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Monday, July 19, 1999 Published at 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK

World: Americas

JFK Junior: Born into fame and tragedy

JFK Junior: Never directly involved in politics

The loss of John F Kennedy Junior is the latest in a long history of tragedies which has become known as the curse of the Kennedys.

Kennedy Tragedy
JFK Junior was born in November 1960, not long after his father John F Kennedy was elected president, and is known to millions of Americans by his nickname "John John".

The BBC's Jon Kay reports on JFK Jnr's career
The lasting memory of JFK Junior is of him as a tiny child - on his third birthday - proudly saluting the coffin of his assassinated father.

The BBC's Tim Maby reflects on a man who was always very much his father's son.
The image of the little boy in the blue coat has remained for many Americans a key image in the post-war era.

Unlike many of the Kennedy clan, he was not involved directly in politics.

Instead he became a national figure in the United States because of his name, a role he did not always feel comfortable with.

"The answers to the most frequently asked personal questions are as follows: Yes, no, we're merely good friends, none of your business, honest she's my cousin from Rhode Island, I've worn both, maybe someday but not New Jersey," he once said.

Media ambitions

John F Kennedy Junior spent much of his life in public service, working for underprivileged youth, the homeless and the disabled. For the last few years he worked in the media.

A handsome law-school graduate, although he struggled to pass his exams, he was best known for launching George, a glossy US political magazine.

[ image: A powerful and enduring image]
A powerful and enduring image
After graduating from Brown University, he went to law school and joined the Manhattan district attorney's office.

The law did not hold much appeal for him and in 1995 he launched the magazine which was subtitled "not just politics as usual".

His mother, who died five years ago, was an important influence and it was she who vowed to give him a normal family life.

As a bachelor he was once voted the sexiest man alive. He married in 1996 to his long-term sweetheart Carolyn Bessette - a PR advisor for Calvin Klein.

According to Aviation Week, JFK Junior earned his private pilot's licence at Flight Safety International, a respected US flight school, in Florida.

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