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Please be advised on. Get ready to clutch those Jackie O pearls because Shachar Oregon swear. It's September 12th, 1953, in Newport, Rhode Island, Jacqueline Bouvier is about to walk down the aisle at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. She's holding a beautiful bouquet of pink and white orchids and miniature gardenias. She nervously straightens her wedding dress. The ivory silk taffeta gown is made from almost 50 yards of fabric. The gowns, portrait neckline accentuates her collarbone and its tight corset, hugs her frame, the full bouffant skirt, flounces.
Every time she moves, she looks beautiful, but something doesn't feel right. Jackie's been told that this should be the happiest day of her life, but so far she doesn't feel that way at all. Oh, does she have cold feet? No, it's actually not that. It's more that this wedding is nothing like she envisioned. Soon after she accepted Jack's proposal, his father, Joe Senior, took control over the wedding. After all, for him, Jack's wedding is just a stepping stone to the White House.
He doesn't care that this is supposed to be Jackie's special day. This looks like a wedding, but it's really a campaign event.
So while Jackie wanted an intimate affair with just family and close friends, Joe Senior invited 600 diplomats, senators and associates. While Jackie wanted a wedding that wasn't to Catholic, Joe Senior went right ahead and booked the archbishop of Boston to perform the ceremony. He even got the pope to give them his blessing. And while Jackie wanted a sleek modern dress like the one she saw in Paris, Joe Senior demanded she wear a more traditional gown. Wow. I guess Joe Senior woke up and chose violence.
He really did. And she hates it. She thinks, Joe seniors dress makes her look like a lampshade. But Jackie does put her foot down over one thing. She insists that her father, Blackjack Bouvier, walk her down the aisle. Blackjack is a bit of a drinker and is gambling is out of control, too.
No one thinks Jackie should invite him. They're all afraid he'll embarrass the couple in front of all their important guests. But Jackie adores her father and always has.
She demands that he's the one who gives her away if she can't have the wedding she wanted or the ceremony she wanted, or how even the dress she wanted, she's at least going to have this.
The Italian tenor begins to sing Ave Maria.
All eight hundred guests rise in arms, slips through Jackie's, and she relaxes for a moment.
But when she turns to look at her father's face, she sees her stepfather, Hugh de Auchincloss.
Instead, Jackie forces a smile, but her heart is breaking. She has a pretty good suspicion about why her father isn't there.
Black Jack is sensitive about his squandered fortune attending this dazzling affair that he couldn't pay for would have hurt his pride. He probably drank through the night and passed out in his hotel room. Jackie doesn't have time to cry or scream or run to the bathroom and sob.
All she can do now is swallow the sadness and keep her face so still that nobody can guess what she's feeling.
Her stepfather nods at her. It's time she lowers her grandmother's veil over her face. She takes a slow step. Then another slow step down the aisle. Hundreds of eyes turned to her. They search her face for the joy they're sure she must be feeling. Jackie pushes the sadness down her throat, forces it down to her stomach.
At the end of the aisle, Jackie sees Jack waiting for her. Even though Jack's 36 years old, he looks so much younger in this moment, his mop of reddish hair is half wild.
His suit can't disguise how skinny he is. He looks so nervous and eager and she feels her smile.
Growing the pit in her stomach turns warm and she lets go of her frustration and sadness. She tells herself that this jack will be different.
This Jack will always be there for her.
This Jack she can count on. So, Erica, have you spent time bored shopping or even anxiety shopping during quarantine and occasionally asked yourself, why did I just buy that or who have I become?
OK, you definitely know the answer to that. All right. Well, then I have the podcast for you. Add to Cart from Lemon Out of Media is a super fun series that explores modern day consumerism. Each week, comedian colorful iSEC and journalist Sujan Poch unleash their unbiased opinions on products, fads, celebrities, philosophies and anything else on their mind.
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Add to cart from Lebanon. A media has new episodes dropping each Tuesday. Subscribe to add to cart on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Do you ever question what you eat, where it's from? If it's safe at Consumer Reports, these things keep them up at night. Then they get to work. Their team exposes toxins in food and even water, then demands change from all brands. It's only fair that you know what's on your plate.
So make sure what you eat is safe and healthy because food should fuel us, not make us sick. And if we are what we eat, it better be good. Learn more at Consumer Reports. AGMA Food. That's Consumer Reports. Dogma Food. From Thundery, I'm Alicia Skidmore Williams, and I'm Brooke Zafrin, and this is Even The Rich. In our last episode, Jacqueline Bouvier met Jackie Kennedy. Finally, here was a man she could have a big, exciting life with.
