Who Is John F. Kennedy Jr.?

Dan Cavallari

John F. Kennedy Jr. was the son of the American President John F. Kennedy, who was President of the United States in the 1960s until his assassination. John F. Kennedy Jr. was born only days after his father was elected president, and he was almost three years old when the elder Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. In his adult life, JFK Jr., as he was often called, was a lawyer and magazine publisher, as well as an amateur pilot. He died in a plane crash in 1999 with his wife and sister-in-law.

John F. Kennedy was president of the United States from 1961 until his assassination on November 22, 1963.
John F. Kennedy was president of the United States from 1961 until his assassination on November 22, 1963.

The life and death of John F. Kennedy Jr. were highly publicized, both because of his father's life and death and because of JFK Jr.'s notoriety as a playboy. A photo taken of John F. Kennedy Jr. at his father's funeral became iconic: the young boy was saluting as his father's casket passed, and the photo was published throughout the world in newspapers and magazines as a symbol of the nation's mourning. He lived in the White House for the first three years of his life, but after his father's death, John F. Kennedy Jr. lived with his mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, in New York City.

John F. Kennedy Jr. was the son of President John F. Kennedy.
John F. Kennedy Jr. was the son of President John F. Kennedy.

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JFK Jr. earned a Juris Doctorate and passed the bar exam on his third try. Speculation abounded that he had earned his JD and passed the bar only to please his mother, and his passions were tied to acting instead. He was generally considered handsome and likable, and many people believed he might run for political office. He started a magazine called George instead. The magazine focused on political themes as well as lifestyle themes, and it was generally well received but short lived. Before he died, John F. Kennedy Jr. speculated that he might have to stop printing the magazine due to a decline in funding.

During the summer of 1999, JFK Jr. was piloting an airplane with his wife and sister-in-law on board, en route to a wedding on Cape Cod. Kennedy lost control of the plane at night, and the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The bodies were retrieved, and after an investigation, the cause of the crash was found to be pilot error; Kennedy was not qualified to fly the plane with instruments only, which is sometimes necessary in inclement weather or at night. His death perpetuated what many have dubbed the "Kennedy Curse," or the untimely deaths of men in the Kennedy family.

The grave of the late President John F. Kennedy has an eternal flame.
The grave of the late President John F. Kennedy has an eternal flame.

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Discussion Comments


I was absolutely crushed when I heard of JFK Jrs tragic death. He was such a smart, strong and handsome young man. I'm sure that he could have gone on to do a lot of good for himself and for this country.

I remember that I was having dinner with a friend when we heard the news. She was pretty unaffected, surprised but not sad. But I was in grief. I actually had to leave the restaurant. It is just so sad, so much more sad, when a life ends in such an accidental way.


It must be difficult to live as the son of a such well known, loved and respected figure as John F. Kennedy. As much as I think that John F. Kennedy Jr. should have entered politics like his dad, I also like that he chose to take a different path.

I read a short biography on him in class, and I am really impressed with some of the things he did. Did you know that he also studied in Africa and India, and even worked as a Peace Corps volunteer? I sure didn't. It's interesting because he sounds like a very down-to-earth guy who cares about people and the world in general.

He really had a character suited for a President I think. I wonder why he didn't have an interest in politics? Maybe he would have changed his mind as he became older, if he had lived.


@burcinc-- I'm not sure about John F. Kennedy Jr.'s death. I have read the official reports about it, but I've also read various other reports by news reporters that say just the contrary. But no one has been able to prove until now that his death was a murder and not an accident.

An interesting claim that has been made about his death was that John F. Kennedy Jr. was planning to go into politics and run for presidency in one year. Some people feel that he may have been a target for this reason, because if he had run for Presidency, he might have very well won.

It seems probable, but like I said, nothing's been proven about that.


I was about six or seven when John F. Kennedy Jr. passed away and I don't remember anything about it. Everything I know about him has been through the news and magazine shows on TV.

I know that he was a very handsome and athletic person. Many girls still talk about how good looking he was. I think he was also very into sports and was always doing some sort of exercise all the time.

It's such a shame that he died so young, I think he was 38 years old. I understand why the media questions John F. Kennedy Jr.'s death, but since he liked doing high adrenaline and dangerous sports like kayaking and flying, I do believe that his death was just an accident.

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