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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dead at 64

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NEW YORK, May 19, -- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the queen of the Kennedy Camelot years who won worldwide admiration first for the glamour she brought to the White House and then for her courage following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, died Thursday of cancer. She was 64.

Onassis, the widow of JFK and Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, died 10:15 p.m. at her apartment in New York City, said Nancy Tuckerman, a spokeswoman said.

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Her daughter, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, her son, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Maurice Tempelsman, her longtime companion, and several other family members were by her side.

The former first lady, who had been working as a book editor at Doubleday, had returned to her home Wednesday evening after being discharged at her own request from New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

Onassis had entered the hospital Monday for treatment of 'serious complications' in her ongoing bout with cancer of the lymph nodes.

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Onassis revealed in February she was suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In April, she was hospitalized for treatment of a bleeding ulcer, believed linked to the chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

If the Kennedys are the American version of royalty, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was the queen. She brought charm, glamour and artistic sophistication to the White House.

She was born Jacqueline Bouvier in the smart-set resort of Southampton, N.Y., on July 28, 1929, to Janet Lee Bouvier, daughter of a banker, and John 'Black Jack' Vernou Bouvier III, a New York stockbroker of French descent who was listed in the New York Social Register.

Jackie and her sister Lee were devastated when their parents divorced. They remained close to their father, whose fortunes were on the wane, although they lived with their mother and her wealthy second husband, Hugh Auchincloss of New York and Newport, R.I.

Onassis received a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University in 1951. In 1952, she took a job as a 'girl-on-the-street' photographer with the Washington Times-Herald and met young Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

She and Kennedy were married in Newport on Sept. 12, 1952, much to the satisfaction of the bridegroom's ambitious Irish Catholic father, Joseph P. Kennedy, who approved of her impeccable social background and the fact that she also was Catholic.

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The bride dutifully supported her husband's ascendant political career by appearing with him at rallies and receptions but declined to make speeches on his behalf, although other women of the Kennedy clan did.

When Kennedy was elected president in 1960, she blossomed as a glamorous and popular first lady who preferred redecorating the White House in period furnishings to taking on social issues in the style of Eleanor Roosevelt.

On a state visit to Paris, she so successfully charmed the French and their president, Gen. Charles de Gaulle, that her husband identified himself as 'the man who came to France with Mrs. Kennedy.'

She was riding with Kennedy in an open limousine in Dallas, Texas, when he was felled by an assassin's bullet on Nov. 22, 1963. As his brains spilled out onto her pink-skirted lap, she climbed onto the trunk of the car, trying to get help for her husband.

Film clips of that moment were seared into the minds of the American public, as was the picture of the new widow standing beside Lyndon B. Johnson, blood still on her skirt, while he took the oath of office succeeding her husband.

It was the end of an era known to the American public as Camelot.NEWLN: more

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Soon after the assassination, the former first lady moved to New York to raise her children, Caroline and John F. Kennedy Jr. She and Kennedy also had a son named Patrick who died in infancy.

In New York, Jackie developed a friendship with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, whom she had met through her sister.

The tycoon soon proposed, even though he had a longtime mistress, opera diva Maria Callas. Onassis offered the widow extraordinary security and the privacy she craved for herself and her children. She accepted and they were wed in Greece on Oct. 20, 1968.

For Aristotle Onassis, the marriage meant union with one of the world's most beautiful and respected women, an important trophy for an older man who was physically unattractive and had a reputation as an unscrupulous businessman.

The marriage was unpopular with the public and the new Mrs. Onassis's shopping sprees cast her in the light of a spendthrift wife determined to make serious inroads into her husband's fortune.

The couple separated but never divorced, and Jackie got a larger share of the tycoon's estate when he died in 1975 than he or his heiress-daughter Christina Onassis intended, thanks to intervention by the Kennedy family's attorneys.

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Shortly after Aristotle Onassis's death, she began a career in book publishing, working first for Viking Press and then for Doubleday, where she rose through the ranks to become a full editor in 1982. She edited nearly 50 books for Doubleday, ranging from Michael Jackson's memoirs and a book about John Lennon and Yoko Ono to a history of Russian costume.

For the past 30 years, Mrs. Onassis made her main home in a luxury apartment building on New York's upper Fifth Avenue. She also built a summer home on 375 acres of Martha's Vineyard, a resort island off the coast of Massachusetts, and bought a weekend home in New Jersey's hunt country where she indulged in her favorite sport, riding.

