Jackie Kennedy’s ‘particular brand of silence’

Jackie Kennedy's private thoughts about Dallas

In a finely reported piece for Esquire last November Chris Jones recreated the scene on Air Force One on the afternoon of November 22, 1963.

Here’s the first meeting of now former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson, now the wife of the President of the United States.

“I don’t know what to say,” Lady Bird says. “What wounds me most of all is that this should happen in my beloved state of Texas.”

“To this, Jackie says nothing. She sits in her very particular brand of silence, her pink outfit stained with gore, flecked with fragments of her husband’s skull and brain. One of her stockings is almost completely lacquered in blood. Her right glove, white that morning, is caked and stiff with it. Her left glove is missing. Lady Bird asks her if she can get someone to help her change.

“No,” Jackie says. “Perhaps later I’ll ask Mary Gallagher, but not right now. I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”
Read more: John F. Kennedy Assassination Flight – What Happened on the Flight from Dallas – Esquire

JFK Facts exclusive: The Air Force One Tapes

“Audio engineer on the trail of a long-lost JFK tape” (JFK Facts, Nov. 6, 2013)

“Enhanced Air Force One tape captures top general’s response to JFK’s murder”  (JFK Facts, Oct. 19, 2013)

“What’s the most important piece of JFK assassination evidence to surface in the past five years?” (JFK Facts, Oct. 27, 2013)

Listen to the enhanced Air Force One tape from November 22, 1963, in four parts, as prepared by Primeau Forensics.


43 thoughts on “Jackie Kennedy’s ‘particular brand of silence’”

  1. November 22, 1963, was a dark day in Dallas, but a fortuitous day for LBJ. It was a mournful time for citizens in this country, personal views of Kennedy’s policies aside, because of JFK’s death. Kennedy’s most strident opponents were elated JFK (RFK by default) had been removed from power; that someone like LBJ was now at the helm. For insiders and wheeler-dealer types, Johnson “understood” how business was done. He “appreciated” deal making and political parrying. Johnson, ever a consummate manipulator and politician, was out of his element, so to speak, following Kennedy, among Washington’s more sophisticated elite power brokers. Johnson did know how to get things accomplished, domestically, yet he was woefully blindsided and outmaneuvered when mismanaging Vietnam.
    Remember, Johnson came from Texas hill folks; these people were not sophisticated by any stretch of imagination. In ‘63, public servants were not a grouping of the most sophisticated, or educated people, in this country. Many served in higher office hoping to be enriched, or avail themselves to deep pocket sponsors – thus, politicians became puppets to their benefactors. Johnson was no different in this regard. JFK was his own man of independent means. He was viewed as one who could not be controlled by threat of the campaign purse. Compared to JFK, no other president(s) before him came from such wealth, background, education, or grooming for office – certainly not Johnson. There was grand scale despising between Johnson and Bobby Kennedy. Kennedy was cornered into accepting Johnson on the 1960 Democratic presidential ticket. JFK, according to Evelyn Lincoln, actually preferred Danforth of Connecticut. Johnson, now embroiled in scandals, desperately needed a miracle to remain politically alive and relevant. Dallas was his resurrection day!
    It was a dark day in Dallas, but a fortuitous time for LBJ. It was a mournful time for most citizens in this country, despite personal views of JFK’s policies. Kennedy’s most strident opponents felt elated JFK (RFK by default) had been removed from power and that LBJ was at the helm.

  2. Mark Anthony Wrigh.

    Back to subject, I think Jackie was in deep shock understandingly.. A bit of poor taste from Nelle feeling sorry formTexas but again everyone was under pressure and a high degree of stress

  3. Thanks for posting again Mr. Morrow. Though I’m sure some don’t agree. While I don’t agree with the lbj mastermind concept I lean to his complicit involvement heavily.

