Jackie Kennedy: The Untold Truth

Once, Jackie Kennedy Onassis was called “the world’s woman most written about” by The New York Times, and they weren’t wrong! From her elegant wardrobe to her astounding career later in life, the former First Lady of The United States of America has always managed to catch people’s eye. Enigmatic, yet charismatic, she has left a trail of well-known facts (and some lesser known!) behind. And we have gathered them for you…

#28. She Visited The White House As A Tourist

When little Jacqueline Lee Bouvier first visited the White House, little did she know that almost twenty years later that would be the place she would call home. Her first visit to her (then unknown) future home was a sad and disappointing one, though, as Jacqueline found the lack of a booklet to inform visitors about the history of the great house and the few historical furnishing on display anything but pleasant. Such was the dismay she felt, that several years later, she would handle that matter personally.

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As the upcoming First Lady, Jackie decided that it was high time she did some changes. Before John Fitzgerald Kennedy‘s inauguration, she visited the White House as the guest of First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, and once again, the visit left a bittersweet taste. Disappointed with the house’s appearance, Jackie made it her goal to restore the state rooms of the White House to reflect the artistic and architectural history of the presidential mansion.  To accomplish this, she established a White House Fine Arts Committee made up of experts in historic preservation and decorative arts.

#27. She Wasn’t Always Polite

Poise and primness were some of the words used to describe the former First Lady. However, she had a snarky side as well. Whether she was arguing with reporters or speaking (not so nicely) about some other women, Jackie Kennedy Onassis was never afraid of speaking her mind. In fact, according to NBC News, she referred to Lady Bird Johnson, wife of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson as “a trained hunting dog,” and to Indira Gandhi (before she became India’s prime minister) as a “prune.”

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But that was not it. Jackie also had some opinions regarding Martin Luther King. She claimed she couldn’t “see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible.” She had probably said that as a response to a taped conversation in which King could be heard making fun of Jack’s funeral. Jackie also called King “a phony.”

#26. Some People Felt Outraged When She Remarried

You would think that when someone finds happiness in their lives, people would be happy about it, right? Well, think again, because that was not reaction Jackie faced when she married Aristotle Onassis on October 20, 1968. While some people claimed “America had lost a saint,” some others were so shocked and angry, that even suggested that the rainy weather during her wedding day was a result of the gods shedding tears because of her new marriage.

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As Time has reported, these feelings regarding her wedding were sparked by the perceived suddenness of the wedding announcement and the prevailing opinion that the once First Lady “was marrying out of her church and culture.” Perhaps people were right at feeling the way they felt, as her love life after JFK wasn’t a happy one exactly. Her marriage to Aristotle short and pugnacious, and, as he was particularly superstitious, after his son’s death, he blamed her for the tragedy.

#25. She Was Engaged Before Meeting JFK

Before meeting JFK, Jackie was engaged to a stockbroker named John Husted Jr., but the engagement didn’t last long, as Jackie ended the relationship in an incredible brusque manner. Apparently, it was her mother who told her to call off the engagement, after discovering Husted annual’s salary. Not only did Jackie listen to her mother, but she also was ice cold after dumping him. It has even been reported that after their split, she claimed that he was boring and immature for his age.

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While dating Husted, it seemed that Jackie was never so convinced of spending their lives together, and she wasn’t too keen on making family bonds either. Sources told that when Husted took Jackie to meet his mother, Jackie rejected a portrait of him her mother in law wanted to give her. She probably had always known deep down that her relationship with Husted wasn’t meant to last, so her mother’s advice might have just been the perfect push she needed to call off the engagement and move on to better things.

#24. Her Thoughts On JFK’s Infidelities

John F. Kennedy has had several affairs during his marriage to Jackie, and she might have been aware of them. Pamela Keogh, the author of the 2001 book Jackie Style, told People that Jackie “came from a world where that is what men did, and it was accepted.” And apparently, that was the case with her and John F. Kennedy. According to The New York Times, Jackie referred to her husband as a man who loved the chase and was bored with the conquest. A man who once he was married needed proof he was still attractive.

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However, while some people like socialite Cornelia Guest would support The New York Times‘ version of the facts and say that women from that era tended to talk about unfaithful husbands in a more pragmatic way, some others would claim that Jackie Kennedy was not one of them and that her husband’s indiscretions would make her feel anything but calm.

