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John Vernou Bouvier III
File:Black Jack Bouvier.jpg
Born (1891-05-19)May 19, 1891
East Hampton, New York, U.S.
Died August 3, 1957(1957-08-03) (aged 66)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Liver cancer
Place of burial Most Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery
Nationality American
Other names Black Jack Bouvier
Alma mater Yale College
Occupation Stockbroker
Known for Father of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Religion Roman Catholicism
Spouse(s) Janet Norton Lee (m. 1928; div. 1940)
Children Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Lee Radziwill
Relatives Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (sister)
Edith Bouvier Beale (niece)
Phelan Beale, Jr. (nephew)
Bouvier Beale (nephew)
John F. Kennedy (son-in-law)

John Vernou "Black Jack" Bouvier III (May 19, 1891 – August 3, 1957) was an American Wall Street stockbroker and socialite. He was the father of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, socialite Lee Radziwill, and the father-in-law of President John F. Kennedy. His nickname, "Black Jack", referred to his omnipresent dark tan and his flamboyant lifestyle.

Life and career

Bouvier was born in East Hampton, New York. He was the eldest of five children born to Major John Vernou Bouvier, Jr. (1865–1948), a successful attorney, and Maude Frances Sergeant (1870–1940).[1] Bouvier's great-grandfather, Michel Bouvier (1792–1874), was a French cabinetmaker who immigrated to Philadelphia from Pont-Saint-Esprit in France after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, where he opened a cabinet making or furniture shop, making fine furniture for customers including Stephen Girard. As well as doing fine cabinetry, Michel Bouvier had a business distributing firewood. To support this he acquired large tracts of timber, some of which turned out to be above coal. Michel gained his fortune later in real estate speculation. His son, Michel Charles (M.C.) Bouvier, distinguished himself in the world of finance on Wall Street. M.C. left his fortune to his nephew, Major John Vernou Bouvier, Jr., who used it to buy an estate in East Hampton, Long Island, known as Lasata.[2]

Bouvier had a younger brother, William Sergeant "Bud" Bouvier (1893–1929), who died from alcoholism, and three younger sisters, Maude R. Bouvier Davis, Michelle C. Bouvier Scott Putnam, and Edith Ewing Bouvier (wife of Phelan Beale, Sr., mother of Edith Bouvier Beale, Phelan Beale, Jr., and Bouvier Beale).[3][4][5]

Bouvier attended Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University. While attending Yale, he was a member of the Book and Snake secret society and the Cloister Club. He graduated in 1914.[6][7] Upon his graduation, he went to work as a stockbroker at his brother-in-law's firm. In 1917, Bouvier left the firm to join the United States Navy. When the Navy proved to be too strenuous, he transferred to the United States Army where he served as a major. Bouvier was discharged in 1919 whereupon he went back to work as a stockbroker on Wall Street.[8]

Personal life

Bouvier married Janet Norton Lee on July 7, 1928 at St. Philomena's Church in East Hampton. They had two daughters, Jacqueline Lee "Jackie" Bouvier and Caroline Lee Bouvier.[9] Bouvier's drinking, gambling, and philandering led to their divorce in June 1940.[10] Bouvier never remarried.

In June 1942, Janet Lee married Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Jr.[11] Lee reportedly did not want Bouvier to escort his daughter Jacqueline down the aisle for her wedding to John F. Kennedy, so Jacqueline was instead escorted by her stepfather Auchincloss. Some reports indicate Bouvier was too intoxicated to escort his daughter, leading Auchincloss to step in to give the bride away.[12]

Later years and death

By the mid-1950s, Bouvier had sporadic contact with his daughters and family. He spent the majority of his time drinking alone at his New York City apartment located at 125 East 74th Street.[13][14]

In the spring of 1957, Bouvier was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. He checked into Lenox Hill Hospital on July 27, 1957 to undergo chemotherapy. On August 1, he fell into a coma and died two days later on August 3 at the age of 66.[15] His funeral, which was arranged by his daughter Jacqueline, was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan after which he was buried in the Bouvier family plot at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery in East Hampton, New York.[16]

In popular culture

Bouvier was portrayed in the 2000 TV mini-series Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Fred Ward.

He was also played by Rod Taylor in the 1981 TV movie Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

Portrayed by William Devane in the 1991 TV miniseries A Woman Named Jackie.

He is also thought to be the "Wall Street Jack" mentioned in the lyrics of Forty Second Street from the musical of the same name.[17]


  1. Latham, Caroline; Sakol, Jeannie (1989). The Kennedy Encyclopedia: An A-to-Z Illustrated Guide To America's Royal family. NAL Books. p. 22. 
  2. Pottker, Jan (2002). Janet and Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Macmillan. p. 48. ISBN 0-312-30281-9. 
  3. Guthrie, Lee (1978). Jackie: The Price Of the Pedestal. Drake Publishing. pp. 13. 
  4. "Michelle Bouvier Married In Garden; Wed To Henry C. Scott Before Flower. Covered Altar At Lasata, East Hampton. Twin Sister Honor Maid Bride Escorted By Her Father – Bridegroom's Brother His Best Man. Couple Motor To Canada.". The New York Times. July 6, 1926. 
  5. "Maude R. Bouvier Weds John E. Davis; 400 Guests See Ceremony At The East Hampton Home Of Bride's Parents. Many In The Bridal Party Twin Sister Of Miss Bouvier Is Matron Of Honor. Sun Comes Out Just Before Wedding. The Bride's Attendants. Wedding Breakfast For 400". The New York Times. September 4, 1928. 
  6. Davis, John H. (1969). The Bouviers: Portrait of an American Family. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. p. 192. 
  7. (Pottker 2002, pp. 48–49)
  8. (Pottker 2002, pp. 49–50)
  9. Bradford, Sarah (2001). America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Penguin. p. 10. ISBN 1-101-56401-6. 
  10. Badrul Alam, Mohammed (2006). Jackie Kennedy: Trailblazer. Nova Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 1-594-54558-8. 
  11. Davis, John H. (1993). The Kennedys: Dynasty and Disaster. SP Books. p. 230. ISBN 1-561-71060-1. 
  12. Klein, Edward (1997). All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Simon and Schuster. p. 155. ISBN 0-671-50191-7. 
  13. Andersen, Christopher (2013). These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie. Gallery Books. pp. 77–78. ISBN 1-476-73232-9. 
  14. (Klein 1997, pp. 36)
  15. Heymann, C. David (2008). American Legacy: The Story of John and Caroline Kennedy. Simon and Schuster. p. 58. ISBN 0-743-49739-2. 
  16. Spoto, Donald (2000). Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life. Macmillan. p. 139. ISBN 0-312-97707-7. 

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