Martha Bartlett Obituary, Update – In February 1962, millions of viewers witnessed First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s tour of the newly-restored White House, broadcast on all three TV networks. However, those who knew her personally understood that the real Jackie was far from the flawless image presented on screen. Author Carl Sferazza Anthony commented on the public perception of Jackie, stating that many believed her life only became interesting after marrying into the Kennedy family. In reality, Jackie was already a fascinating individual, which is why John F. Kennedy was attracted to her in the first place.
Jackie had ambitions beyond being a housewife. She aspired to be a writer and was willing to start at the bottom to achieve her goals. She landed a job as the “Inquiring Photographer” for the Washington Times-Herald, where she would take pictures of passers-by and ask for their opinions on various topics. This role allowed her to interact fearlessly with strangers, showcasing her charm and independence. Despite being single at the time, some of Jackie’s friends, including newsman Charles Bartlett and his wife Martha, believed she would be a perfect match for John F. Kennedy.
In 1951, the Bartletts hosted a dinner party in Georgetown, aiming to introduce Jackie to JFK. Martha Bartlett, now 97 years old, still vividly remembers that evening. She initially had doubts about whether Jackie and Jack would enjoy each other’s company, so she invited her friend Loretta Summers to ensure there would be another woman to talk to if needed. Bartlett recalls that JFK showed signs of boredom during the dinner, which was likely due to his initial reservations about Jackie. As for the menu, Bartlett humorously admits that her go-to dish was chicken casserole for these parties.
Years later, Jackie shared her memories of that fateful night, expressing her belief that meeting JFK would have a profound effect on her life. She almost felt like running away, anticipating the heartbreak he would inevitably bring, but she knew it would be worth it. According to Martha Bartlett, Jackie was actively involved in pursuing JFK and engaging in shameless matchmaking attempts between the two of them.
Despite Jackie’s earlier statements about not being interested in marriage, her ultimate goal was not just marriage but also the adventure that could lead her to the White House. She even paid a visit to Joseph Kennedy, the family patriarch, and shortly after that, Jackie Bouvier and John F. Kennedy’s names appeared together in gossip columns, predicting a wedding in the near future. While Jackie was not head over heels in love with JFK, they began dating, although JFK seemed hesitant and took his time. This delay disappointed Jackie, who had become eager to move forward.
The well-documented Kennedy-Bouvier wedding took place in 1953, captivating the nation. Martha Bartlett played a significant role in the wedding as one of the bridesmaids, while her husband served as an usher. However, leading up to the wedding, Jackie was not a particularly happy bride. Her father, due to his intoxication the night before, was unable to give her away on her special day.
Thus began a union that continues to fascinate people to this day. Martha Bartlett, like many others, reflects on the Kennedy saga with mixed emotions. The glamorous couple and their unrealized dreams evoke a sense of sadness. When asked about her matchmaking efforts, Bartlett confesses that she finds it terribly sad and believes it is not a tale with a happy ending. However, she acknowledges the allure of fairy tales and the initial magic surrounding Jackie and JFK’s relationship.
In the end, Charles Bartlett summed it up succinctly when discussing his role in introducing JFK to Jackie: “He needed a gal. And we found him a hell of a gal.”