Official Portrait
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March 1961 Photo Session

 

 

 

By Steve Brawley

Jackie's official White House March 1961 photo by © Mark Shaw. Thousands of copies were mailed with auto pen autographs to admirers from across the globe from 1961-63.

Jackie chose Mark Shaw, a Life Magazine photographer she had become friends with during the campaign, to take her official White House portrait.

The photo session was in late March (27?)1961, right before Easter. It turned out not to be a great day for the taking happy pictures. The Bay of Pigs Invasion was in its final planning stages. The White House was tense.

In his book "The John F. Kennedys (page 156, Farrar Straus, NY, 1964)" Shaw noted that "It was a grim tense day, but  he (JFK) brought none of this to the top floor of the White House. Afterward he (JFK) had lunch, a sandwich and fruit on a small tray. He (JFK) made no mention of the cause and reason for his quiet."

For the session, Jackie wore an Oleg Cassini outfit, in neutral tones. The session included photos of Jackie alone, and the couple together on the South Portico and in the West Sitting Hall (WSH).

The WSH had just been redecorated by Jackie and Sister Parish. You can see in the outtakes below (the first photo is the pose Jackie selected to use for her official portrait) details of the WSH, including Sister Parish's orginal heavy curtains that matched the couch. Later window treatments by Boudin were much more simple.

The images that day would also be later used by Life magazine in the fall of 1961 for a story about Jackie's WH restoration efforts.

Caroline chose a pose from that session of her parents on the South Portico to be used for the 2011 cover of the "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy" book.

After this photo session, Jackie paid a visit to Mrs. Wilson and then left for Palm Beach for the Easter holiday.

 

 

Images from March 1961 White House Photo Session

Mark Shaw Photographic Archive

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961 (Pose selected for Jackie's Official Portrait)

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

September 1961 Life Magazine Cover (© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961)

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961 (The Kennedy's selected this image as their official "couple" picture. They used both real autographs, and auto pen autographs to send the picture to admirers - or as a momento for friends and supporters.

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

© Mark Shaw Photograph March 1961

Later that day (March 27, 1961?), Jackie made a courtesy call on former First Lady Edith Wilson,

wearing the same Cassini outfit. She would then leave for the Easter holiday in Florida.

 

 

© Oleg Cassini Dress Sketch 1961 (Wore during March 1961 Mark Shaw Photo Session)

 

 

 

     
Steve Brawley (314) 740-0298