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JFK Jr Tried to Save His Marriage & Did Not Want to Be like Other Kennedys Who Were Uncaring to Their Wives

Oyin Balogun
Mar 07, 2022
02:20 A.M.
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John F. Kennedy Jr. tried to be different from his family. However, the media covered his life, and his multiple relationships were in the spotlight, especially his romance with Carolyn Bessette.


John F. Kennedy Jr's love story with Carolyn Bessette became one of the most remarkable stories of his young life. The duo was considered the golden couple of the '90s. Although their relationship was short-lived, it was nonetheless passionate.

The couple met in 1992 while Bessette worked for Calvin Klein, and John Jr. had just come in for a fitting. Bessette attended to him, and they had an instant connection. At the time, John Jr. was dating actress Daryl Hannah. 

John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy at the "Brite Nite Whitney" Fundraising Gala on July 16, 2000 [left], John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette attend a function at the Hilton Hotel.[right] | Source: Getty Images


The couple became an item in 1994 after Bessette had quit her job and John Jr. was getting ready to start his career as editor-in-chief of George magazine. 

The duo found each other attractive, and shortly after they began dating, they had a secret engagement. However, the media focused on the Kennedys, though he wanted his affairs to be more discreet.

Studio portrait of American lawyer and magazine publisher John F Kennedy Jr (1960 - 1999) | Source: Getty Images


Close sources revealed that John Jr. found Bessette more interesting than any other woman he had been with. She was fierce and gentle and could stand up to him if she felt he was wrong.

Speaking of their relationship, a close friend said: "He was a guy who could never stand to be bored, and with her, he was never bored." Besides being beautiful and well-styled, Bessette gave the Kennedy flag bearer the comfort and love he needed to cope with his past.


John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy arrive at the annual John F. Kennedy Library Foundation dinner and Profiles in Courage awards in honor of the former President's 82nd Birthday, Sunday, May 23, 1999 | Source: Getty Images


Sources close to Bessette described her as funny, clever, and warm. Her charming personality was enough to capture John Jr's heart and make him want to build a life with her.

Bessette was born in 1966 in White Plains, New York, to a New York City public school administrator. Her parents divorced while she was young, and she grew up with her mom and stepfather, Richard Freeman.

She had the looks to become a successful model, but things didn't seem to work for her. So, she chose a life as a saleswoman for Calvin Klein and rose through the ranks to become the director of publicity for the company's shop in Manhattan.


Carolyn Bessette Kennedy smiles for the cameras as she arrives at a benefit dinner,| Source: Getty Images

Inside the Kennedy family, Bessette distinguished herself with a relatively firm approach. She was outspoken and bold and could hardly avoid media attention.


Bessette did not consider herself the typical Kennedy girl. The book "The Kennedy Heirs: John, Caroline, and the New Generation - A Legacy of Tragedy and Triumph" captured her relationship with the Kennedys and what made her different.

She reportedly said of herself: "I'm not that pathetic Kennedy girl who'll stay home with the kids while her husband is out screwing around." However, it was her fierceness that John Jr. found attractive. 


John F. Kennedy Jr. (1960 - 1999) with his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, USA, circa 1995.| Source: Getty Images


John Jr.'s romance with Bessette was an incredible love story, well-captured in the book "The Kennedy Heirs" by J. Randy Taraborrelli. Like other couples, close friends said"They would love hard, and fight hard."

Their relationship featured several high moments that defined an era. However, Bessette did not quickly fling herself into John Jr.'s arms when he first popped the question. Instead, sources said she waited three weeks to accept his proposal. 

John Jr. and his heartthrob made it to the aisle to exchange their vows on September 26, 1996. The event was held inside the First African Baptist Church on Cumberland Island, erected by enslaved people in 1893.


John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette pose for a picture at the Annual Fundraising Gala March 9, 1999 | Source: Getty Images

Rather than choose a luxurious location befitting his status as a Kennedy, John Jr. granted Bessette her request for a private ceremony. The couple chose a remote setting with no air conditioning.


Their wedding was natural but elegant. Bessette rocked a classic pearl-colored silk crepe floor-length wedding gown designed by Narciso Rodriguez.

The wedding also included a star-studded 40-man guest list. The attendees included Sen. Ted Kennedy and his wife, Vicki, and former First Lady, Jackie Kennedy.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn walk with their dog January 1, 1997 | Source: Getty Images


John Jr. was glad to be married to the woman who made him the happiest man alive. Several pictures from the occasion showed the magazine publisher smiling heartily, as though he had waited long for the moment. 

John once said he had long known that Bessette would be his wife. He confided to a friend that he had a deep knowing that she was the one for him on meeting the publicist for the first time. However, their love was not all rosy and smooth sailing.

From the onset of their friendship and relationship, the couple struggled to blend their experience. John Jr. wanted Bessette to get to know him outside of his family ties, but she struggled to fit in with his powerful family.


John F. Kennedy, Jr. editor of George magazine, gives his wife Carolyn a kiss on the cheek during the annual White House Correspondents dinner May 1, 1999 | Source: Getty Images

They both came from different worlds but tried to make things work. John Jr. was the son of the assassinated US President, John F. Kennedy. His family was considered American royalty, whereas Bassette had a more reserved upbringing.


Bessette was reportedly uncomfortable being around the Kennedys. Furthermore, she struggled to cope with the constant harassment from the paparazzi, which John Jr. was used to.

Soon, the couple began to face troubles in their marriage as Bessette struggled with the press while the late lawyer was grieving the death of his cousin, Anthony Radziwill. The increased stress led Bessette into the company of an ex-boyfriend.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette attend a function at the Hilton Hotel. | Source: Getty Images


She reached out to her friend for comfort, but things quickly took another turn, and they shared a kiss. Shocked by what had happened, Bessette explained things to John Jr, and they decided to go for counseling to save their marriage. A close friend noted that:

“John didn’t want to be one of those Kennedy men who didn’t care how his wife feels.”


Front page of the Daily News dated July 18, 1999 | Source: Getty Images


 the final days of their lives, John Jr. and Bessette worked hard to restore their marriage. The couple knew they were in a bad place, and before their deaths, their future remained unclear. They lived in separate houses; however, they still loved each other.

John Jr., in particular, had a series of rough days before his death. His magazine, George, was flopping, and he battled a severe ankle injury that caused him enormous pain. 

Bessette's sister, Lauren, tried to mitigate peace in the Kennedys' home by asking them out for a lunch date. During the date, the couple suggested that Lauren travel with them to John Jr.'s cousin, Rory Kennedy's wedding. However, neither party made it out of the trip.

1993 file photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. at the Various Venues | Source: Getty Images


John Jr. was the pilot of the plane that crashed, killing all on board, including Bessette and Lauren. His flying inexperience was said to have played a massive role in their untimely deaths.

Many fans and friends wondered what John Jr. and Bessette's marriage would have become if they had survived. There were signs that they could have caught their spark again and resumed their romance, but that story never got to end.

Also, others believe that if John Jr. were alive, he would have climbed the political ladder like his father and become president someday. Sources believe he had what it took to unite his country.


John Kennedy, Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy stroll together near their TriBeCa loft on 18 October, 1997 | Photo: Getty Images

Close friends confirmed that the former lawyer had begun considering politics and running for New York's governorship elections. However, the world never saw that happen.

One of his close friends said, "John had the potential to unite a nation that has become so divided." It's been over two decades since his death, but he remains widely loved by those who know him.

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