But Jack's life is already so full, there may not be enough room for her.
This is Episode two, Keeping House Shapleigh.
It's September 14th, 1953, two days after their wedding. The newlyweds land in Acapulco, Mexico. Jackie is glowing. She's so excited. The wedding was for everyone else, but the honeymoon, that's for them. And Jackie will finally have Jack's undivided attention.
No Senate, no Joe Senior in his ear, nothing to distract him.
It's just the two of them tucked away in a pink stone villa nestled into the red clay cliffs for the next two weeks. Oh, that sounds romantic. It is. And it's just what they need to reconnect emotionally. They go deep sea fishing and Jack catches an enormous sailfish.
They water ski around the bay. They relax and read books. Jackie translates for Jack when he wants to speak to the waiters.
He can't speak Spanish to save his life. They laugh and joke. It's total marital bliss and they lived happily ever after almost the two weeks in paradise fly by. But luckily, the honeymoon isn't quite over. They've planned to continue on to California and spend a few days in Los Angeles. Then they're going to pop up to Santa Barbara to meet up with Jack's Navy pal and his wife. But on this leg of the trip, Jack is different, distant.
He starts to pull away from Jackie. He goes from being self-deprecating and fun to standoffish and secretive. He and his Navy pal huddle in the corner together, always whispering. Then out of nowhere, he asks Jackie to fly home without him. OK, it's literally been two weeks. What could possibly be the problem? Well, I'm sure Jackie assumes that he's back to his old ways. Remember, this is the guy who gets migraines. If he doesn't have enough sex, Jackie is shocked and heartbroken.
Is he asking her to leave their honeymoon so he can see other women? She can't be sure. But either way, it's a slap in the face. So Jackie refuses. She puts the kibosh on whatever Jackie has planned. They returned to the East Coast together as husband and wife, while Jackie never wanted to be a traditional housewife, she always imagined that they'd settle down, buy a house and start a family. You know, all the steps married couples usually took back then to start their lives.
But Jack isn't on the same page. He thinks she should move in with his parents at the family compound in Hyannis Port while he lives and works in D.C..
Oh, what? Every girl dreams of living alone with her in-laws.
Truly the dream. Yeah. So who ends? Well, Jackie moves in with the in-laws and Jack gets to have the best of both worlds.
He lives like a bachelor and still has a wife to come home to. Even though he's 12 years older than Jackie, he's not ready to play house yet. And it's not hard to imagine that Jack's restlessness stems from his childhood as a kid. He spent every other day in bed. He could hear his brothers and sisters playing outside without him. He lived in a constant state of FAMO, so whenever he was able to get out of bed, he'd say yes to any opportunity that came his way or any woman.
And then back into bed they go.
But Jack's health problems aren't behind him. In college, a football injury totaled his back and his heroics during World War Two made things even worse. He's been living with crippling pain ever since, but he refuses to show it.
Any weakness could hurt his political career, to quote his longtime political adviser, Dave Powers. Jack would hobble on crutches and grit his teeth while walking. But in front of a crowd, Jack would stand erect and smile, looking as fit and healthy as the light heavyweight champion of the world. And to top it all off, Jack is hiding an even bigger secret about his health. When he was 30, Jack collapsed on a visit to England and was diagnosed with Addison's disease, a condition of the adrenal glands.
The side effects are extreme fatigue, weight loss, fainting, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, darkening of your skin.
OK, wait, I hate to stop you, but is that why JFK always looks so tan?
Actually, yes. But the rest of the symptoms aren't as pleasant. When he was diagnosed, he was given a year to live. And even though he survived, Jack still lives every day like it's his last. He's absolutely convinced he's going to die young, which is why not long after his honeymoon, Jack makes a risk not even the worst gambler would bet on. It's October 23, 1954, in New York City, 37 year old Jack hears voices, but he can't see anything.
He tries to call out who's there, but he can't move his lips. One of the voices sounds like Jackie that calms him down a little, but it's followed by an unfamiliar man's voice. Jack starts to make out the words our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Oh, no. Yeah. A priest is reading Jack his last rites the last few days come rushing back to him.