#23. She Wanted To Divorce JFK, Allegedly

According to what authors Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince wrote in their 2014 book Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Life Beyond Her Wildest Dreams, Jackie intended to divorce JFK. Had she done it, she would have become the first-ever first lady to “divorce a sitting President.” Apparently, Jackie Kennedy was outraged with John F. Kennedy’s infidelities and Marilyn Monroe‘s sultry rendition of the Happy Birthday song was the breaking point in their relationship.

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In light of this situation, it has been reported that Jackie’s father in law, Joe Kennedy, had offered to give her “a check for one million dollars” to prevent the divorce from happening. Sources report that Jackie didn’t hesitate to answer that the amount offered would need to be kicked up to “twenty million dollars if JFK happened to bring home any venereal disease.” Other sources claimed that Jackie considered divorcing JFK twice. Both times, her mom and her sister talked her out of this.

Have you ever wondered about how she felt about Marilyn? Slide to find the answer!

#22. Her Relationship With Marilyn

Did Jackie and Marilyn even know each other? According to writer Christopher Andersen, they were bonafide romantic rivals who indulged in at least one verbal sparring match. In his book, Andersen writes that Jackie perceived Monroe as a credible threat, who was capable of “going public” with her alleged JFK affair and “destroy her marriage” by telling all the best-kept secrets of the affair. It has even been reported that Monroe was prone to asking her pals if they could picture her as the new First Lady.

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The writer also claims that Monroe rang up Jackie at the White House one evening and told her that JFK was eager to abandon his family and embark on “a new life” with her. Not perturbed at all and in a quite sarcastic way, Jackie answered:

“Marilyn, you’ll marry Jack. That’s great. And you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibilities of First Lady, and I’ll move out and you’ll have all the problems,” reportedly.

#21. How She Felt About Her Status As A Celebrity

There was one time when E! Online claimed Jackie Kennedy Onassis was “distrustful of the press.” That might have been a huge understatement, due to the fact that, over the years, the former First Lady had been one of the press favorite subjects. From watching every move she made at the White House to obsessively stalking her, the media had always had a way to intrude into her life. She even had to file two restraining orders against paparazzo Ron Galella, who reportedly spent decades watching her every move.

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You would think that JFK’s indiscretions, especially the romance he shared with Marilyn Monroe, were the favorite subjects of the press. However, the media was quite focused on Jackie’s diet. What she ate, what didn’t she ate… Such was the scrutiny she was under, that it quickly began to damage her body. According to Kathy McKeon, a former assistant of her, “the toll of the horror she survived was plain to see on Jackie’s painfully thin frame.”

#20. She Reportedly Considered Taking Her Life After JFK’s Death

Many have claimed that shortly after JFK‘s assassination Jackie Kennedy turned to alcohol and pills and reached out to a priest to talk about suicidal thoughts and her bitterness against God. In fact, according to People, Jackie asked a priest named Father Richard McSorley if God would separate her from her husband if she killed herself. The priest began schooling Jackie on the church’s views regarding suicide, but she reportedly cut him off to say that she knew it was wrong, but she felt “so lonely out there.”

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Fortunately, for her and her children’s sake, the former First Lady eventually moved on, but, as Vanity Fair reported, she kept reliving her husband’s assassination throughout the winter of 1963. At that time, she even claimed that she was not in any condition to make much sense of anything. To add to this subject, Mary Gallagher, Jackie’s former secretary, declared that“Jackie’s bedroom was on the second floor and she seldom left it.” 

#19. She Had A Contentious Relationship With Lee Radziwill

Apparently, there wasn’t lost love between Jackie and her sister. It has even been suggested that Jackie’s sister had an affair with John F. Kennedy. Some have even claimed that this situation led Jackie to pursue a relationship with the man Lee was reportedly in love with, Aristotle Onassis. After Jackie died, en 1994, it was discovered that she had set up $500,000 trust funds for Radziwill’s two kids in her will. Her sister got nothing, except for a section on Jackie’s will explaining that she had already helped during her lifetime.”

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That’s not all. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Radziwill claimed she felt “free” when JFK’s presidency ended.

“There were so many things I couldn’t do when my brother-in-law was president,” she said.

According to the interview, Radziwill also said that she was annoyed with the way the media had portrayed her during JFK’s presidency.

“It was so limited, so … jet-set, empty, cold, and not true,” she said.

#18. The Secrecy On Her Personal Artifacts

There is a reason for Jackie’s personal items to remain hidden away. Apparently, Caroline Kennedy is incredibly protective of her late mother’s “personal papers.” Therefore, some taped interviews with Jackie from a scrapped book called The Death of the President will reportedly be “sealed until 2067.” The bloodstained pink suit she wore on the day of JFK’s assassination will allegedly remain in “a vault… at least until 2103,” according to The New York Times.

