Not only was Jackie Kennedy one of the most iconic first ladies of the United States, but she paved the way for women in history. She was admired for her beauty, grace, and fashion and was constantly making headlines. With all of this going on, there was one man who was always by her side. And it wasn’t her husband.
Introducing Clint Hill
Almost every famous person has some kind of bodyguard or security team. For Jackie Kennedy, that person was Clint Hill.
Hill made it his life’s mission to protect her at all costs. While he was a bit disappointed to go from being the secret service agent for President Eisenhower to Kennedy, he soon became her righthand man.
Getting The News
Being a secret service agent for a president is no easy task, so Hill was a bit let down when he got the news he would be working for Kennedy.
“I got the word…that I was to go back to Washington for a new assignment. After an intensive interview, they advised me I was going to be assigned to Mrs. Kennedy. I was very disappointed,” said Hill.
Why Hill Wasn’t Thrilled
Hill wanted to stay where all the action was, so going from a president to a first lady seemed like a blow to his career.
“I had seen what life was like for the agents assigned to Mrs. Eisenhower, Mrs. Truman and other first ladies. It meant they were going to tea parties and fashion shows,” said Hill.
Jackie Wasn’t Like Other First Ladies
Her bodyguard went into the job thinking that it would be dull and unrewarding, but he would soon be mistaken.
“As it turned out, it was the best assignment anyone could have ever had, because [Jackie] was so happy and we did so many different things,” said Hill. Jackie was no ordinary first lady.
Some Background On Jackie
Jackie was already quite well-known before she married John F. Kennedy. Coming from a family so well-to-do in society such as the Bouvier clan, she was given many special opportunities.
Growing up, those close to her were in awe of her beauty, intelligence, wit, and style. She was full of ambition and even wrote in her high school yearbook that she didn’t want to become a housewife.
Becoming A First Lady
Being the wife of John F. Kennedy meant that Jackie had to be ready to take on the challenges of becoming the first lady of the United States.
Instead of sitting on the sidelines, she was ready to make some change. One of her biggest projects was restoring the White House.
Bringing Honor To The White House
One of the main reasons why Jackie Kennedy was so fixated on her White House restoration was because it had lost its historical significance.
“…practically nothing that dates back before 1948. Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to redecorate it…It must be restored,” said Kennedy.
She Kept Working
With practically everything she set her mind to doing, she succeeded. The White House restoration was a major success.
She soon started a committee to preserve historical White House artifacts and put them on display. Much of her efforts went towards preserving the Oval Office, which is why it still looks great today.
Jackie Made A Difference
Each first lady has their own legacy and for Jackie it was that of a preservationist. Not only did she do a bunch of preservation work in the White House, but she also was involved with preservation abroad.
Her work on the White House was so admired that she was given her own television special where she won an honorary Emmy Award.
Hill Got To Know Jackie Quite Well
Since Hill’s job was protecting the life of Jackie, he ended up becoming one of her closest confidants.
He learned that Jackie had no real interest in politics and would rarely accompany her husband for public appearances. Hill knew that her first and main focus in life was raising her children.
Jackie As A Mother
While being the first lady was already taxing, Kennedy knew she needed to be a good mother.
“[Jackie] was a very dedicated, devoted mother. She wanted her two children, Caroline and John, to grow up as unspoiled as possible. I always said that was not possible since they were the children of a president…,” said Hill.
Jackie Got The Secret Service Agents Involved With Parenting
It was important to Jackie that her children had a normal childhood and she even got her secret service agents involved.
“[Jackie] made sure that the agents who were around her didn’t help the children get up if they fell down…We wanted to keep them safe, but she asked us to allow them as much natural growth as children as possible,” said Hill.
Her Popularity Surpassed The President
Even though John F. Kennedy was the president, people from all over the world seemed as if they were more interested in Jackie.
“Mrs. Kennedy would attract large crowds. The president would draw 50,000 people at an event. But, when she was with him, the crowd would be 100,000,” said Hill.
Her Life On Screen
Since Jackie Kennedy is one of the most famous women in American history, her life has been portrayed many times on screen.
Actresses such as Natalie Portman, Katie Holmes, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Jacqueline Bisset have all played the former first lady on film. Portman even earned an Academy Award nomination for her starring role in 2016’s Jackie.
Natalie Portman On Playing Jackie Kennedy
One of the hardest things actors can do is play a real person on screen. Portman had to do a lot of research and preparation in order to portray Kennedy in Jackie.
“It’s different if they’re still alive. Then, you have this responsibility to them. So maybe it was freeing, in a way, knowing that she wasn’t going to watch it, you know?,” said Portman.
