But any hopes of a career in acting reportedly ended when his mother turned thumbs down.
Kennedy graduated from Brown University, went to law school and joined the Manhattan district attorney's office - but only after failing the bar twice. "HUNK FLUNKS," read one tabloid headline after one of those failures.
A biographer, Wendy Leigh, said JFK Jr. was the one member of his family who remained untarnished by scandal. It was an overstatement, but it summed up the way the world viewed him.
"It's hard for me to talk about a legacy or a mystique," Kennedy said in 1993. "It's my family. The fact that there have been difficulties and hardships, or obstacles, makes us closer."
Kennedy acquitted himself well as a prosecutor, winning all six of his cases, but he was never fulfilled by the job.
In 1995 he launched the magazine George - subtitled "not just politics as usual." (An online version of the magazine can be found on AOL; Keyword: George.)
The magazine kept Kennedy in the limelight and allowed him to do a bit of reporting. He interviewed ex-Alabama Gov. George Wallace, among others.