CBSN

JFK Jr.: 1960-1999

Its a powerful and enduring image: a 3-year-old boy in a blue coat and shorts, bravely fighting back tears as he salutes his father's casket. The only son of the 35th president of the United States, he was the young prince and heir to the throne of Camelot.

For a younger generation, he became the "sexiest man alive," a handsome magazine publisher romantically linked with movie stars like Daryl Hannah and Madonna.

Now, the tragic legacy so many times connected with the Kennedy name continues with John F. Kennedy Jr. A plane Kennedy was flying on July 16, 1999, crashed off Martha's Vineyard en route to a family wedding. Kennedy, wis wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, were killed.

Kennedy was piloting the small, single-engine Saratoga II HP. He had obtained his license within the past 15 months and purchased the aircraft in April.

He was born Nov. 25, 1960, between his father's election and Inauguration Day. The only child ever born to a president-elect, he became known to the nation as "John-John", a name erroneously bestowed on him by a reporter who misheard a conversation.

Cecil Stoughton, the official Kennedy White House photographer, took an estimated 80,000 snapshots of the family, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts.

"It's just a sad time," he says. "I feel very strongly I've lost a good friend."

Although Stoughton says he is saddened, he is not surprised. Adventure is a part of every Kennedy man. As a boy, he says, John loved helicopters.

"He couldn't live unless he saw a helicopter every day. I gave him a photograph of one and he carried it around like a toy, like a blanket. He always had a helicopter in his mind or in his mouth. Of course, he couldn't say helicopter. He'd say 'telicopter.'"

From an early age he was exposed to the tragedies that befell the family. A brother, Patrick, was born on Aug. 7, 1963, but died two days later.

His father was killed by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. At the Washington funeral young John-John saluted his father's flag-draped casket as it passed by St. Matthew's Cathedral.

After his father's murder, his mother Jacqueline moved the family to Manhattan, where she raised John and older sister Caroline after her marriage to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. While JFK Jr. was close to his cousins, his mother kept the children somewhat apart from the rest of the family.


JFK Jr. and Carolyn
Unlike other family members, Kennedy never ran for political office.[For more information about Kennedy and politics, click here.] He graduated from Brown University and went to law school. After finally passing the bar exam after several highly publicized failures, he joined the Manhattan distrit attorney's office.

In 1988, People magazine named him the sexiest man alive. That same year, in a speech to the Democratic National Convention, many sensed JFK Jr. was growing into his name, reports CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason.

In 1995, he launched the offbeat political magazine George - its tagline was "Not just politics as usual." The magazine debuted with a splash: supermodel Cindy Crawford donned a white wig and little else to pose as George Washington. The celebrity covers became the magazine's trademark. A cover photo of Drew Barrymore evoked Marilyn Monroe's birthday serenade to President Kennedy.[For more information about George, click here.]

JFK Jr. broke hearts all over the world when he married girlfriend Carolyn Bessette, a former publicist for fashion designer Calvin Klein, on Sept. 21, 1996. They were wed in a secret ceremony on a small island off the coast of Georgia, free of hovering helicopters and paparazzi.

Bessette, 33, a doctor's daughter from Greenwich, Conn., studied at Boston University before taking a public relations job in New York, where she met Kennedy.