She devoted herself to raising her children, and won wide praise for her efforts as Caroline and John Jr. grew up without getting into the scrapes that dogged so many of the other young Kennedys.

Onassis fiercely guarded her privacy, successfully suing one photographer to keep him from getting too near to her, and most New Yorkers respected her desire to walk in Central Park or visit a fast food restaurant without being accosted. Shemade few formal public appearances. When she did, it was usually on behalf of a cause or charity that interested her.

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These included preservation of landmark architecture such as Grand Central Terminal, ballet and the Whitney Museum of American art. Events that benefited her pet charities got her personal attention and attendance, usually on the arm of her longtime companion, Belgian-born financier and international minerals tycoon Maurice Tempelsman.

She and Tempelsman were together since 1981 but were unable to marry because Tempelsman's wife refused to give him a divorce, citing religious reasons. Nevertheless, Tempelsman became Onassis's financial mentor, investing the $20 million fortune she wrested from the Onassis estate so that it grew to something like $100 million, according to friends.

Throughout all, Onassis remained dedicated to her children, seeing them through law school and encouraging them in their careers.

After Caroline and her husband, commercial designer Edwin Schlossberg, began their own family, Onassis became a doting grandmother to Rose, now 5, Tatiana, 4, and John Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg, 1.

Onassis also encouraged her son, John F. Kennedy Jr., when he came known as the 'hunk that flunked' after he failed the bar exam twice. John Jr. passed the bar on the third try and went on to a successful career as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan before resigning late last year.

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With an image enhanced by his handsome looks and romance with movie actress Daryl Hannah, John Jr. for years has been regarded as the heir of Camelot and the Kennedy legacy.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the queen of the Kennedy Camelot years who won worldwide admiration first for the glamour she brought to the White House and then for her courage following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, died Thursday of cancer. She was 64.

Onassis, the widow of JFK and Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, died 10:15 p.m. at her apartment in New York City, said Nancy Tuckerman, a spokeswoman.

Her daughter, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, her son, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Maurice Tempelsman, her longtime companion, and several other family members were by her side. U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy had left Washington for a visit with Onassis earlier in the evening.

Speaking by telephone from Onassis's apartment, Tuckerman said Onassis 'was conscious pretty much to the end.' Onassis reportedly then lapsed into a coma before she died.

Tuckerman released a statement that Onassis's death was 'due to non- Hodgkins lymphoma from which she had been suffering for the past four months.'

Tuckerman said Onassis had no parting message. Of those close to Onassis, Tuckerman said, 'They're all doing remarkably well, bearing up very well. It's stressful, but they're bearing up very well.'

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She said funeral services will be private and that memorial or other services had not been planned. 'The family has to get together and decide many questions,' Tuckerman said.

The former first lady, who had been working as a book editor at Doubleday, had returned to her home Wednesday evening after being discharged at her own request from New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

Onassis had entered the hospital Monday for treatment of 'serious complications' in her ongoing bout with cancer of the lymph nodes.

Onassis revealed in February she was suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In April, she was hospitalized for treatment of a bleeding ulcer, believed linked to the chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

The New York Times said the cancer had spread throughout her body and that her medical treatment, which included chemotherapy, had led to the development of acute pneumonia.

The pneumonia was discovered this week by doctors, after hopes had risen of the possibility for successful treatment of her cancer. Onassis had signed a living will preventing doctors from pursuing 'aggressive treatment if she became incurably ill,' the Times report said.

A spokeswoman for the St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church said Msgr. George Bardes heard Onassis's confession Thursday and administered the last rites.

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If the Kennedys are the American version of royalty, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was the queen. She brought charm, glamour and artistic sophistication to the White House.

She was born Jacqueline Bouvier in the smart-set resort of Southampton, N.Y., on July 28, 1929, to Janet Lee Bouvier, daughter of a banker, and John 'Black Jack' Vernou Bouvier III, a New York stockbroker of French descent who was listed in the New York Social Register.

Jackie and her sister Lee were devastated when their parents divorced. They remained close to their father, whose fortunes were on the wane, although they lived with their mother and her wealthy second husband, Hugh Auchincloss of New York and Newport, R.I.

Onassis received a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University in 1951. In 1952, she took a job as a 'girl-on-the-street' photographer with the Washington Times-Herald and met young Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

She and Kennedy were married in Newport on Sept. 12, 1952, much to the satisfaction of the bridegroom's ambitious Irish Catholic father, Joseph P. Kennedy, who approved of her impeccable social background and the fact that she also was Catholic.