Jack checked into the hospital for special surgery on the Upper East Side three days ago to undergo back surgery. He'd signed up for a new cutting edge orthopedic procedure that involved bolting a metal plate onto his lumbar spine. Oh, that sounds very unpleasant. Extremely. And it's beyond dangerous, especially for someone like Jack Addison's disease makes it a lot harder for him to bounce back from surgeries. He's given a 50 percent chance at surviving the procedure. Nobody thought Jack should go through with it on the day of the surgery.
Joe Senior begs him to reconsider. He tells him that he's already lost one son. He can't stand to lose another. But Jack simply says, I'd rather be dead than spend the rest of my life hobbling on crutches and paralyzed by pain.
Jack thinks his dad for his concern and lets the orderly wheel him off to the lower. The three hour surgery goes off without a hitch, but the recovery process, that's another story. Jack develops an infection that won't respond to antibiotics. His fever spikes and then he slips into a coma as the priest finishes the Lord's Prayer and makes the sign of the cross over his ailing body. Jack lies there wondering if this will be the thing that kills him and if it's not while his back better damn well be good as new.
By some miracle, Jack makes it through the night and out of the coma, but the doctors aren't optimistic. Jack survived, but he may never walk again. Jackie tries to be optimistic enough for everyone. Maybe if he just gets the right care, he'll recover. She's determined to show her worth as a wife, both to Jack and the Kennedy family. After Jack's release from the hospital, he's loaded into a private jet and flown to the Kennedy's Palm Beach estate, where a wing of the house has been turned into a makeshift triage center there.
Jackie assumes all care for Jack. She helps him eat, bathes him and cleans his incision. Jack is truly a saint because biographers describe the wound as a gaping hole filled with pus. OK, that sentence should have a content warning.
I don't disagree. And Jackie looks after his mental health as gently and patiently as she looks after his physical health. When Jack starts slipping into a depression, she encourages him to start writing again. Maybe he can do something with that idea he had about politicians who've crossed party lines. She'll even help him with the research.
Jack agrees. And as he writes, his mood lightens. He starts to feel like himself again. 1956, he releases Profiles in Courage and it goes on to win the Pulitzer Prize and Jacky's there every step of the way, it feels like they're finally living life together as a team and it's magical. But even a Pulitzer can't stop Jack's back pain. A year after the surgery, his doctors determined he has to go back under the knife to remove the plate.
Once again, Jackie takes control of the situation. She finds a new doctor with a less invasive approach. This doctor gives Jack Trigger Point injections that ease his pain and may actually help him get back on his feet and out onto the Senate floor. Day by day, their life gets back on track.
In 1957, they finally move out of the in-laws into their own place in the D.C. area. OK, progress, right? And life almost starts to look halfway normal. On weekdays, Jack makes speeches on the Senate floor and on weekends they hit the social circuit. But as Jack starts getting better, so does his libido. Jack and Jackie go to parties together and suddenly Jack's disappeared. He snuck off with some girl he's just met and Jackie's left just standing there.
Siri play Womanizer by Britney Spears. It's humiliating, but even worse than that, it's lonely. She finally had a small taste of what life could really be like together. But it's like he's already forgotten. And he's not just ditching her at parties. He's also working later and later, hours or so he claims. But Jackie starts fighting back. The role of housewife never appealed to her, but she'll learn how to be one if it gets her more time with Jack.
So she starts popping by his office with home cooked meals. She befriends his longtime secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, hoping Evelyn might push Jack out the door in time for dinner. She even enrolls in French cooking classes to make sure those dinners are as tempting as possible.
Does it work? Nope. Nothing makes a dent. Jackie, please just leave. Go. I promise I will pack your bags for you. She does consider it, but then Jackie learns she's pregnant.
They've been trying to conceive since their wedding day three years ago. Poor Jackie's had to watch as her sister in law popped babies out like Tic Tacs in the span of five years, Bobby's wife has already given birth to four children. My God, that poor woman's vagina. She'll eventually go on to have a total of 11 kids. And Jackie's been praying for just one. She's hopeful that maybe with a child in the picture, Jack will find his way back to her.
It's August 23, 1956, in Newport, Rhode Island. It's early in the morning, and the sound of roosters crowing echoes through Jackie's room at her stepfather summerhouse.
Jackie opens her eyes and wishes she could sleep just a little bit longer. But the roosters have spoken. She swings her legs over the side of the bed and looks down over her belly at her swollen feet. They're aching and throbbing.
And she didn't even do very much the last couple of days. She and her mother bought a few things for the nursery, but mostly she's just puttered around the house.