  4. Jackie Kennedy on her Mistrust of Lyndon Johnson:

    One of JFK, Jr.’s best friends at the Phillips Academy was Meg Azzoni. In spring, 1977, she and John went to visit Jackie while Caroline was still at Harvard. Meg says: “Jackie told John and I at the ‘break-the-fast’ breakfast, ‘I did not like or trust Lyndon Johnson.’ No one said another word the whole meal in memorial contemplative silence.”

    [Meg Azzoni, “John F. Kennedy, Jr. to Meg Azzoni 11 Letters: Memories of Kennedys & Reflections on His Quest,” p. 52]

    1. Jackie was a more informed and knowledgeable woman than most any at the time. Wearing the bloody dress the whole day and saying “I want them to see what they have done” is quite astute in itself.

  5. I have to ask why this diary is being recycled.

    Jackie’s view of the murder of her husband is now well known.

    It’s also known she left the U.S. with her children in the 1960s because she thought and felt the U.S. was a dangerous place for her and her children.

    Jackie died in June 1994 and left a will of great interest to tax planners.

    Her daughter Caroline, now ambassador to Japan, has done well.

    Her son John, who perished with his wife and SIL in a small plane crash off the coast of Massachusetts, was editor of “George” at the time of his death. Not long before his death he wrote forcibly in “George” about his father’s murder.

    His plane spun into the ocean short of Hyannis Port. The FAA for the first time in its history turned the investigation of a crash turned the crash investigation over to the military.

    No conspiracy claims here. Just facts.

  6. Dear readers, this is a general etiquette reminder that is a bit overdue. We recognize that the subject generates passionate debate, but there are some general guidelines we would like to maintain. First and foremost, we ask that you address the issues and not indulge in personal attacks, however subtle. Our patience is growing thin when it comes to snide remarks or condescending language. You may have a truly insightful comment, but if you add an unnecessary jab at those who might disagree, you put your comment at risk. We also ask that individual comments grow no longer than the original posts. Policing comments is a subjective art and we try to be consistent. Please try to respect the guidelines so we can keep the debate a robust and compelling one. Thank you. (This reminder will appear in all the most recent threads and does not necessarily speak to comments within this thread.)

  7. JSA: What I find interesting when watching the Zapruder film is that Jackie does not appear to be “forced” back into her seat by Hill, but rather turns back just as he reaches her. I do think she appears to be reaching for something on the back of the car (though it’s difficult to tell), and she reportedly handed a piece of JFK’s brain to a doctor at Parkland.

    Thomas: Agreed, though in interviews with William Manchester for “Death of a President,” Lady Bird said she immediately regretted the statement and knew it was the wrong thing to say. I think she had compassion for Jackie and was not as self-centered as she may have come across at that moment.

    1. Lady Bird was a nice lady, whatever you want to say about her corrupt t.v. station holdings and her unwavering support for her husband, Rufus Cornpone. I doubt she was trying to be malicious to Mrs. Kennedy. I think she was as shocked as the Kennedy people over what had happened.

      1. I agree 100% on this, JSA. She put up with a lot being married to LBJ- imagine seeing your husband’s girl friend on TV every night and playing the First Lady role like nothing was happening. What was worse was that everybody in Washington society knew the score.

        1. I could tell you funny stories about LBJ from old friends of mine (now deceased) who flew with him on AFOne. He was a bourbon drinker, and a very MEAN drunk. His wife put up with a LOT. Lyndon was a real piece of work. And I think he knew about the assassination, more than he let on.

          1. Actually he was more of a Fresca drinker during the Presidency than a whiskey drinker. At least while in the White House he moderated his intake of food, drink and of course tobacco. As a result he was the healthiest that he was his entire life, even having an uneventful gall bladder surgery. The only potentially harmful personal habit he kept during that period was fooling around- and he was not a reckless field player with one night stands.

