors."

August 7, 1963: Patrick Bouvier Kennedy is born to John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy

John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie, a day after she had given birth to their third child at Otis Airforce base. Because of a respiratory ailment the baby was placed in an incubator at Boston Children's Medical centre
John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie, a day after she had given birth to their third child at Otis Airforce base. Because of a respiratory ailment the baby was placed in an incubator at Boston Children's Medical centre

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Amid talk of John's affairs, a third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, was born to the couple five and a half weeks early on Aug. 7, 1963. He weighed just 4 pounds, 10.5 ounces and was delivered via cesarean section.

August 9, 1963: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy mourn son Patrick

Just 39 hours into his short life, Patrick took his last breaths in the arms of his father, according to author Steve Levingston's book The Kennedy Baby. "With [friend Dave] Powers and Robert [Kennedy] beside him, Kennedy cradled his son as the frail newborn took his last labored breaths," Levingston wrote. "'He put up quite a fight,' the president said softly. 'He was a beautiful baby.' "

Patrick was buried in Brookline, Massachusetts, but later transferred to a grave next to John and his stillborn sister, Arabella.

August 14, 1963: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy leave the hospital together 

President Kennedy holds hands with his wife Jackie as they leave the Otis Air Force Base hospital on August 14, 1963, where Mrs. Kennedy gave birth on August 7th. The baby boy died after two days. | Location: Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts, USA.
President Kennedy holds hands with his wife Jackie as they leave the Otis Air Force Base hospital on August 14, 1963, where Mrs. Kennedy gave birth on August 7th. The baby boy died after two days. | Location: Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts, USA.

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Following the death of their son, those closest to the pair noticed a shift in their relationship, beginning with their united front upon leaving the hospital at Otis Air Force Base.

"After the death of Patrick, the other agents and I noticed a distinctly closer relationship, openly expressed, between the president and Mrs. Kennedy," Jackie's secret service agent, Clint Hill, wrote in his memoir, Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

Hill noted the importance of their holding hands during their exit. "It was a small gesture, but quite significant to those of us who were around them all the time," he said. "Prior to this, they were much more restrained and less willing to express their close, loving relationship while out in public. The loss of Patrick seemed to be the catalyst to change all that."

Former press secretary Pierre Salinger also recalled their shift in Levingston's biography, stating, "The death of the infant was one of the hardest moments in the lives of both President and Mrs. Kennedy. The White House had brought about a closeness in their relationship, a wider understanding of one another. The death of their baby brought them even closer."

September 12, 1963: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy celebrate their 10-year anniversary

For the couple's 10th anniversary, John reportedly gave his wife an Egyptian snake bracelet after a lengthy stint in his bedroom spent contemplating the gift.

November 22, 1963: John F. Kennedy is assassinated next to Jackie Kennedy

President Kennedy and wife Jackie ride in a motorcade among the crowds in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Moments later President Kennedy will be fatally shot. Texas Governor John Connally was also shot.
President Kennedy and wife Jackie ride in a motorcade among the crowds in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Moments later President Kennedy will be fatally shot. Texas Governor John Connally was also shot.

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On Nov. 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was killed while riding through the streets of Dallas in an open convertible as part of his reelection campaign. The president was struck by a bullet shortly after 12:30 p.m. and his body slumped over onto Jackie, who was seated beside him. He was pronounced dead at the Parkland Memorial Hospital just 30 minutes later.

JFK's killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was murdered by Jack Ruby on live television while being transferred to a county jail.

November 25, 1963: Jackie Kennedy attends John F. Kennedy's funeral 

Jackie Kennedy walks away from the gravesite of her husband John F. Kennedy November 25, 1963 at Arlington Cemetary. Robert Kennedy is at her side
Jackie Kennedy walks away from the gravesite of her husband John F. Kennedy November 25, 1963 at Arlington Cemetary. Robert Kennedy is at her side

National Archive/Newsmakers

According to Jackie's secret service agent Clint Hill, who wrote about JFK's funeral in his books Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Presidents, the first lady viewed her late husband's casket the day before the service, clipping a small lock of his hair in remembrance.

The following day, Jackie rode in silence directly behind the funeral caisson with the couple's young children, the attorney general, acting president Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife. She chose to walk the stretch between the White House and the Cathedral of St. Matthew, where the funeral mass took place.

Life reported that the widow returned to John's grave at midnight to adorn it with flowers.

November 29, 1963: Jackie Kennedy invites a Life magazine reporter into her home

Just four days after John's burial, Jackie invited Life reporter Theodore H. White to her home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, in an effort to shape John's public legacy. "She wanted to be sure he was remembered as a great president," former secret service agent Clint Hill told PEOPLE.

During the interview, Jackie compared John's presidency to King Arthur's reign, referencing a song from JFK's favorite musical, Camelot. "'Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot,' " she quoted, before adding, "There'll be great presidents again — and the Johnsons are wonderful, they've been wonderful to me — but there'll never be a Camelot again."

