No matter how hard he tried to avoid it, JFK Jr. would always be known as a president's son.
Born just two weeks after his father John F. Kennedy was elected president, JFK Jr. grew up before America's eyes in the White House. His father made lots of time in his busy schedule for his young son, and they were often photographed together in the Oval Office.
But just days before his third birthday, Kennedy's father was famously assassinated. In a time when everyone in America was moved to tears, the photo of JFK Jr. proudly saluting his father's casket during his public funeral became an emotional symbol of hope. Dan Farrell, the photographer who captured the famous image, called it "the saddest thing I've ever seen in my whole life."
The rest of Kennedy's early years were spent at private schools, where he stood out from the rest of the students because of his passion for politics. While he was attending Brown University, Kennedy founded a student study group that covered the important issues of the day, including Apartheid, gun control, and civil rights.
While he worked as a business developer and later a prosecutor, it seemed like Kennedy was always drawn back to politics. He became part owner of the politics and lifestyle magazine George, and interviewed many celebrities for the magazine.
While living in New York, Kennedy rubbed shoulders with stars like Robert DeNiro and Mike Tyson, and he even had a famous run-in with Princess Diana. The way Kennedy's coworkers remember it, he was trying to convince the princess to appear on the cover of George, and met her at a New York hotel in 1995.
Kennedy's executive assistant RoseMarie Terenzio says he returned with a note that said "thank you so much, but not right now," but Diana's "energy healer" Simone Simmons tells a different story.
"It was pure chemistry," Diana reportedly said about their unexpected fling. "And he was an amazing lover - a ten, the tops." For the record, Diana's personal butler Paul Burrell says he doesn't believe the story.
And anyways, just a year later Kennedy married Calvin Klein PR advisor Carolyn Bessette. Sadly, the couple didn't even celebrate their third anniversary. Before they had the chance, they lost their lives in a tragic plane crash.
In an unreleased interview taped just months before the crash, Kennedy reflected on his life and his famous parents.
JFK Jr. spent his whole life being asked about whether he had any political ambitions, and his final interview with the Today show was no different.
“Nobody’s ever asked me about that,” he joked with Katie Couric. It was widely rumored that Kennedy was planning to run for a New York senate seat before his death, but Kennedy dodged questions about his plans during the interview. Instead, he praised his mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, for the way she raised him and his sister Caroline.
She warned her son that politics was "petty stuff," and advised him to "have a sense of who you are and your place in life" before making his plans known. When Couric played a clip of Kennedy's father saying he would urge his children to go into politics, he had a sadly ironic reply.
"There's a lot of time in life to do all sorts of things," he said.
Sadly, the interview was taped just two months before the plane crash that took Kennedy's life. He was piloting a small Piper Saratoga plane the night of July 16, 1999. Kennedy was flying from Fairfield, New Jersey to Martha's Vineyard for his cousin Rory Kennedy's wedding.
Sometime near the end of the short trip, Kennedy's plane crashed into the ocean. It took five days for investigators to recover the bodies of Kennedy, his wife Carolyn, and her sister Lauren Bessette.
It's believed that the three died instantly after a disoriented Kennedy lost control of the aircraft and crashed into the ocean. Kennedy was just 38 years old.
America can only wonder if this famous president's son may have followed in his father's footsteps, but there's no denying that he left a remarkable impression on our country.
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