Jackie's been trying to stay off her feet and take it easy.
Since the Democratic convention a week ago, she accompanied Jack to Chicago, even though she really didn't want to.
She told him she needed to rest in her third trimester. Yeah, it takes a lot of energy to create a whole person. Yeah, but Jack was adamant he wanted his wife by his side. It was important for his image, so she agreed.
But Jackie was right. The whole thing was too much. It was a total madhouse and the hours were long. Jackie can still feel the exhaustion from that trip. She is a cute little stuffed animal. She couldn't resist buying and smiles. She wants to show it to Jack, but she can't. She couldn't even get him on the phone if she wanted to. He's on a yacht somewhere in the French Riviera. Jackie tries to put Jack out of her mind, but as she stands up, a sharp pain surges through her a cramp.
She cries out and reaches for her stomach. Another cramp. Jackie looks down and then she sees it. Blood. Before she can process what's happening, Jackie's rushed to the hospital where she undergoes an emergency C-section. She wakes up to see a man sitting next to her. He looks like Jack a lot like Jack, but as her eyes focus, she realizes it's his brother, Bobby. He takes her hand and tells her how sorry he is. He tells her the baby was stillborn.
The daughter she was going to name, Arabella, didn't make it.
Jackie is numb. The grief is just too much. And Jack, he's not even there. She was eight months pregnant and she begged him not to leave even for 10 days. As she lays in her hospital bed all alone, Jackie isn't sure she'll ever be able to forgive her husband. She's not sure she'll even be able to look at him ever again. She's not sure if this marriage is worth the constant heartache. We get support from Expensify, Expensify is the most widely used expense management platform in the world with over 10 million users.
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La, la, la, la, la. In 1956, Jackie and Jackie's marriage is hanging on by a thread. It took days for Jack to return from the south of France to be by his grieving wife side. And Jackie's livid. Even Jackie's mother, Janet, who loves Jack, especially his money, thinks enough is enough.
It's time for Jackie to leave Jack. Yeah, I'm Team Janet on this one. Sam. Joe Senior also sees how bad the marriage has gotten. So he offers Jackie one million dollars to stay with his son.
It's like a much less sexy version of Indecent Proposal. But does she take it?
She thinks about it. But first she calls Joe Senior and deadpans just one million dollars. Why not 10?
Bless her for still having a sense of humor, but also given everything we've learned about this marriage. Fair question.
I know Jackie still loves Jack, but she doesn't trust him to come through when she really needs him. He's incapable of putting her first. He can't go a month or maybe even a week without stepping out on her. She might as well be her mom married to blackjack, except she knows Jack is different in one important way. He's brilliant and determined. She often pictures him as a sick kid, stuck in bed, filling his days with books about Winston Churchill and the fight for democracy.
Politics isn't just a sport for him. It's a calling. And if she leaves him all his work, the political career he's been building, brick by brick will come tumbling down. That's why Joe seniors offering her a million dollars. She has the power to undo everything they've done. But Jackie can't bring herself to do that to Jack.
Despite how careless and selfish he's been, she still wants to protect him so she stays, which gives Joe Senior everything he needs to make his next big move.
It's Thursday, November 22nd, 1956, in Hyannis Port. The Kennedys have all gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday. Heavy rain has been falling all day and a crisp cold breeze blows in off the rough Atlantic. After dinner, Jack and Joe Senior quietly moved to the small study off the living room. Jack looks around at the familiar surroundings. How many big decisions have they made here? He can't even begin to count.
But tonight they're making the biggest one yet. They're here to settle whether Jack should run for president. Jaycox first making the case for no, there's never been a Catholic president. He doesn't yet have the support of the party leadership. He should lay low, stay in the Senate. Another couple of terms. His father listens patiently. He has an answer. For every one of Jack's concerns, being Catholic might be an advantage. Joe's money could help. As day turns to dusk and dusk turns to darkness, the two go back and forth until Joe makes his final pitch.
You want to read a book?
Oh, you know, I would just remember, this country is not a private preserve for Protestants. There's a whole new generation out there and it's filled with the sons and daughters of immigrants from all over the world. And those people are going to be mighty proud that one of their own is running for president. And that pride will be your spur. It will give you a campaign, an intensity we've never seen in public life.
OK, good speech. I mean, at least the way I read it, I'm sure he did fine, too. Well, it definitely gets Jack thinking he isn't even forty, but he's always been haunted by the sense that he's running out of time. Maybe his dad's right. Maybe it's time to reach for the gold ring. Jack looks up at his dad and smiles. Brooke, you want to read what Jack says next?
