Heritage

This Revealing College Photoshoot Shows a Different Side of John F. Kennedy Jr.

The rare photos were taken while Kennedy was a student at Brown.
IMAGE JANE DRUMMOND
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Sometimes referred to as "the prince of Camelot," John F. Kennedy Jr. became a cultural icon in his own right for his effortless charm, preppy style, and of course, his extraordinary good looks. Since his death at the age of 38 in a plane crash in 1999, the appetite for information about America's first son has only grown.

The public continues to pour over every detail of his political aspirations and his top secret wedding to Carolyn Bessette; even his time at Brown is the subject of fascination. It turns out that while he was a college student, he sat for a rare—and revealing—photo shoot with his friend Jane Drummond.


These moody, body-baring photos give us a window into Kennedy's college years. In them, Kennedy sports some strategically-placed fabric, a dagger tattoo down his right arm, and little else.

The ink itself doesn't appear to have been of the permanent variety; bicep-flaunting photos from later in his life show no sign of the image, though persistent rumors suggest that he did, in fact, have a tattoo of a small shamrock somewhere on his body, the location of which varies, depending on the source, from his shoulder, to his foot, to his (famously shapely) backside.


The photos first came to light after Kennedy's death and were on the cover of US Weekly magazine. Drummond said at the time that she had chosen to keep the photoshoot a secret while her friend was alive out of respect for his privacy, though not because she thought he would be ashamed. "He wouldn't object to their publication now for the same reasons he sat for the photos," she told the publication at the time. "He was very self-confident and somewhat of an exhibitionist. He was clearly comfortable with his body, his beauty, his fame and his impact on people—especially women."

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The characterization is certainly in keeping with others' perspectives of JFK Jr.'s undergrad life. When he was voted People's Sexiest Man Alive in 1988, friends told stories about Kennedy and his roommate keeping a baby pig in the basement of the Phi Psi fraternity house, describing him as a ham, but in a lovable way.

Compared to his mother and sister, who frequently seemed uncomfortable with life in the spotlight, John John neither courted nor hid from his celebrity. Known for his jovial attitude toward paparazzi and his refusal to hide from the public eye, JFK Jr. was regularly photographed in various states of undress as he played football in Central Park or lounged among the waves in Martha's Vineyard.

Clearly he had nothing to hide either, though it turns out he wasn't always so sculpted. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' live-in assistant, Kathy McKeon, once recalled JFK jr. as a "scrawny kid" in his youth.

His ugly duckling phase was short-lived, it seems. McKeon's husband told People, “[I saw him after] he had just finished boarding school and I said, ‘What the hell happened to you?’ You just couldn’t believe it. He was like the statue of David. Just like that.”

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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