A glimpse into the childhood of the woman Frank Sinatra called “America’s Queen.”
Jacqueline Bouvier had the look of blueblood long before she was hailed by the American public as an icon of high style and elegance. Perhaps because her father told her that she descended from aristocracy, Jackie exuded privilege. Although her father’s claim turned out to be a myth-one among so many throughout her life, she learned that the ‘if you build it they will come’ allure would prove powerful – almost as powerful as reality.
Jackie’s home was not a happy one while she was growing up. Her family life was tense and difficult due in large part to her father, ‘Black Jack,’ who was known for his movie star looks and serial philandering. With her troubles at home, Jackie learned quickly how to control herself and her emotions, and remain stoic in public. Her great solace was the company of animals. Biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin characterized her as ‘trusting less in people than in animals and in nature.’
At her home in Southampton, New York, Jackie followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an accomplished equestrian. Riding, a sport reserved for the wealthy and prominent, became one of her greatest passions and provided her an escape from the people that complicated her life. From her early days, Jackie would also be found at dog competitions, clearly taking pleasure at showing off her canine companions.
It was at these events that Bert Morgan, a famed society photographer, captured moments in which the future First Lady stared at the camera with self confidence, strength, and a look of what almost appears as an omnipotent understanding of the things to come – the extreme joys she would experience and tragedies that would befall her. More tellingly, though, he captures a few moments where Jackie let down her guard, and was just the little girl behind the myth.
Young Jackie, a book of photos taken by society photographer, Bert Morgan, with introduction written by Olivia Harrison, offers us a glimpse of the girl who became one of the most powerful and remembered women in the world. Young Jackie, (Viking Studio 2002), is available at bookstores now. ($24.95).
Photos © Bert Morgan from Young Jackie by Olivia Harrison (Viking Studio, September 2002).
– Jennifer Cattaui