Writer, editor, lawyer. Born Caroline Bouvier Kennedy on November 27, 1957, in New York, New York, to Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy. Caroline spent her early years living in the White House during her father’s term as president. His time in office is often referred to as the “Camelot Presidency” for the hope and optimism the young politician brought to America. As a result, the Kennedy’s were thrust into the spotlight as the ideal American family. Caroline was a frequent media darling; people couldn’t get enough of the little girl who walked her father to the Oval Office each morning, and rode her pony on the White House lawn.
Not everything in the Kennedy household was idyllic, however, and the family suffered numerous tragedies. Among them was the loss of Caroline’s eldest sister, who was stillborn 15 months before Caroline was born. Three years later, on August 7, 1963, her youngest brother, Patrick, was born prematurely. He died two days later from lung failure. But chief among the young Caroline’s early losses came on November 22, 1963, when her father was assassinated by sniper fire. Caroline was not yet six years old at the time.
Kennedy grew extremely close to her younger brother John Jr. during her youth. Together, they endured a series of family tragedies, later dubbed “The Kennedy Curse.” Among them were the assassination of their uncle and U.S. Senator, Robert F. Kennedy, and the death of a former campaign worker during a car accident involving their other uncle, U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy. Ted survived, but the incident became a national scandal.
In 1968, Caroline’s mother, Jacqueline, made headlines when she married Greek Shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis. The Kennedy family moved to New York City to be with their stepfather, and Jacqueline began working as an editor for Viking Press. Caroline’s mother tried hard to shield her children from the public eye, often keeping them away from their rebellious, scandal-making cousins.
As a result of their mother’s raising, Caroline and her brother strayed away from drugs and alcohol, instead becoming conscientious students. Caroline performed well in New York private school, and went on to attend Radcliffe College (now part of Harvard) for her undergraduate work. In addition to her studies, the young Kennedy interned for the New York Daily News and worked in the summers as a political intern for her uncle Ted.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in 1979, Caroline worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she met her future husband, an interactive-media designer named Edwin Schlossberg. She also began serving as the president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing financial support, staffing, and creative resources for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
On July 19, 1986, Caroline married 41-year-old Schlossberg in an elaborate Cape Cod, Massachusetts wedding. Despite the family’s efforts to avoid publicity, the wedding became a topic of wide interest in the media. A crowd of more than 2,000 spectators surrounded the church and a nearby hillside. Many perched in trees in an attempt to view the nuptials. When they heard applause from inside the church, the crowd outside also applauded.
Interested in politics, but not the limelight, Caroline quietly entered Columbia Law School. She graduated with little fanfare in 1988, during a private pre-commencement ceremony along with 380 other students. That same year, she gave birth to her first child, Rose. In 1989, the young lawyer stayed busy by establishing the Profile in Courage Awards, which honors elected officials who have shown political courage, and beginning research on her first book.
Fascinated with constitutional law, Caroline co-wrote In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action with fellow law graduate Ellen Alderman. She refused to use her mother’s publishing industry contacts, instead publishing the book through William Morrow & Co. in February of 1991. She also surprised Washington officials and stumped the media the next year, when she turned down an offer to be chairwoman of the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Instead, the private Kennedy invested time in her family and personal projects.
In 1994, Caroline’s mother passed away after a long battle with lymphatic cancer. As a tribute to her mother’s work in the arts, Caroline took on Jacqueline’s role as the honorary chairperson at the American Ballet Theatre. In addition to her charitable work, Kennedy co-wrote another book entitled The Right to Privacy (1995). She also took up her role as the guardian of the Kennedy name, spending several difficult months trying to settle her mother’s $ 200 million estate while under heavy public scrutiny. In 1998, she and her brother went public in an auction dispute against Evelyn Lincoln, President Kennedy’s former secretary, who attempted to sell “intensely personal” pieces of memorabilia that belonged to their father.
On July 16, 1999, Caroline endured more hardship when her only sibling, John F. Kennedy, Jr., was killed along with his wife and sister-in-law, when the plane he was piloting crashed in the ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The effect the tragedy had on Caroline was kept very private, but the only remaining heir to the Kennedy legacy quickly took up the family mantle. In 2000, she finally agreed to become a speaker at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
She also kept writing. To honor her late mother, Kennedy helped create The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, published in 2001. She has served as editor for two other anthologies: Profiles in Courage for Our Time (2002) and A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems and Speeches Every American Should Know (2003). She published A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children in 2005, and her latest work, A Family Christmas, in 2007.
Kennedy serves as a member of the national board of directors for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the vice-chair for the Fund for Public Schools in New York City, and chief executive for the New York City Department of Education Office of Strategic Partnerships.
In 2008, the normally very private Kennedy made headlines when she was rumored as a possible candidate for Hillary Clinton’s vacant senate seat. Kennedy later withdrew her bid for the post, citing personal reasons.
Kennedy and Schlossberg now have three children: Rose, Tatiana, and Jack. They currently reside in New York City.