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The New York Times also reported that a man named Gil Wells faced an annoying level of bureaucracy after he formally deeded two small sheets of “White House notepaper” to the government in 2016. Apparently, his godmother found these sheets of paper, which turned out to be a list Jackie herself had drawn up for her personal assistant. They detailed Jackie’s “hour-by-hour schedule alongside the clothes and accessories to be packed, including the now-iconic pink ensemble she was wearing when her husband was assassinated.”

#17. She Had A Remarkable Career Later In Life

Soon after the death of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie decided it was time for her to go back to work. She called the late Thomas Guinzburg, then the president of Viking Press, and scored an editing position. It was her first paying gig since 1953. From bomb threats and security people to press people dressed up as messengers, her first day back at work caused quite a stir. While at first, she had to endure “eye rolling” from her peers, she later found a way to fit in in her new job and became quite successful.

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In 1977, she resigned from Viking Press and was hired from Doubleday the next year, where she edited Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. In 1979, Jackie opened up to Vanity Fair: 

“You have to do something you enjoy,” she said.

She also described “happiness” as  “complete use of one’s faculties.” Such was the appreciation her work colleagues had for her, that after her death they handed in their resignation because they couldn’t bear the idea of working without her being there.

#16. She Picked Her Granddaughter’s Name

Highly regarded within the ever-expanding Kennedy circle, Rose Kennedy Schlossberg has to thank her grandmother Jackie Kennedy for choosing her name. She was named after her great-grandmother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Isn’t it ironic that even though they (allegedly) hated each other, Jackie chose her name? However, in a weird way to make amends, Jackie once told press secretary Pierre Salinger:

“The old bat’s about 100 years old, so let’s give her some respect.” 

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The former First Lady was quite present in Rose’s life. Can you believe that she even showed up once to chaperone a school trip to the American Museum of Natural History? Also, she would often go visit her and, when she was a little older, Jackie would take her on outings to playgrounds and museums, including the Met, which was right across the street from Jackie’s apartment. Regarding their conversations, Jackie would often talk to Rose as if she were addressing an adult.

#15. Good Will Ambassador

Whenever she traveled with her husband, Jackie Kennedy represented the United States abroad. As the first lady, she traveled to Italy, India, Pakistan, Paris, Vienna, and Greece. It was her interest in other cultures and her ability to speak several foreign languages (including French, Spanish, and Italian) brought her goodwill and admiration all over the world.

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A respected lawyer and advisor to President Kennedy named Clark Clifford was so pleased with her, that he sent her a note of appreciation.

 “Once in a great while, an individual will capture the imagination of people all over the world. You have done this; and what is more important, through your graciousness and tact, you have transformed this rare accomplishment into an incredibly important asset to this nation,” he wrote.

#14. She Might Have Had A Scandalous Side

While appearing quite pristine to most America, Jackie had always had a wild side. Even though this was prior to her years as a First Lady, some of the rumors still linger. Some reports suggest that she intentionally played up her French pedigree above her Irish heritage, thus the emphasis on the Bouvier name. On a more scandalous note, she reportedly had a long-standing pen pal relationship with a priest. This was discovered through a series of personal letters that were recovered from her personal archives.

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Did you think that nothing could top Jackie’s friendship with a priest? Well, think again, because there is more. Perhaps, the most intriguing rumor was the one that linked her to her late husband’s brother, Bobby, after JFK’s assassination. Apparently, Jackie’s relationship with her future husband initially began in retaliation over Bobby’s other extramarital affairs. In addition, the Daily Mail has reported that Aristotle and Jackie had an open marriage until his death in 1975.

#13. She Was A Talented Equestrienne

Among the many things Jackie enjoyed doing when she was a kid, there was reading. Before she started school, she had read all the children’s books on her bookshelves. Pretty impressive, right? However, reading was not the only thing she was good at. She was only one year old when her mother got her into horseback riding. So, to say that she started her training as an equestrienne at a very young age would almost be considered an understatement.

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As a result of her training, she became quite talented and, by the time she was 11 years old she had already won several national championships. Even The New York Times wrote about her accomplishments:

“Jacqueline Bouvier, an eleven-year-old equestrienne from East Hampton, Long Island, scored a double victory in the horsemanship competition. Miss Bouvier achieved a rare distinction. The occasions are few when a young rider wins both contests in the same show.”

