Happy Birthday, President Kennedy! ♥
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1917.
Mrs. Kennedy speaking Spanish in a political campaign ad, 1960. [x]
Dear friends, I am the wife of Senator John F. Kennedy, candidate for the presidency of the United states. In these times of such danger, when our world peace if threatened by communism, it is necessary to have in the White House a leader capable of guiding our destinies with a firm hand. My husband will always look after all sectors in our society that are in need of humane government protection, for the future of our children, and to achieve a world in which true peace exists. Live Kennedy!
It had never occurred to me that I might be nominated for the Oscar. It just didn’t seem in the realm of possibility, especially for a Puerto Rican girl. Only one Hispanic in history had ever won an Oscar: José Ferrer, who had earned the Best Actor award for playing a non-Hispanic role in Cyrano de Begerac.
There followed a flurry of negotiation with the movie company. The result was that they would release me for only three days: one day to fly over, one day for the Oscar ceremony, and one day to fly back to the jungle.
I didn’t care. The important thing was that I was going! I ordered a heavily brocaded dress made of special Japanese obi fabric, a gorgeous gown with a black bateau top that I still have (and can still get into, happily).
On April 9, 1962, I attended the Academy Award ceremony, George Chakiris, who had also been nominated, was my escort, and on the way in the limo we laughed and practiced our “loser faces”—the fake smiles we would need to show when other actors won in our categories.
I was convinced that I wouldn’t win that I almost gave that fake smile when my name was called: “And the winner is…Rita Moreno!”
Stunned, I made my way up to the stage and stared in disbelief as Rock Hudson handed me the Oscar. I was so gitty that I was literally speechless. I didn’t thank anyone, because I hadn’t prepared a speech. All I managed to say was, “I do not believe it! And I leave you with that!” before I ran off.
— Rita Moreno: A Memoir
Interviewer: Who was the most challenging person you ever shot?
Bert Stern: I don’t know. I guess everybody’s challenging. Usually they ask who’s my favorite. And it’s Marilyn Monroe.
I know my husband was devoted to me. I know he was proud of me. It took a very long time for us to work everything out, but we did, and we were about to have a real life together. I was going to campaign with him. I know I held a very special place for him—a unique place…
— Jacqueline Kennedy
Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy will air tonight at 9 p.m. on TLC.
Mrs. Coretta Scott King being interviewed for 60 Minutes in 1968.
Interviewer: I imagine [Yolanda] must have been a real consolation at the time of the tragedy.
Mrs King: She was, Mike. She was really so much of a consolation to me because of the way she accepted this… She said to me, “Mommy, I’m gonna not cry because my daddy’s not dead… One day I’m gonna see him again”
Yolanda King, who was only 12 years old at the time of her father’s death, passed away in 2007 at the age of 51. She continued her father and mother’s work during her short life by speaking out for justice and equality, especially when it came to gay rights.
The pony was, you know, screwing up the pictures and going in and nuzzling the president. There was a great scene and everybody roaring with laughter.
- Tony Bradley, Kennedy family friend
Natalie Wood being interviewed for The Great Race, 1965.
[After the disaster of the Bay of Pigs,] the brigade prisoners remained in captivity for 20 months, as the United States negotiated a deal with Fidel Castro. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy made personal pleas for contributions from pharmaceutical companies and baby food manufacturers, and Castro eventually settled on $53 million worth of baby food and medicine in exchange for the prisoners.
On December 23, 1962, just two months after the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a plane containing the first group of freed prisoners landed in the United States. A week later, on Saturday, December 29, surviving brigade members gathered for a ceremony in Miami’s Orange Bowl…
- JFK Library
The following is my translation of Mrs. Kennedy’s speech. During her speech, the crowd was cutting her off with applause and words of encouragement. The speech can be found here.
It is an honor for me in being here today among a group of some of the bravest men in the entire world, and to participate in the joy that your family members have to express, which for such a long time lived hopeful, begged, and waited. I feel proud if my son had known your officials. He is much too young to be aware of what has happened here, but I will make sure to tell him the story of our bravery as he grows up. It is my desire and my hope that one day he’ll be a man at least half as brave that have been the members of the Brigade 2506. Good luck!
