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JFK | Clip

Jackie and the White House

 Jackie Kennedy debuted her White House restoration project in a television special called "A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy." When the show producer showed John Kennedy clips of the film, he looked on in adoration.


Narrator: Jackie Kennedy spent much of her time and energy in the first year restoring the White House. She raised more than a million dollars for the project, hired an expert on American antiquities and decorative arts, along with her favorite interior designer from Paris, and remade the stodgy old pile. Her passion for the project was evident, which Dr. Martin Luther King learned when a Kennedy aide, Harris Wofford, sneaked him into the private residence for a meeting with the President.

Harris Wofford, Special Assistant on Civil Rights: Kennedy had to tell King that there would be no effort to get a civil rights bill through the first Congress. And it was a great concern as to how King would take this. And we got in the elevator to go up, and it went down instead, and Jacqueline Kennedy got on, in jeans and soot on her face. And I introduced her to Dr. King, and she said, "Oh, Dr. King, I just wish you had been in the basement with me this morning, looking at Andrew Jackson furniture, you would have been thrilled down there." And we got off, and she said, "But you have other things to talk to Jack about, I know." And I thought to myself, she sounded a little wacky, a little bit, charming but wacky. King was completely mellowed by it. He said, "My! Wasn't that something?"

Narrator: The First Lady was so pleased with the results that she agreed to unveil her handiwork to the American people, in an hour-long television special: "A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy."

Charles Collingwood, CBS News (archival): Mrs. Kennedy, I want to thank you for letting us visit your official home. This is obviously the room from which much of your work on it is directed.

Jacqueline Kennedy (archival): Yes, it's attic and cellar all in one.

Sally Bedell-Smith, Writer: She prepared assiduously for the day of shooting. The shooting took seven hours. There were eight cameras. The producer, Perry Wolff, was amused that between takes, she smoked almost nonstop. And he saw that every time she smoked, she took her cigarette and she dumped the ash on the beautiful tapestry bench that she was sitting on. But she performed impeccably.

Charles Collingwood, CBS News (archival): Mrs. Kennedy do you spend a good deal of time in the Lincoln Room?

Jacqueline Kennedy (archival): We did in the beginning. It was where we lived when we first came here, when our rooms at the other end of the hall were being painted. I loved living in this room. It's on the sunny side of the house, and one of Andrew Jackson's magnolia trees is right outside the window.

Sally Bedell-Smith, Writer: That night Perry Wolff stayed around and showed them some of the early rushes. And when the lights came up, Perry Wolff told me that he looked over at Jack and he saw a look of pure adoration and admiration.

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