Well, Dad, I guess there's only one question left. When do we start?
It's the spring of nineteen fifty seven in Georgetown, Jack and Jackie have just bought a new house and Jackie is channeling all of her energy into making it hers. OK, wait, I'm sorry. I just realized something you never told me of.
Jackie takes that money. Hmm. Yeah. According to her friends, including Gore Vidal, Jackie totally takes the money.
If she can't have the home life she wants, she's at least going to start living in the home she wants. And now she's got a good chunk of Joe's change to buy the perfect one.
She always wanted to be a woman of the world to lead a big and interesting life. And she starts doing that in her own way. Within these four walls, Jack is away, giving speeches across the country to start drumming up support, visiting his mistresses and drawing up battle plans with his dad. Meanwhile, Jackie is sending away for art pieces from France, comparing fabrics from London and filling the house with an eclectic mix of comfortable chairs and museum worthy cadenzas.
And she takes special care decorating the third floor nursery because Jackie is pregnant again. Oh, OK. So wait, how she feeling about that? Happy, worried, I'd say nervous and protective. But this time around she has a plan. She's not going to let Jack talk her into campaigning with him. She's going to stay at home and lay low until she has the baby. Jack can do whatever he wants, but she's going to slow down.
It's November 27, 1957, Jackie is lying in a hospital bed in the New York Cornell Medical Center. She's drowsy and disoriented after her surgery. It takes her a while to get her bearings. As the anesthesia wears off, her hand instinctively goes to her belly. Panic sets in the baby, her eyes fly open.
She sees Jack standing there, his back towards her her body tenses and worry that something's wrong. But then Jack turns around with the largest, happiest smile she's ever seen on him. And in his arms is the baby, a beautiful little girl named Caroline Lee Kennedy. No, I'm not crying.
You are. Only Jack walks over and hands little Caroline to her.
Jackie's heart swells as she holds her daughter for the first time. After so many years of trying and the stillbirth, she worried she'd never be able to have children. But here's Caroline. Healthy, perfect, happy, and so is Jack. Something changes for him when Caroline is born. When he holds his tiny daughter in his arms, he falls madly in love. As Jackie recovers from her C-section, Jack takes to fatherhood like a fish to water. Becoming a dad unlocks something inside of him.
Even his friends take notice. One of them says Caroline's birth was a magical thing for Jack. It changed him. I'm not sure he would have ever had what it takes that extra sparkle to make it all the way to the White House. Finally, Jack's kissing babies finally, and the baby brings Jack and Jackie closer together. Jack is in all of his wife and smitten with his new daughter. Everything slows down in those first few weeks of Caroline's life.
A doting husband and a beautiful child. And there's no place Jack would rather be than with his family.
But Jackie knows this idyllic family time filled with snuggles and soft baby cooing is limited. She knows it's about to come to an abrupt halt with Jack's campaign ramping up into overdrive. It's September 26, 1960, and Jack Kennedy is sitting on the soundstage of a CBS television studio in Chicago, his dark suit is pressed, not a wrinkle to be found. His hair is perfectly quaffed. Tonight is a big night. The cameras are about to roll on the first ever live televised presidential debate.
First ever, first ever. Television is still a relatively new medium, but Jack's hoping this debate will put him on equal footing with his opponent, the Republican candidate, Vice President Richard Nixon. Never heard of them. While Jack's had success as a senator, Nixon has had a much grander and visible role as Eisenhower's VP for two terms now. And support for Nixon has been surging in the last few days. So Jack really needs to show the world that he has what it takes to be commander in chief.
But while Nixon has been a champion debater since middle school, it wasn't that long ago that Jack was stumbling over his speeches and racing through words and sounding like a high pitched robot.
After every speech, he'd do a slow mo replay with his father. Where did he go wrong? Where can he improve? And slowly, Jack started getting better.
Jack takes the same approach to this debate. It's all about diligence and attention to detail. He flies into Chicago a couple of days before the debate to meet with a CBS producer and ask him every question he can think of. He comes out of the meeting with a list of what to do for a television appearance.
Jack quickly runs down the list and has had one where a dark suit it'll pop against the background check. Two appearances matter. Be cleanly shaven, tan and well rested. Chuck, Chuck three. The viewers will want to feel like you're talking right to them. So remember to look at the cameras.