          2. My State Dept. friend said it was bourbon. Others say scotch and soda. I’m sure he had both. But he drank a lot more than Fresca. The main cocktail Johnson mixed was a scotch and soda, specifically Cutty Shark. President Johnson used to drive around his ranch with the secret service mixing him drinks in the car behind him. The routine was done so often that Johnson didn’t even have to stop the car to hand off his empty glass and then receive a new cocktail.

          3. I believe that your source is in error,JSA . LBJ took the responsibilities of the office very highly and moderated his lifestyle accordingly. The proof of that is after he left office, let his hair down(literally) and resumed bad habits he deteriorated rapidly and died .
            Besides, don’t believe anybody who tells you that somebody got drunk drinking “Cutty Shark”.
            It was “Old Grandad” in the 50s anyway- the standard brand of the Senate cloakroom. And ” Harvey’s” was the after hours watering hole. They used to have great popovers .

          4. It appears that Joe Caliphano agrees with my pressed trousered friend from Foggy Bottom, Photon.

            Joseph Califano, LBJ’s special assistant, once recalled riding with Johnson around the President’s Texas ranch followed by a station wagon full of Secret Service agents. “The President drank Cutty Sark scotch and soda out of a large white plastic foam cup.” Califano continued that, when Johnson wanted more, he “Would slow down and hold his left arm outside the car, shaking the cup and ice. A Secret Service agent would run up to the car, take the cup, and go back to the station wagon.” One can imagine the Kennedyites in Johnson’s administration watching in horror. The President’s rejection of French wine was probably in part an act of rebellion against the worldly sophistication of a Kennedy administration that had marginalized him as a country bumpkin when he served as Vice President. The French wines that Jacqueline Onassis’ carefully chose for state functions represented a different social milieu, and Johnson fought back accordingly by drinking cheap Cutty Sark from a foam cup. –

            See more at: http://baltimore.thedrinknation.com/articles/read/9113-Whatll-You-Have-Mr-President-A-Look-at-Drinks-in-Politics#sthash.JmdBZFVJ.dpuf

          5. That same story is all over the Internet with multiple versions that include the “Cutty Shark” reference. The problem I have with it is that multiple people seem to be referring to the same incident without any real proof that it happened in the first place. LBJ was known as a reckless driver on the ranch, but I do know for a fact that he moderated his use of alcohol while President, and tobacco, and certain foods. When he stopped that moderation in 1969 his heart disease accelerated, as evident in his last interview with CBS when he was popping nitros like the doomed heart patient he was .

        2. In the famous photo of LBJ being sworn in as POTUS, we see Lady Bird showing no sympathy to Jackie-rather a smile at her. What’s THAT all about?

    2. Gerry Simone

      In a recent T.V. documentary broadcast around the 50th anniversary, Clint Hill clearly states that Jackie Kennedy was retrieving a piece of the President’s head.

      She didn’t jump on the trunk to summon his help which is a lone assassin scenario factoid.

  8. One hardly knows how to respond to the reports of Johnson at this moment by others. It seems monstrously insensitive at the very least. He didn’t need to stay in Dallas, He didn’t need to wait for a Judge. He didn’t need to have Jackie stand by his side and he certainly didn’t need to call Robert Kennedy and ask for the “wording” of the oath.Finally,he didn’t need to tell the whopper of a lie – after RFK was dead – that RFK asked him to appoint Dulles to the Warren Commission.
    The Jackie captured by Warhol on this site recently is haunting. It captures her majesty, her grief, her beauty and her youth. Imagine, she was not even 35 years old. Look around and compare with other 35 year olds. That weekend, that awful and sad weekend, she was magnificent.

    1. Are you sure it’s a “whopper” that RFK recommended Dulles for the WC?

      The HSCA quotes a memo from Walter Jenkins to LBJ saying:
      “Abe [Fortas] has talked with Katzenbach and Katzenbach has talked with the Attorney General. They recommend a seven man commission — two Senators, 2 Congressmen, the Chief Justice, Allen Dulles….”

