The New York Times: ‘Jackie’: Under the Widow’s Weeds, a Myth Marketer
On Nov. 25, 1963, three days after becoming the world’s most famous widow, Jacqueline Kennedy slipped on a mourning veil. A diaphanous shroud reaching to her waist, it moved lightly as she walked behind her husband’s coffin in the cortege that traveled from the White House to St. Matthew’s Cathedral. The veil was transparent enough to reveal her pale face, though not entirely, ensuring that she was at once visible and obscured. “I don’t like to hear people say that I am poised and maintaining a good appearance,” she later said. “I am not a movie actress.”
Intensely affecting and insistently protean, the film “Jackie” is a reminder that for a time she was bigger than any star, bigger than Marilyn or Liz. She was the Widow — an embodiment of grief, symbol of strength, tower of dignity and, crucially, architect of brilliant political theater. Hers was also a spectacularly reproducible image. It’s no wonder that shortly after President John F. Kennedy died, Andy Warhol started on more than 300 portraits of the Widow, juxtaposing photographs of her taken before and after the assassination. She smiles in a few, in others she looks frozen (or is it stoic?); the ones that pop are tight close-ups. They look like frames for an unfinished motion picture.