1963: Jackie Kennedy mourns the death of John F. Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy, widow of the late President John F. Kennedy, stands with her children, Caroline and John, Jr., as they try out their skis on Mount Mansfield. The Kennedy clan has assembled here for Easter weekend.
Jackie Kennedy, widow of the late President John F. Kennedy, stands with her children, Caroline and John, Jr., as they try out their skis on Mount Mansfield. The Kennedy clan has assembled here for Easter weekend.

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Jackie was reportedly depressed following the death of John, confessing to feeling "bitter against God" in private letters to priest Joseph Leonard and reportedly asking questions of suicide to Father Richard McSorley, such as whether or not "God would separate her from her husband if she killed herself."

Jackie, Janet and Lee author J. Randy Taraborrelli claimed Jackie was "constantly crying" and self-medicating with alcohol and pills. "She often threatened suicide," the author told PEOPLE. "She couldn't sleep; she had nightmares."

By the late '60s, however, Jackie had reportedly begun seeking therapy and stopped her self-destructive behavior. "She dealt with it head-on, and [the drug use] did not continue in her life … She just stopped," Taraborrelli added. "Pretty typical of the way Jackie would do such a thing. She just made up her mind and then that was the end of it."

1964 to 1967: Jackie Kennedy goes on dates

Jacqueline Kennedy (1929 - 1994) attends the inauguration of a memorial to her husband John F. Kennedy in Runnymede, Surrey, nearly eighteen months after his assassination. Holding her hand is her young son, John F. Kennedy Jr. (1960 - 1999)
Jacqueline Kennedy (1929 - 1994) attends the inauguration of a memorial to her husband John F. Kennedy in Runnymede, Surrey, nearly eighteen months after his assassination. Holding her hand is her young son, John F. Kennedy Jr. (1960 - 1999)

Michael Stroud/Express/Getty

Taraborrelli revealed in his book that in 1964 Jackie Kennedy began dating architect Jack Warnecke, whom she had hired to design John's eternal flame memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. By 1966, the pair even reportedly discussed marriage while vacationing in Hawaii.

Jackie was also linked to David Ormsby-Gore, a close friend of John's who traveled to Cambodia with the former first lady in 1967. In 2017, letters between Jackie and Ormsby-Gore went up for auction, one of which revealed that Jackie turned down a proposal from the former British ambassador.

October 20, 1968: Jackie Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis 

Aristotle Onassis (1906 - 1975) with his wife Jackie (Bouvier Kennedy, 1929 - 1994)
Aristotle Onassis (1906 - 1975) with his wife Jackie (Bouvier Kennedy, 1929 - 1994)

Central Press/Getty

Jackie tied the knot for a second time with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

A handwritten letter from Jackie to Ormsby-Gore, discovered at his family home in Wales, revealed her reasoning for tying the knot with Onassis in Greece in October 1968. "If ever I can find some healing and some comfort — it has to be with somebody who is not part of all my world of past and pain," she wrote. "I can find that now — if the world will let us."

Onassis was ​​Lee Radziwill's former lover. "After Bobby was killed, as much as [Radziwill] wanted to be with [Onassis], she gave him up for Jackie," author J. Randy Taraborrelli told PEOPLE. "She realized she would not be able to live with herself if something happened to Jackie and the kids because she had not allowed Onassis to be their protector. She abandoned her love for Onassis rather than take a chance of something happening to her sister and her niece and nephew."

As for Onassis, Taraborrelli claimed his marriage to Jackie was one of convenience. "I think from Onassis' point of view, it was an acquisition," he said. "Not that he didn't love Jackie but I don't think he was in love with her, nor she with him. Jackie said it best — that he rescued her from the darkest time in her life. He protected her and her children."

Jackie's former live-in assistant, Kathy McKeon, expressed similar sentiments in her memoir Jackie's Girl. "'Is this what she wants?' I couldn't help but wonder. She and Mr. Onassis seemed like friends, not a couple," McKeon wrote.

Onassis died in March 1975 of respiratory failure.

January 1994: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

In 1994, Jackie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system, and began chemotherapy treatment.

May 19, 1994: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dies

Jackie Onassis' Funeral in Arlington National Cemetery
Jackie Onassis' Funeral in Arlington National Cemetery

Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis

At 64, the former first lady lost her battle with cancer at 10:15 p.m. at home, on May 19, 1994, with her daughter and son by her side. Friend Carly Simon was also there to comfort Jackie. "I was holding her hand, telling her I loved her and saying goodbye," Simon told PEOPLE. "There was an otherworldly recording of monks singing, intermingled with sounds of uproarious laughter from the next room, where various Kennedys were having an Irish gathering. It was surreal."

Then-president Bill Clinton gave a statement in the wake of her passing. "Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a model of courage and dignity for all Americans and all the world," he said. "More than any other woman of her time, she captivated our nation and the world with her intelligence, her elegance and her grace. Even in the face of impossible tragedy, she carried the grief of her family and our entire nation with a calm power that somehow reassured all of us who mourned."

Jackie was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, next to her children Arabella and Patrick and first husband JFK.