REVIEW:
"JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS REMEMBERED"




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"JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS REMEMBERED" is a great keepsake, and a fine tribute to the former First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Jacqueline Bouvier married then-Senator John F. Kennedy in September 1953, and then rose to become First Lady, at the age of just 31, when JFK was inaugurated as the 35th U.S. President in January 1961. Jackie's grace, dignity, and unparalleled courage following her husband's tragic assassination in November 1963 helped sustain the nation in the wake of JFK's death. Five years later, in 1968, Jacqueline married Aristotle Onassis.

Jackie lived quietly in New York City, as a book publisher, following Mr. Onassis' death in 1975. She was surrounded by family and friends when she was taken from the world in the spring of 1994, two months before her 65th birthday. It was a very sad day for all Americans -- especially those who could easily recall Jackie's nation-binding strength and courage in the days following President Kennedy's sudden death.

Produced by CBS News and released on VHS videotape in 1994, "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Remembered" combines three separate programs onto one video.

Part 1 is a short 7.5-minute CBS-TV overview of Jackie's all-too-short life (she passed away way too soon, on May 19, 1994, at age 64, just shortly before CBS produced this videotape). The majority of this short segment of the video focuses on original CBS footage of President Kennedy's state funeral, held in Washington on November 25, 1963.

The second portion of the video is a real treat, and a collectible program unto itself -- the CBS-TV Special, "A Tour Of The White House With Mrs. John F. Kennedy" (51 minutes). This first-of-its-kind room-by-room look inside the famous Presidential mansion was originally aired by CBS on February 14, 1962, and garnered an enormous share of the viewing audience that night.

Unfortunately, the CBS video's packaging tells a falsehood when it claims this "Tour" segment is presented "complete". Sadly, it is not the complete "uncut" program. Missing are the first 7 minutes, when Mrs. Kennedy gives us a fairly detailed history of the White House (in words and vintage photographs), including a rather humorous moment when Jackie quotes a source from 1948 (when the house was in a state of great disrepair during the Truman administration and had to be gutted and totally rebuilt on the inside): "The building is standing up purely from force of habit." :)

For some reason, this preliminary "history" portion of the program, which is a very interesting and insightful look at the early days of the Presidential mansion, has been omitted from this video, even though the box specifically says it is included. [Note: Jackie's "History of the White House" segment is included in my online version of the program, HERE.]

But even without the first few minutes of narrative by Mrs. Kennedy, the 51-minute truncated version of the White House Tour that is presented on the CBS videotape is well worth seeing. It provides a very unique glimpse into the Kennedy White House, with the most charming host imaginable -- the First Lady herself.

Jackie always spoke with such a soft elegance; her voice seemed like a verbal "pillow". I loved listening to her speak. And she speaks a lot during this 1962 White House Tour.

President Kennedy joins Jackie at the end of the "Tour", and offers up some comments of his own, regarding the history of the White House itself, and what it's like to actually be a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Part 3 of the videotape features a September 29, 1960, CBS-TV "Person To Person" interview with Senator John Kennedy and wife Jackie (plus 2-year-old daughter Caroline), which originally aired just 40 days prior to the Presidential election, which had JFK defeating Richard M. Nixon in one of the closest elections in U.S. history.

This final segment, lasting 22 minutes, affords the viewer a rare chance to take a look at the more "personal" side of the Kennedys. It's another worthwhile keepsake of the 1960s. Some of the interview does, indeed, seem rehearsed to an extent. But, even so, much of the "real" JFK and Jackie shine through via this interview segment, especially as they interact with daughter Caroline. We can be certain of one thing for sure -- two-year-old Caroline didn't rehearse any material before going on TV here. :)

Video quality is quite good throughout the duration of this 81-minute VHS cassette. Audio is in Hi-Fi Mono. The video is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (born in Southampton, New York, on July 28, 1929) was one of the most admired women in American history (and remains so to this day).

She was pressed into a whirlwind life of politics at a very early age, and was very nearly as popular as her President husband when the Kennedys occupied the White House from 1961 to 1963. One word possibly best describes Jackie -- Class! Jackie was a class act all the way.

And this VHS tape from "CBS/FOX Video" is a perfect way to re-visit, time and again, the life and times of a true American original -- a woman named "Jackie".

David Von Pein
October 2004


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