      See paragraph 11 here:


      1. I could only say that the info is coming from Fortas and Jenkins,two LBJ cronies. At that time, RFK was in deep grief and Katzenbach whose own now famous memo followed the FBI’s version of events is hardly one to rely on. The idea that RFK would want Allen Dulles to head the commission studying his brothers death is lunacy and, as I believe, RFK himself denied that assertion in an oral biography.

        1. When you have to assume more and more people(Fortas, Jenkins) are lying in order to justify a theory, maybe it’s time to re-examine the theory.

          During an LBJ phone call to Dulles during a different crisis (6/23/64), RFK came on the line to urge Dulles to help investigate the disappearance of 3 civil rights workers in Mississippi (the call is mentioned here):


          According to a published transcript, RFK told Dulles, “… you’d go down [to MS] and report on what the facts are and make suggestions [….]
          you know, we’ve worked together for a long time, so I know what you could do and I know you’d do this well. And I know you *could* do it, Allen.”

          Two months after he fired Dulles, JFK pinned a medal on Dulles’ chest and praised him highly:



          1. Fortas left the Court in disgrace and Jenkins left Washington in disgrace, so it is not unjustified to question their comments on anything. It wouldn’t be a “lie” if they fudged RFK approval, it would just be par for their course – to give LBJ whatever he wanted.
            Also, the image of the Kennedys in a lovefest with Allen Dulles doesn’t quite cut it.Giving a medal to the guy who was the director for 9 years and planned the new building doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.
            At his death, the widow Dulles received a letter from Prescott Bush saying that he “never forgave the Kennedy’s” for what “was done” to Allen. Strange comment less than a year after one of them had his head exploded with a bullet. Saying such to the widow, at such a time, seems a reflection of what she would want to hear.
            Dulles was also quoted as saying that JFK “thought he was a little god.” Of course, Dulles also tried to get Harry Truman to withdraw the op-ed he wrote critical of the CIA on December 22, 1963. I think the Kennedys knew that they couldn’t trust Dulles to tell them the time of day.

          2. Robert, I understand that *you* don’t trust Dulles, but what evidence do you have that the Kennedys didn’t trust Dulles? What evidence do you have that Fortas and Jenkins “fudged” RFK’s approval?

            Did you read what JFK said about Dulles?


            Kennedy not only praised him but referred to him as a friend.

          3. An author of crime thrillers would know precisely who would be the most suspect in the aftermath of an assassination when the lone nut theory did not hold up under scrutiny. They would look to the highest echelon in the dynamic – in the case of Kennedy’s assassination, they would look to Dulles, Hoover and LBJ, and how those characters could distract from or contribute to solving the crime, up to and including the relationships they shared with the deceased and his or her family.

            A magician would know how to manipulate all of those aspects toward a certain end.

  9. JSA, that’ right about Clint Hill. Although he supports the WC, his comments on the head wound support a grassy knoll gunman. Consistent with what Dr. McClelland said Dallas doctors WC testimony, right rear wound, and seeing cerebellum. Tom Robinson, the mortician, testified he had to patch up the rear of JFK’s head. Don’t forget Ken O’Donnell and Dave Powers who both said they heard a shot from the knoll. Powers admitted to Tip O’Neill (in O’Neill’s book) that the FBI pressured him to say the fatal shot came from behind, when in fact he thought it came from the knoll. Powers later regretted not standing by what he really heard as documented in Talbot’s book Brothers.

    1. Tom Robinson never “patched up the rear of JFK’s head”. He was the embalmer, not the restorer.
      That fact is right out of the ARRB report, where it is specifically stated in capital letters that he had nothing to do with the head restoration.
      If you can’t get something as elementary as that correct, why should any credence be given to anything in your statement?

    2. I agree with you, Curt. Arlen Specter did his trial lawyerly best to bend the facts to fit the lone gunman scenario, and the Warren Commission didn’t even interview many of the witnesses, including Admiral Burkeley. People who apologize for the Warren Commission’s politically-motivated report are like the kind of people who look at the O.J. Simpson trial and say:
      “SEE?? He didn’t do the crime because the glove didn’t fit! Case Closed.”

