Kathy McKeon was a 19-year-old Irish immigrant newly arrived in New York City when Jacqueline Kennedy hired her as a personal assistant in 1964, nine months after JFK’s assassination. McKeon soon became a trusted employee, helping to raise young Caroline and John and witnessing life from inside the fabled apartment at 1040 Fifth Avenue.
For over five decades, McKeon never spoke publicly of her experience. But now she has written a memoir, Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family, to be published by Gallery Books in June.
“I was just a girl when Jackie Kennedy made me part of the family and I lived through so much with all of them,” says McKeon, 72, in a statement announcing the book. “My grandchildren are learning about that era in school now, and my story is a chance to let them experience the humanity behind the history, as I once did.”
Clockwise from back center: Kathy McKeon, Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy and JFK Jr. Front right: Gustavo Paredes, son of Providencia Paredes, who was Jackie’s personal assistant during the White House years.
McKeon’s position gave her a close-up view of the real lives behind the headlines — from Jackie’s romance with Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis and their controversial marriage, to the shattering news of RFK’s assassination in 1968.
Even after McKeon — always referred to as “Jackie’s girl” by her employer’s mother-in-law, Rose Kennedy — left the family’s employment, she stayed close to the Kennedys. Her memoir will also include never-before-seen photos of the famous family.
“Jackie’s Girl is not only an engrossing look at the private life of one of the most famous women of the twentieth century but also a personal story of a young woman finding her identity in a new country,” says publisher Jennifer Bergstrom. “Kathy has written a beautiful book I’m sure her former employer would be proud of.”