From his first days of life, John F. Kennedy Jr. was one of the most looked-at – and most-photographed – people in the world. Born just 16 days after his father, President John F. Kennedy, was elected to the White House, JFK Jr. was a source of fascination to the media and the public. He was a golden child of a powerful political dynasty, a sad but strong little boy who lost his father far too young, a handsome and successful young man, and ultimately, a tragic figure who died even younger than his father.
Thirteen years after his death in a plane crash, we are remembering him with a few of our favorite photos of JFK Jr. and his lifetime in the spotlight.
Being the child of the most powerful man in the free world cannot be easy, but even the son of a president gets moments with Dad. A White House photographer captured one of these, just a month and a half before JFK's death.
John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy, Jr. at the White House, 1963 (Wikimedia Commons / Cecil Stoughton, White House photographer)
After tragedy struck, young Kennedy was photographed in an iconic moment, saluting his father's casket.
This Nov. 25, 1963 file photo shows three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father's casket in Washington on Nov. 25, 1963, three days after the president was assassinated in Dallas. Widow Jacqueline Kennedy, center, and daughter Caroline Kennedy are accompanied by the late president's brothers Sen. Edward Kennedy, left, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. (AP Photo)
Even after his father's death, when his time living in the White House was done, Kennedy would remain in the public eye – after all, it's hard for the media to ignore the son of an important political family, growing up intelligent, attractive and privileged. His mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, was still a style icon, uncle Edward Kennedy was a senator, and many other family members were in the spotlight as well.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. son of the late president, spends a late summer day at the helm of a small power boat off the shore near his home in Hyannisport, Mass., Sunday, Sept. l9, 1979. Come Monday, John will register as a freshman at Brown University in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo)
Kennedy graduated from Brown University and went on to earn his J.D. from New York University School of Law. He served as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office and founded the politics and lifestyle magazine George … which sometimes made political digs at fellow Kennedys (all in the interest of fairness, as other politicians weren't spared, either).
John F. Kennedy Jr., second from left, listens to his uncle Ted Kennedy, right, with his mother Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, left, and sister Caroline Kennedy, second right, at his graduation from Brown University, Providence, R.I., in this June 4, 1983 photo. (AP Photo)
In 1988, People magazine named Kennedy their annual Sexiest Man Alive – he was the first non-actor to take that honor. The article noted Kennedy's down-to-earth appeal as a powerful celebrity who preferred to live in a Manhattan apartment and get around town on a bike, and who donated his time to causes like the Very Special Arts program for people with learning disabilities.
John F. Kennedy Jr. poses in front of St. Peter's at the Vatican Saturday April 20, 1996. Kennedy Jr. is in Italy to interview famed fashion designers such as Valentino, Versace and others. (AP Photo / Maurizio Marucci)
The dreams of many of that article's readers were dashed when, on September 21, 1996, JFK Jr. married Carolyn Bessette.
John F. Kennedy Jr., son of late U.S. President, with his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, arrive at La Scala theatre in Milan Sunday, December 7, 1997. Giuseppe Verdi's Macbeth, directed by Italian maestro Riccardo Muti, opened the opera season at the renowned Milanese theatre. (AP Photo / Luca Bruno)
But the couple’s happiness would be short-lived – just three years later, both Kennedy and his wife, along with her sister Lauren, were killed when the plane Kennedy was piloting crashed near Martha's Vineyard. A family often beset by tragedy would have to mourn again – and they were joined, once again, by a saddened country.
John F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, listens to a question from the audience during a panel discussion entitled "The Medicare Debate: Then and Now" at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday afternoon April 29, 1997. (AP Photo / Stephan Savoia)
Written by Linnea Crowther