With her height and cool blonde looks, Bessette occasionally worked as a model. She was a saleswoman for the Boston Calvin
Klein store before being transferred to New York, where, ostensibly as a publicist (but actually a saleswoman for celebrities
and other high-profile customers purchasing the high-end Calvin Klein clothing), she met John F. Kennedy, Jr.. The attractive couple became a popular paparazzi target, with gossip columns detailing where they ate, shopped and even the arguments they had. Photographers waited outside
their Tribeca apartment to snap photographs. Bessette was reportedly very uncomfortable with the media frenzy and the repeated comparisons
to Jacqueline Kennedy. She married Kennedy on September 21, 1996 on Cumberland Island, Georgia in a historic Baptist church. The wedding was small and secret in an effort to elude the media.
Death and aftermath
On July 16, 1999, Bessette-Kennedy left Essex County Airport in Fairfield Township, New Jersey in a small plane piloted by her husband to attend a family wedding in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Her sister Lauren (who was survived by a twin, Lisa Ann) was to be dropped off at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts before the couple continued on to their destination. The plane never arrived at its destination, and was discovered
4 days later. Although the actual cause of the crash cannot be known, it is the official determination of the NTSB that a
confluence of circumstances, including poor visibility at nightfall, along with Kennedy's relative flying inexperience in
these conditions and his recently-healed broken leg caused him to lose his bearings. The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean,
approximately seven miles off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. All three people onboard were killed.
In 2005, close friend Carole Radziwill, widow of John F. Kennedy, Jr's cousin and best man, Anthony Radziwill, published her memoirs, containing fond memories of Carolyn Bessette and John, including her memories of the plane crash
that took place just weeks before her husband's death from cancer.
July 19, 1999 Web posted at:
5:59 p.m. EDT (2159 GMT)
From staff and wire reports
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Carolyn Bessette Kennedy was pushed into the spotlight when she joined the nation's most prominent
political family, but the fashion publicist handled the pressure with elegance and style.
Bessette Kennedy, 33, along with her husband, John F. Kennedy Jr., and her sister, Lauren Bessette,
were on board the plane that crashed Friday night.
Before she joined the Kennedy clan, Bessette Kennedy enjoyed a life of privilege in the upscale suburb
of Greenwich, Connecticut. She was the youngest of three sisters. Lauren and Lisa Ann, 18 months older, are identical
Their mother, Ann Freeman, worked as a teacher and administrator in the New York public schools. Their
stepfather, an orthopedic surgeon, brought the three daughters into the family.
At the private St. Mary's High School, classmates named Carolyn "The Ultimate Beautiful Person." At
Boston University, she majored in elementary education, then took a marketing job with a nightclub consortium after graduation.
Her stunning good looks landed her a job at a Calvin Klein shop in Boston. She so impressed the designer himself that he hired her to work as a publicist in his
New York office.
In New York City, she met Kennedy, the son of assassinated President John F. Kennedy. In September
1996, the couple wed in a secret ceremony in a historic African Baptist church on Cumberland Island along the Georgia coast.
Carolyn Bessette Kennedy was an instant tabloid favorite after the marriage. Reporters pursued her.
Columnists gossiped about her life. Photographers staked out the couple's Tribeca loft apartment in Manhattan.
Her style and elegant looks drew comparisons with her late mother-in-law, Jacqueline Kennedy, whom
Carolyn never met. The New York Daily News proclaimed her "Camelot's New Queen."
"She is one of those mysterious creatures that understands, on some deep level, mystical femininity,"
her husband's friend, John Perry Barlow, once wrote in New York magazine.
Bessette Kennedy had difficulty adjusting to the media scrutiny that came with membership in America's
version of a royal family.
But eventually she became more at ease in the spotlight. Ed Klein of Vanity Fair recalled her as a
"very strong woman, not at all intimidated" by her husband's fame.
Correspondent Richard Roth and The Associated Press contributed to this report.