The Two Kennedy Children Who Died Are Honored In 'Jackie'
In the early '60s, when President John F Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy were in office, they were the obsession of many Americans. Young, glamorous, and stylish to boot, JFK and Jackie were a whole new kind of President and First Lady. After JFK's assassination in 1963, the couple became even more iconic and cemented their reputation as one of the most famous First Couples ever. But they were also quite private in one specific area: their children, both living and dead, as seen in the new movie Jackie. JFK and Jackie had four children, but only two who survived to see the White House. Their deaths were tragic, and the two Kennedy children who died are honored in Jackie.
The director of the new film, Pablo Larrain, called Jackie Kennedy "the most unknown of known women ever" in an interview with RogerEbert.com. And, for the most part, this seems to have been by design. In a 2013 book, J.F.K.'s Last Hundred Days , Thurston Clarke wrote, via Vanity Fair, that Jackie herself likened both herself and her husband to "an iceberg" in with only a certain amount visible above the surface. Over the years, the public has learned more about President Kennedy and the First Lady through books, exposés, and movies. Jackie doesn't really attempt to uncover some new, salacious piece of presidential history, but the film does mention the two Kennedy children who died over the course of JFK's political career.
Over the course of her marriage, Jackie became pregnant five times, as reported in Steven Levingston's The Kennedy Baby: The Loss that Transformed JFK via The Huffington Post. First in 1955, long before JFK reached the White House, Jackie suffered a miscarriage after her first trimester. One year later, their first child was stillborn, a daughter to be named Arabella. Reportedly, JKF, on a boat at the time, only learned about the birth three days later and decided to stay on his cruise, though he apparently changed his mind after a Senator friend told him it would look bad if he did not go home. After that, in 1957, Jackie successfully gave birth to a baby girl, Caroline, and, in 1960, a son, John Jr., who was born premature. Jackie gave birth to the couple's fourth and last child in August of 1963. Unfortunately, Jackie went into labor early, and her newborn son Patrick was born with hyaline membrane disease, also known as Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). Patrick died 39 hours later.
Patrick's death is believed by many historians and writers to have brought Jackie and JFK closer together in the final months before his death. In his book, Levingston wrote that the previously cold couple emerged from the hospital after Patrick's death holding hands, a clear signal of increased affection between the two. "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," Secret Service agent Clint Hill told Levingston for his book.
Though only mentioned briefly in Jackie, it's clear that all of the Kennedy children affected the couple deeply, adding another layer to the increasingly complex portrait of JFK and Jackie.
Images: Fox Searchlight Pictures