#12. Her Wedding Was The Most Talked About Social Event Of The Year

By the time Jackie met John F. Kennedy, he was a congressman and soon to be elected senator from Massachusetts. On September 12, 1953, they married at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. 700 guests attended the ceremony, and 1,200 were present at the reception. According to one of the guests, watching the wedding was like being present at a coronation. Jackie’s extraordinary elegant wedding dress was one of the many outfits that gave her her status as a fashion icon.

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The place the couple chose to celebrate their wedding was a very meaningful one. St. Mary’s Church was their obvious choice. They used to spend time there while they were visiting Jackie’s family. During that time, they would often go to church together. After the wedding, the location became a tourist attraction. While the wedding was quite extravagant, something else caught everyone’s attention: the marriage rites included a special blessing from the pope.

#11. Becoming The First Lady

Jackie became the First Lady of the United States at a very young age. By the time John F. Kennedy was elected President, she was only 31 years old. But that was not all she became. A few weeks later, she gave birth to the couple’s first child: John F. Kennedy Jr. Balancing motherhood and being the First Lady was not easy, but she made it work while being quite successful at it. Oh, and she was doing it with style as well. During her years in the White House, she was always considered a trendsetter.

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Jacqueline Kennedy was the first presidential wife to hire a press secretary and the head of many projects regarding the restoration of the White House. She helped the cause by hosting social events, many of which brought together important figures from politics and the arts. As successful as she might have been, there were some unfinished projects too, such as founding the Department of the Arts. Her main goal, though, was to keep her family happy.

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much,”  she told a reporter.

#10. Meeting Queen Elizabeth II

The Kennedy’s were guests of honor at a state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip. At the banquet, a special allowance had to be made for Jackie’s sister and brother-in-law, who were on their second and third marriage, to attend the dinner since, traditionally, divorcées were not allowed to attend state dinners at Buckingham Palace.

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The Kennedys and the Queen have always had a nice relationship. In a birthday note, the President thanked the Queen for her hospitaity:

“May I also at the same time say how grateful my wife and I are for the cordial hospitality offered to us by your Majesty and Prince Philip during our visit to London last Monday. We shall always cherish the memory of that delightful evening.” 

#9. She Opened A School In The White House

The First Lady of the United States had always had a tight schedule which sometimes may have kept her away from her family. However, her duties as a First Lady have never stopped Jackie from protecting her children from public scrutiny. So, when security concerns made it difficult for her daughter Caroline to travel into the city, Jackie knew that some measures had to be taken in order to protect her from the media. To do so, Jackie turned the White House’s third-floor solarium into a nursery school.

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Her daughter Caroline and 12 to 15 other children would spend their days there. As you may imagine, the school quickly grew into a fully operational kindergarten in which professional teachers and even a small collection of rabbits, guinea pigs, and other animals would be there for the children. The First Lady also set a swimming pool, a swing set, and a tree house on the White House lawn so Caroline and John Jr. would enjoy their days at home.

Have you ever wondered how she managed to cope with terrible losses? Dont’s miss the next slide!

#8. She Has Been Throughout Multiple Tragedies

Motherhood was always an important piece of Jackie’s life. She has always been there for her children and has always done everything she could and beyond in order to protect them, but sometimes, there’s a limited amount of things a mother can do, and Jackie had to learn that the hard way. In 1955 she suffered a miscarriage, which was followed by the birth of a stillborn baby girl in 1956 whose name was going to be Arabella, reportedly.

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Sadly, those weren’t the only tragedies Jackie was going to face in her life, as, apart from the assassination of John F. Kennedy, she also had to suffer the loss of another child. On August 7, 1963, Jackie Kennedy gave birth to her and JFK’s third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. When he was born, he suffered from a serious lung ailment and was rushed to the Children’s Hospital in Boston. The couple’s son died two days later after his hospitalization.

#7. Reporter And Photographer

Before becoming the First Lady of the United States of America, Jackie Kennedy had a successful career as a reporter and photographer for the Washington Times-Herald. Known for interviewing local citizens about everything from politics to relationships, she was known as the “inquiring photographer.” During her time as a journalist, the future First Lady even got the chance to interview JFK’s future presidential opponent, Richard Nixon.

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Did you know that her photojournalism career brought her to many situations, such as interviewing and photographing Irish diplomats in Washington for St Patrick’s Day in 1952? At that time, she was known as Jacqueline Bouvier. She was sent to the Irish Embassy to ask ambassador John Joseph Hearne and his staff what St Patrick’s Day meant to them.

Slide to learn more about her life before becoming the First Lady!