Hill Was Displeased With Jackie
Hollywood tends to embellish things when it comes to biopics and Hill thought Jackie was the farthest thing from the truth.
He thought both Portman and the movie in its entirety didn’t capture the real Jackie at all and that there were a ton of inaccuracies. Hill was very disappointed after watching it.
Jackie Was Portrayed Incorrectly
For Hill, watching Jackie was one of the hardest things to get through because the film supposedly portrayed her in a much more negative light.
“I walked away shaking my head because of the inaccuracies in the film. They made [Jackie] seem like she was a chain smoker when she was not…They invented that she drank heavily, and she did not,” said Hill.
Jackie Filmmakers Made Stuff Up
Not only were a lot of Kennedy’s personal traits embellished, but there were also scenes that were completely made up.
Hill was particularly angry about one scene. “They had her coming to me and asking me a question about the assassination, and she asked me what caliber gun it was. That never happened,” said Hill.
Jackie Wasn’t All Bad
While Hill had a lot of mixed feelings about the content of Jackie, he was actually quite impressed with Portman’s performance.
“She did a remarkable job, especially in her speaking. I know that it had to have been very difficult, and she must have worked very hard,” said Hill. Portman ended up losing the Oscar to Emma Stone for La La Land.
Hill Was Left Out A Lot In Jackie
While Hill, played by actor David Caves, was briefly featured in 2016’s Jackie, he didn’t appear as much as he thought he should.
“From the time the assassination occurred through to the funeral, I was with [Jackie] every waking moment,” said Hill. Hill was also frustrated that screenwriter Noah Oppenheim didn’t contact him for the script’s accuracy.
The Relationship Between Hill And Jackie
Hill made it his mission to be the most trusted person in Jackie’s life. He took his job very seriously.
“I was really her confidant. We were very, very close. She and I had a wonderful relationship, very professional. We discussed many things…I ended up being her social secretary, her press secretary, her ambassador,” said Hill.
He Keeps Her Memory Alive
Kennedy has been gone for almost three decades, but Hill will do his best to share her legacy with the world.
He has written several books such as Five Days in November and Mrs. Kennedy and Me where he talks about their relationship. Hill will sometimes give interviews speaking about Kennedy as well.
Who Was Jackie Kennedy?
It’s hard to know someone just by how they present themselves to the media. Hill had an inside look on the real Jackie.
“Most people saw Mrs. Kennedy as a Barbie doll sitting on a pedestal. That’s not who she was. She was really down-to-earth – a very elegant and classy lady, but she had a very bawdy sense of humor,” said Hill.
Her Favorite Hobbies
In order to have a fulfilling life, Kennedy made sure to take in plenty of interests outside of being the first lady.
“She loved to ride horses and was an excellent horsewoman. She loved to water-ski, loved to play golf, loved to play tennis, and walk. It kept me on my toes,” said Hill.
Hill Created A Cocktail
One of Hill’s fondest memories with Jackie was their trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast in 1962. While there, he accidentally created a now popular cocktail.
If you’ve ever heard of the “Clint,” then you should know that it was crafted by Hill himself. It includes a double Campari, a single vodka, soda, ice, and an orange slice.
Follow Him On Instagram
Clint Hill is 90-years-old, but he still wants to stay in touch with the current times. He even has his own Instagram account, which is @clinthill_ss.
He often makes posts centered on Jackie and the Kennedy family. Those who want to learn unique facts about her life will definitely find some there.
Personal Anecdote From Hill
It’s been several decades since Hill has interacted with Kennedy, but their time together is still fresh in his mind.
“I was fortunate to know Mrs. Kennedy on a personal level, and I have fond memories of our time together in India, Pakistan, Morocco, Italy, and France, as well as Palm Beach, Hyannis Port, and Middleburg, VA,” said Hill.
Shedding Her Public Persona
Hill is adamant that the public didn’t really know Jackie the way that he did.
“Yes, she had the grace, dignity, and style that people still write about to this day, but to me, she will always be that woman the public didn’t see. We went through so much together, Mrs. Kennedy and me,” said Hill.
Hill’s Biggest Regret
November 22, 1963 will go down as one of the most horrific days in United States history. Clint Hill was there for it all, but he has one major regret.
“I still wish that I could have got there quicker, but unfortunately I’m not faster than a speeding bullet,” said Hill.
Hill’s Later Career
After Hill stopped being Kennedy’s bodyguard in 1964, he went on to serve under Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford.
The event in 1963 led to years of physical and emotional deterioration, which finally caused him to retire from the Secret Service in 1975. “I was surprised, shocked, and I went into a state of depression,” said Hill.