I think to many of us on here she’s as alive in our hearts as she was before and after Camelot. And I dare to speak on behalf of many of us when I say we see her as our sister, our friend, our idol, or our heroin. Mrs. Kennedy has saved me in many ways. Although I don’t take her into account in every choice I make, I look back at what I’ve lived through and I’m thankful for everything Mrs. Kennedy has taught me. Though I don’t think she would mind me trying to be as fashionable or lady-like, I believe she would have liked me to be my own woman. I believe she would have liked those who admire her to march to the beat of their own drum, yet I think we can’t help to want to be just as elegant, or intelligent, or as radiant as she was.
I remember cutting my hair “À la Mrs. Kennedy” and walking around my freshman year of high school thinking I was the bee’s knees. I look back now and shutter at how ridiculous I must have looked, but I remember how happy I was. Even at the age of 15, I thought that I can achieve such sophistication with my frizzy wanna-be bouffant hair and those fake pink pearls I had bothered my grandma about the entire year.
Besides her simple yet beautiful sense of style, her love for books and history inspired me to value reading and to appreciate figures such as Simon Bolivar and Abraham Lincoln. When I learned that Mrs. Kennedy loved the arts, I remember thinking “Mrs. Kennedy loved the arts, so I’m going to visit The Getty Museum and try to retain as much information as possible.” It’s fair to say I still don’t know anything about art, but I look back at certain phases of my life where Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dali were the most interesting and tragic people in my life. I take pride in knowing that Vincent Van Gogh didn’t start painting until his late 20s or that Dali was out of his mind.
I will never forget watching her White House Television Tour and screaming with joy at how she mentioned Colombia, the country my family is from, and how warmly she spoke of the country’s preservation of its history. When I learned about her fluency in several languages, I decided to take on the great task of reading Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera all in Spanish. Although I have difficulty reading in this language, I felt accomplished and had Mrs. Kennedy to thank for giving me the idea of reading this beautiful book.
When President Kennedy visited Mexico, it was Mrs. Kennedy who spoke beautifully on how housing, food, and education shouldn’t be a luxury but a right for everyone. President Kennedy, who was never good with foreign languages, simply said a “muchas gracias” and giggled at the end. He took such pride in how cultured she was. If you look back at these speeches, you can see him staring and smiling at her as everyone claps and cheers. When the prisoners were released after the disaster of the Bay of Pigs, it was Mrs. Kennedy who warmed up the spirits of everyone by giving a speech in Spanish. When President Kennedy visited countries such as Venezuela, he’d be welcomed by Communist students holding up signs telling him to get out but to leave Jackie. Even on the other side of the globe, Khrushchev may have not been very pleased with Kennedy during the Vienna Summit but he was surely taken by his beautiful “Jah-kee.” President Kennedy wrote A Nation of Immigrants, but I like to think of Mrs. Kennedy as being the one to truly represent a nation of immigrants. We shouldn’t just value our own history, but every nation’s history, languages, and cultures. She showed me how important it was take pride in my own culture and my native language.
Out of everything Jackie did and all the qualities she possessed, the one I will always take with me and try to apply in my life is the one of a loving, caring, and devoted mother. There’s nothing else in this world that I wish to be alive for other than to see my own children grow up as honest, modest, hardworking and appreciative people. I never valued the thought of motherhood until Mrs. Kennedy came into my life. I suppose anyone can be a mom, but it takes patience and lots of love to be a good one. Jacques-Lowe’s, Cecil Stoughton’s, and Stanley Tretick’s iconic images show not only a devoted wife, or first lady by her husband’s side, but also a warm, affectionate woman with a beautiful spirit and an admirable sense of strength and perseverance during her darkest times. I do not wish to be First Lady, a fashion icon, or an advocate for the music and arts, but I do wish to be a good mother. If do achieve such a thing in my life, I will only hope to possess some of the qualities that makes Jackie so memorable and alive in our hearts today.
Interviewer: Is your baby due before Inauguration Day?