#6. Her Academic Life

Before her journey as the First Lady of the United States began, Jackie Kennedy had quite an academic life. Her education began in private schools, as it was customary for the children of her family’s social circle. From the moment on, she never stopped. First, she attended the Chapin School in New York City for kindergarten and grammar school, Holton Arms School in Washington, D.C. for late grammar school and the first year of high school, and Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, for high school.

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Several years later, Jackie was accepted at Vassar College, where she studied History, Literature, Art, and French. She later spent her junior year in Paris, where she lived with the de Rent family. After living in Paris, she returned to the United States and completed her last year of studies. The reason for her transferring was due to the fact that she preferred being in the city, where she could be close to her family. Isn’t it impressive that during her senior year she won the prestigious Prix de Paris contest, sponsored by Vogue magazine?

#5. She Helped Restore The White House

As we have previously mentioned, Jackie set her mind to make several changes in the White House, such as building a school for her children and other kids of the White House. Among her many projects, there was one that she was particularly interested in: Restoring the white house and, especially, its historical character. To do so, she initiated a congressional bill that deemed all White House furnishing would be property of the Smithsonian Institution.

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She also established the White House Historical Association, the Committee For the Preservation of the White House, the position of a permanent curator of the White House, the White House Endowment Trust, and the White House Acquisition Trust. She enlisted the help of many experts, to help her gather outstanding examples of American art and furniture from around the United States, including many items that had belonged to former presidents and their families.

#4. She Wanted People To See What Had Been Done To JFK

November 22, 1963: We all know what happened that tragic day. Jackie was sitting next to her then-husband, and President of the United States John F. Kennedy, when he was killed by an assassin’s bullet while traveling in an open car through Dallas. She was not harmed, but her iconic pink wool suit was spattered with the deceased President’s blood. After that, refused to change clothes because, as it has been reported, she wanted people to see what had been done to Jack.

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Her bloodstained suit is now held in the National Archives. But something is missing, though: its matching pillbox hat. It was lost on the day of the assassination and has never been recovered. Soon after her husband died, Jackie decided to create the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as a memorial to her husband. The architect she chose was I.M. Pei. He designed the building which now stands as a landmark overlooking Boston Harbor.

#3. Admired And Critized

It is no surprise that to this day, Jackie Kennedy Onassis remains as one of the most fascinating first ladies. She has been always admired by the world for her impeccable style and her successful career before and after her time as a First Lady. However, as admired as she was, she was also quite criticized. Mostly, because of her “obsession” for French couture, especially during the 1960 presidential campaign. The situation didn’t change after she became the First Lady.

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The Kennedy camp worried her taste for foreign clothing could make the family seem unreachable for some people. To solve the problem, Joseph Kennedy, the President’s father, helped pair her with American-based designer Oleg Cassini. Cassini went on to design more than 300 of Jacqueline’s most iconic outfits. He would often refer to himself as the First Lady’s “Secretary of Style.” 

Slide to see which award Jackie Kennedy Onassis won!

#2. She Won An Emmy

This is certainly a landmark moment in the former First Lady’s life. Back in 1962, she was given the chance to host a TV tour of the White House. Throughout 1961, and with the support of her husband, Jackie worked diligently to restore many of the state and private rooms with actual period pieces rather than reproductions. When everything was completed according to the plan, she gave CBS newsman Charles Collingwood a tour of the rooms.

Photo: Courtesy of AP Photo

Did you know that the President made a little appearance, too? The ratings were staggering, as eighty million Americans who were curious to learn how the presidential marriage lived, watched the broadcast. The TV academy gave both the program and Jackie honorary awards. Lady Bird Johnson, wife of then Vice President Lyndon Johnson, accepted the award on Jackie’s behalf. The statuette is currently on display at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.

#1. A Remarkable Writer

As you have learned while going through our slideshow, Jackie was a photographer, an editor, and also an extremely talented writer. Ever since she was a little girl, she had always had a passion for literature. She loved reading and also writing.  In fact, when she was in college, she wrote a series of essays that won Vogue magazine’s Prix de Paris contest. Not bad, right? It was clear that writing was one of her many passions.

Photo: Courtesy of Richard Avedon

Such was the former’s First Lady love for writing, that she even decided to be deeply involved in the production of a book on the White House’s restoration. She even dedicated some time to selecting its typeface. She also volunteered to make suggestions on a book Ted Sorensen, Kennedy’s speechwriter, had written on the President? She corrected typos, too. We guess Jackie’s mother was right when she thought Jackie would be really successful if she decided to be a full-time writer!

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