Check, check, check.
As the debate starts, both men are confident and poised, but that doesn't matter.
Nixon didn't do his research. He's wearing a light suit that blends into the background. He has a five o'clock shadow and some hastily applied makeup that's starting to melt off under the hot camera lights.
And he's making eye contact with the reporters in the audience who are asking questions instead of the camera. For the viewers at home, his eyes constantly dart around. He looks untrustworthy, sweaty and tired. It doesn't matter that Nixon's giving thoughtful answers on TV. It's all about image and how you present yourself. That's what viewers judge you on. Welcome to being a woman.
Tell me about it. But Jack nails it in front of 70 million viewers. He just might have a shot at the White House after all.
It's the morning of November 9th, 1960, Jackie walks down the beach at Hyannis Port in her nightgown and a hastily thrown on coat, the cold wind whips back her hair and she holds her collar closed to stay warm. Last night was the election and it was a nail biter.
One moment Jack was ahead. The next moment, Nixon pulled out in front. It went back and forth all night. Jackie eventually retreated to her bedroom to sleep. She's pregnant again, eight months pregnant. And all of this uncertainty is exhausting. Yeah, I bet. But just a couple of minutes ago at 9:00 a.m., the final tally came in Jack's one while Jack stepped out front to talk to the reporters waiting for him, Jackie slipped out the back.
Now she's wandering the beach, lost in thought. Deep down, she didn't really think Jack could win, not on his first try. He's only 43 and she's only 31. They were supposed to have more time to be a family.
In the distance, she can hear the Kennedy clan assembling for a group photo. Their voices are loud and happy. This is the day they've all been living for. And then she can hear them say, Where's Jackie? Someone points to her and she stays where she is, as Jack comes running, even from a distance, she can see that he's elated. He pulls her into a tight hug and she lets him. I couldn't have done it without you.
He whispers to her, this is his big day. And Jackie's been by his side for the whole journey. But slowly, she breaks their embrace. She doesn't even realize she's talking as she asks what will happen to us now? We'll be OK, Jack says. But Jack is not so sure. This might be Jack's crowning glory, but it's going to require a lot from her, too, and she's not sure their marriage can survive it. As the first hard seltzer with antioxidant vitamin C, our sponsor, Vizi, brings something unique and delicious to the table.
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And while she is feeling faint, she's not actually sick. Jackie's being led on a tour of the White House by the outgoing first lady, Mamie Eisenhower, and she still has 20 more bathrooms to visit. I mean, I feel like once you've seen one, you've kind of seen them all totally. But this is not a customizable tour. Mamie's going to drag Jackie up and down the six storey, 55000 square foot house to see all 132 rooms. And let's not forget the three kitchen, swimming pool and gardens.
This tour is happening on the same exact day Jackie was released from the hospital just two weeks ago. She gave birth to John F. Kennedy Jr., John John and his sister, Caroline. He was born via C-section.
Jackie still has stitches in her stomach. She's not even supposed to be on her feet. I couldn't, Jackie, just be like, hey, could you give me a couple of weeks? You would think. But Jackie doesn't want to offend me. And the public already thinks she's a snob with her big bouffant hair and French clothes. They think she'd rather be European than American and that she doesn't care about being first lady. Jackie's learned from Jack's campaign that when it comes to politics, appearances really do matter.
So Jackie doesn't push back. She just walks through the pain. Plaster's a smile on her face and follows Mamie in and out of every room. The place is kind of a dump. The lighting is bad, the rugs are threadbare. Drinking fountains dot the walls.
The White House was originally meant to be a house, but over the years it turned into a work from home situation. And now most of it looks like a rundown office. None of the furniture matches because when presidents move out, they take most of their stuff with them.
There's nothing that actually belonged to Lincoln in the Lincoln Bedroom. The few nice pieces other presidents accidentally left behind need to be repaired or reupholstered.
Jackie nods politely as Mamie shows her each room. But this place is all of her worst fears about the next four years come to life. It's been a very long time since anyone's treated the White House as a proper home. The only personal touch Mamie gave to the place was painting a couple dozen walls.
Her favorite color, a very Pepto Bismullah shade of pink, more like Pepto, abysmal.
But when Jackie gets home, she's exhausted and defeated. She collapses onto her bed and balls into her pillow. But then when she's all cried out, she starts thinking, maybe there's an opportunity here, one that she's uniquely suited for. Maybe it's time to make a new home and show the world exactly what she's capable of.
