By People Staff
August 02, 1999 12:00 PM

Few Americans were photographed as often; fewer still photographed as well. Many of the people who took those pictures came to regard John F. Kennedy Jr. as a sort of natural wonder. “He was a movie star without being in the movies,” says freelance photographer Lawrence Schwartzwald. Over the years, the most memorable of those images became, in a sense, a family album shared by millions.

“She had a good sense of humor,” John F. Kennedy Jr. (with mother Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy at the White House in August ’62) told Larry King four years ago by way of explaining why he felt she would have approved of his sometimes irreverent magazine George. “And I don’t think she was a slave to conventional wisdom.”

Among his few memories of his father, Kennedy said, was one of crawling under this desk in the Oval Office (here during an October 1963 staff meeting) and being slipped pieces of contraband chewing gum by the President.

“I think [Caroline and I] have a strong sense of my father’s legacy and how important it is, and we both respect it enormously,” Kennedy (in 1994 with his older sister) told Prime Time Live. “But at the same time, there is a sense of—a realization that things are different and that he would have wanted us to go on with our own lives and not reenact his.”

“Listen, people can say a lot worse things about you,” PEOPLE’S 1988 Sexiest Man Alive (displaying his pecs appeal in 1997 at Hyannisport) told Barbara Walters, “than you are attractive and you look good in a bathing suit.”

“It was very important for us to be able to conduct this in a private, prayerful and meaningful way,” said Kennedy of his September ’96 wedding to Carolyn Bessette (above). Not that he and Carolyn were always low-key. “If they walked into a room,” says an old friend, “it became a big party.”

With his lifelong flair for the theatrical, Kennedy (parading in Scottish regimental headgear in front of his mother at the White House 10 days before JFK’s assassination) felt the lure of the footlights as a young adult. But Jackie admonished him, according to an old family friend, “You can either be or you can act.”

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