She never liked the title First Lady. “It always reminded me of a saddle horse,” Jackie once said. But after she arrived in the White House in January 1961, the energetic equestrian took the name over the highest jumps, and we all went along for the ride.
Not since 21-year-old Frances Folsom Cleveland had the country been blessed with such a young First Lady. Only 31, Jackie had an élan beyond her years and the grit to use it. Couture became her signature. The Jackie look was a global aspiration, reignited on each of her six trips abroad. She promoted the arts and mixed guests like composer Igor Stravinsky or poet Carl Sandburg with the Camelot regulars at White House evenings. But her crowning achievement was restoring the mansion and preserving its history. “Jackie loved being First Lady. She was thrilled by it,” says her former chief of staff, Letitia Baldrige. “You’d have to be nuts not to be thrilled by making history and not just to be witnessing it.”