On January 20th, 1961, Jackie, Jack, Caroline and John John move into the White House and Jackie rolls up her sleeves and gets to work fixing up their home. She paints the walls and refinishing the floors.
Now, that's a show I would watch on HDTV. Oh, hell, yeah.
And Jackie gets to work clearing the house of all the discount furnishings as she replaces the couch in the side tables. She wants each piece to have a purpose.
Oh, does she do the Kamari method? Does this side table spark joy? It's a little more than that.
Jackie says everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to redecorate it. A word I hate. It must be restored and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.
Basically, Jackie wants to turn the White House into both a proper home and a museum of the presidency. So she assembles a fine arts committee of scholars and antique buffs to help her. She starts acquiring paintings. She hires a curator to catalog the furniture. She finds experts to refurbish older pieces. She scours the White House from top to bottom, looking for hidden gems. She finds French flatware from James Monroe, a desk from Queen Victoria and in one out of the way, men's room, a collection of century old busts.
OK, I'm not sure I want to know why they're in the men's room.
Yeah, me neither. But all of us wasn't as easy as it sounds. Jackie had to fight for the restoration every step of the way. Jack and his advisers needed winning over and every dime she spent had to be raised from donors.
After one year, Jackie feels ready to let everyone see what she's been up to. And the best way to do that is to invite the world into her home. On January 15th, 1962, Jackie guides a reporter and a camera crew through the same room she found so dreary. But now they're vibrant and full of history. For almost an hour, the. Reporter asked Jackie questions about the architecture, the design, the paintings and the furniture, and without notes, Jackie gives long, detailed answers.
So I guess she can add historic presidential restoration to the list of languages she's fluent in. Right. When the tour airs on primetime, 46 million people tune in to watch. It's the first time the public gets to see this side of Jackie and they love her. Time magazine praises her expert performance and she even gets an honorary Emmy. But here's the part I love. Years later, cultural critics view the tour as an important feminist moment. Jackie showed that caring about things like China patterns and drapery shades could still be a worldly enterprise in its own way.
Every home is a museum of the things a family values. And now the White House is America's home.
Exactly for the first time in Jackie's married life.
It feels like everything's coming together. She's doing work she cares about. She has two healthy kids and she doesn't have to worry about when her husband's coming home from work because now he works from home every day at two p.m., they meet in the family living quarters to have lunch together.
OK, that's actually kind of sweet. Yeah, it is. But we're talking about JFK, so of course it doesn't last.
Two months later, Americans tune in to another big TV event, the president's 47th birthday gala. It's a star studded party with lots of famous guests, including Marilyn Monroe. Oh, no. You know what's coming, Marysia?
Yeah, I know the birthday, Mr. President. Yeah, and as you can imagine, it's also incredibly awkward for Jackie as she watches Marilyn's serenade, her husband on live TV. Any doubt she had that they're sleeping together, vanish? They're totally sleeping together. Marilyn glides her hands suggestively up her hips as she finishes her song.
A crowd goes wild. Jack steps up to the podium and he says, well, Brooke, far be it for me to deny you this exciting privilege.
You want to read it? Mm hmm.
I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me and such a sweet and wholesome way. Oh, God.
I know for the next couple of days, it's all anyone can talk about. Rumors swirl that Jack and Marilyn are having an affair. One columnist describes Marilyn's performance as making love to the president in direct view of 40 million Americans. Her father's love commuter tabloid stories are little league compared to this. If she could crawl under a rock and hide, Jackie would do it in a heartbeat.
Yeah, but it's kind of hard to hide when you're the first lady of the United States.
Yeah, but she tries anyway. She goes on an official trip to India. She takes her sister along and they get photographed riding camels, feeding baby elephants and dining with India's prime minister. The trip is a huge success, but Jackie's mood doesn't get any better. In August, she takes off with her sister again, this time on a vacation to Italy. And then every chance she gets, she escapes to the family's Virginia estate just outside of D.C..
OK, and as Jack noticed, she's gone or he does and he's constantly begging her to come back. But he's facing an even bigger crisis. The Soviet Union and the U.S. have been racing to build as many nuclear weapons as possible and then point them at each other. School kids have to do drills where they hide under the desk. Some people even build bomb shelters. It's some scary shit, but then it gets even scarier. On October 16, Jack learns that the Soviets have placed nuclear missiles on the coast of Cuba.
It's the closest Russian nukes have ever gotten to the United States.