  10. Can’t get more awkward or insensitive than for Lady Bird to say that what “wounds me most of all” is that it happened in Texas. People can sure be egocentric at the weirdest times.

  11. As I recall from my youth, it was explained to me that unless a person in born into great wealth (Kennedys) they are peons(POS). They face a life of continuous struggle to rise above peon status. By the time they actually acquire anything of material worth it’s time to die & leave it all behind.

    JFK & Jackie was a rare mix of fortunate wealthy mixing with peons. According to both Federal investigations John Kennedy (fortunate one, worth around 100 million at the time) was removed by a peon (Lee Harvey Oswald). The peon was also removed by another peon (Jack Ruby).

    One cannot expect those of great wealth to respond to trauma like peons.

    1. Obviously you have never been to their Palm Beach house that despite the wealth was furnished with cheap furniture and kitschy art and decorations. At least one of the third generation acted as much as a peon as anybody else that I have met.

      1. Well, I’d be the first to tell you that Joe Kennedy didn’t have the best taste. I liked what Jacqueline did for the White House though.

  12. Let it be on the record that Clint Hill saw the following, engraved into his brain, which he would never forget that day in Dallas:

    “I jumped onto the left-rear step of the presidential automobile,” Hill later remembers. “Mrs. Kennedy shouted, ‘They’ve shot his head off,’ then turned and raised out of her seat as if she were reaching to her right rear toward the back of the car for something that had blown out. I forced her back into her seat and placed my body above the president and Mrs. Kennedy… . As I lay over the top of the backseat, I noticed a portion of the president’s head on the right-rear side was missing and he was bleeding profusely. Part of his brain was gone. I saw a part of his skull with hair on it lying in the seat.”

    I’d like to see the lone nutter response to this quote. I’m sure they’ll find some way to try to discredit Clint Hill, or say he couldn’t have seen what he said he saw, or some other bulls-.
    But the fact is, he saw what he saw, said it out loud, and it flies right in the face of what Arlen Specter and the Warren Commission wanted said.

    1. 3-9-1964. Testimony before the Warren Commission:
      Mr. Specter:” Now,do you now or have you ever had the impression or reaction that there was a shot which originated from the front of the Presidential car?”
      Mr. Hill: “No.”

      1. Yeah, Hill knew who was paying him all right. But he said what he said about seeing the back of JFK’s head blown out, and he couldn’t put that genie back into the bottle.

        I score that as a political victory for the conspirators, but his earlier statement is what he really saw, before OJ’s lawyers twisted the facts around for the Commission Report.

        1. Even today when the average individuals are shown the autopsy photos they often describe the head wound as being at the back of the head. We have discussed this before. If all of the Parkland doctors agreed that the autopsy photos conformed with what they saw, what difference does it make how they initially described the wounds? The Gestalt of seeing a supine person is to identify superior head lesions as being more posterior than they really are.
          The bottom line is that no matter how you want to twist it, Mr. Hill has always supported the Warren conclusions. Did Specter talk him into those beliefs? I kinda doubt it.

          1. Photon,
            The Parkland doctors in later years have stated that they when they were shown alleged autopsy photos — behing closed doors — theywere not shown the famous intact-back-of-the-head photo. When they were shown that photo by private researchers they said it was not what they saw in Parkland, and it was not what they were shown, and it was a false representation of Kennedy’s head wounds.

          2. Nathaniel Heidenheimer

            What difference does it make?

            So the later changes in testimony after being hounded by the secret service, were more accurate than the initial testimony?

          3. The Parkland doctors in later years have stated that they when they were shown alleged autopsy photos — behing closed doors — they were not shown the famous intact-back-of-the-head photo.

            In 1988, four of them went to the Archives and were allowed to look at the entire set, and for as long as they wanted.


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