The bride dutifully supported her husband's ascendant political career by appearing with him at rallies and receptions but declined to make speeches on his behalf, although other women of the Kennedy clan did.

Advertisement

When Kennedy was elected president in 1960, she blossomed as a glamorous and popular first lady who preferred redecorating the White House in period furnishings to taking on social issues in the style of Eleanor Roosevelt.

On a state visit to Paris, she so successfully charmed the French and their president, Gen. Charles de Gaulle, that her husband identified himself as 'the man who came to France with Mrs. Kennedy.'

She was riding with Kennedy in an open limousine in Dallas, Texas, when he was felled by an assassin's bullet on Nov. 22, 1963. As his brains spilled out onto her pink-skirted lap, she climbed onto the trunk of the car, trying to get help for her husband.

Film clips of that moment were seared into the minds of the American public, as was the picture of the new widow standing beside Lyndon B. Johnson, blood still on her skirt, while he took the oath of office succeeding her husband.

It was the end of an era known to the American public as Camelot.

Soon after the assassination, the former first lady moved to New York to raise her children, Caroline and John F. Kennedy Jr. She and Kennedy also had a son named Patrick who died in infancy.

Advertisement

In New York, Jackie developed a friendship with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, whom she had met through her sister.

The tycoon soon proposed, even though he had a longtime mistress, opera diva Maria Callas. Onassis offered the widow extraordinary security and the privacy she craved for herself and her children. She accepted and they were wed in Greece on Oct. 20, 1968.

For Aristotle Onassis, the marriage meant union with one of the world's most beautiful and respected women, an important trophy for an older man who was physically unattractive and had a reputation as an unscrupulous businessman.

The marriage was unpopular with the public and the new Mrs. Onassis's shopping sprees cast her in the light of a spendthrift wife determined to make serious inroads into her husband's fortune.

The couple separated but never divorced, and Jackie got a larger share of the tycoon's estate when he died in 1975 than he or his heiress-daughter Christina Onassis intended, thanks to intervention by the Kennedy family's attorneys.

Shortly after Aristotle Onassis's death, she began a career in book publishing, working first for Viking Press and then for Doubleday, where she rose through the ranks to become a full editor in 1982. She edited nearly 50 books for Doubleday, ranging from Michael Jackson's memoirs and a book about John Lennon and Yoko Ono to a history of Russian costume.

Advertisement

For the past 30 years, Mrs. Onassis made her main home in a luxury apartment building on New York's upper Fifth Avenue. She also built a summer home on 375 acres of Martha's Vineyard, a resort island off the coast of Massachusetts, and bought a weekend home in New Jersey's hunt country where she indulged in her favorite sport, riding.

She devoted herself to raising her children, and won wide praise for her efforts as Caroline and John Jr. grew up without getting into the scrapes that dogged so many of the other young Kennedys.

Onassis fiercely guarded her privacy, successfully suing one photographer to keep him from getting too near to her, and most New Yorkers respected her desire to walk in Central Park or visit a fast food restaurant without being accosted. She made few formal public appearances. When she did, it was usually on behalf of a cause or charity that interested her.

These included preservation of landmark architecture such as Grand Central Terminal, ballet and the Whitney Museum of American art. Events that benefited her pet charities got her personal attention and attendance, usually on the arm of her longtime companion, Belgian-born financier and international minerals tycoon Maurice Tempelsman.

Advertisement

She and Tempelsman were together since 1981 but were unable to marry because Tempelsman's wife refused to give him a divorce, citing religious reasons. Nevertheless, Tempelsman became Onassis's financial mentor, investing the $20 million fortune she wrested from the Onassis estate so that it grew to something like $100 million, according to friends.

Throughout all, Onassis remained dedicated to her children, seeing them through law school and encouraging them in their careers.

After Caroline and her husband, commercial designer Edwin Schlossberg, began their own family, Onassis became a doting grandmother to Rose, now 5, Tatiana, 4, and John Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg, 1.

Onassis also encouraged her son, John F. Kennedy Jr., when he came known as the 'hunk that flunked' after he failed the bar exam twice. John Jr. passed the bar on the third try and went on to a successful career as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan before resigning late last year.

With an image enhanced by his handsome looks and romance with movie actress Daryl Hannah, John Jr. for years has been regarded as the heir of Camelot and the Kennedy legacy.

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