They're close enough that they could easily strike Washington, D.C.. Jack calls Jackie and asked her to come home. She later says there was something funny in his voice. I could tell something was wrong.
That's the whole point of being married. You just must sense trouble in their voice. She packed her bags and races back home. But almost the moment she arrives, Jack asked her to leave again.
His advisers have calculated how long it would take for a missile to reach D.C. from Cuba and how long it would take to get out of D.C. And the math doesn't look great. Jackie tells Jackie to take the kids and get the hell out of town fast. Oh, that's really scary. Yeah, it really is. Almost all of the other political wives are booking it, but Jackie puts her foot down. If anything happens, we're all going to stay right here with you.
I mean, there's always been a disconnect in their marriage on some fundamental level.
Jack's never understood why his cheating hurts Jackie so much. After all, he always comes back to her. But to Jackie, it's never really been about the other women. It's more about his absence. It's about the time she doesn't have with him. And I think in this moment, he kind of gets that. So he says, yes, stay. And then he gets to work, I guess, even when the world is ending. Love can wait.
He sends the US Navy to Cuba with orders to attack. If the Soviets don't remove their missiles, the whole country holds its breath. People flee big cities and empty supermarket shelves inside the White House. Nobody can sleep. Jack and Jackie are constantly on edge at any moment. The world as they know it might end whenever Jack isn't working. He sneaks up to the family's private rooms to see Jackie and the kids. He leans on Jackie. They share quiet dinners and when he takes a break to sleep, he curls up next to her.
And Jackie makes a habit of checking in on him at his office as often as she can. One night when she gets there, Jack's talking into the phone and folders are strewn across his desk.
He beckons for her to come in. When he hangs up, Jack says, Let's go for a walk.
A walk now. You never want to go for a walk. I do now. He grabs his jacket, wraps it around her shoulders, and they walk out to the White House lawn.
It's a starless autumn night. The lawn is wet from being watered. It's spongy and soft, like beach sand. They walk together hand in hand. They don't talk. They don't have to.
Jackie feels the warmth of belonging to each other. Jackie can hear a distant sound of traffic and a siren when she looks up. The Washington Monument is almost the only light in the sky. She feels jack squeeze her hand. She leans against his shoulder. He doesn't have to say anything. On the night of October 26, Jackie and Jackie are upstairs when one of Jack's aides walks in to tell Jack he's got a call, Jack picks up the phone and listens before placing it back on the hook.
He tells Jackie, in three minutes, we'll know if we're at all out war. The past 13 days have felt like wading through molasses as the world has slowed to a crawl.
And soon Jack will finally learn that the crisis is over. But for these three minutes, as Jack and Jackie listen to each other breathe, the world stands absolutely still.
This is episode two of our three part series, JFK and Jackie, if you like our show, please give us a five star rating and a review and be sure to tell your friends subscribe on Apple podcast, Amazon Music, The One Tiriac or wherever you're listening right now. Join one plus in the one to react to listen ad free. You'll also find some links and offers from our sponsors and the episode notes Please support them by supporting them. You help us offer you the show for free.
Another way you can support the show is by filling out a small survey at one dotcom slash survey. We use many sources when researching our stories like The New York Times, The Washington Post and Vanity Fair. But we especially recommend for books JFK Coming of Age in the American Century 1917 to 1956 by Friedrich Logue of all the fabulous Bouvier Sisters, The Tragic and glamorous lives of Jack Lee by Nancy Shellenberger and Sam Kassner, Jacqueline Bouvier, Kennedy Onassis, The Untold Story by Barbara Leaming and These Few Precious Days by Christopher Andersen.
I'm Erica Skidmore Williams. And I'm Brooks Ephron. Elizabeth Cosson wrote this episode, editing by Allison Rimer. Our studio engineer is Sergio Enriquez, Sound Design by James Morgan. Our producer is Natalie Sheesha, and our associate producer is Kate Young. Our executive producers are Stephanie Gen's, Jenny Lour Beckman and Marshmallowy for Wondering What. Hi, I'm David Brown, the host of the Business Wars podcast and author of our new book, The Art of Business Wars, The Art of Business Wars features great stories from history's greatest business rivalries.
And the stories are fascinating, that's for sure. But the lessons we draw from them about determination, ingenuity, patience and all the other traits of the victorious enterprise are invaluable. Whether you're just coming up in your career or are already a CEO to order your copy today, go to Wonder Dotcom, the art of Business Wars.