John Vernou Bouvier III

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John Vernou Bouvier III
Black Jack Bouvier.jpg
Born(1891-05-19)May 19, 1891
DiedAugust 3, 1957(1957-08-03) (aged 66)
Resting placeMost Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery
Other namesBlack Jack Bouvier
Alma materColumbia College
Sheffield Scientific School (BA)
Known forFather of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
(m. 1928; div. 1940)
ChildrenJacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Lee Radziwill
RelativesJohn Vernou Bouvier Jr. (father)
Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (sister)
Edith Bouvier Beale (niece)
Phelan Beale, Jr. (nephew)
Bouvier Beale (nephew)

John Vernou "Black Jack" Bouvier III (/ˈbvi/ BOO-VEE-AY; May 19, 1891 – August 3, 1957) was an American Wall Street stockbroker and socialite. He was the father of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and of socialite Lee Radziwill, and was the father-in-law of John F. Kennedy.

Early life and education[edit]

John Vernou Bouvier III was born in East Hampton, New York. His nickname, "Black Jack", referred to his perpetually dark-tanned skin and his flamboyant lifestyle.[1][2]

Bouvier's great-grandfather, Michel Bouvier, was a French cabinetmaker from Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the southern Provence region. Michel immigrated to Philadelphia in 1815 after fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, worked for Joseph Bonaparte, married, was widowed, and then married Louise Clifford Vernou. [3][4]

In addition to crafting fine furniture, Michel Bouvier had a business distributing firewood. To support that business, he acquired large tracts of forested land, some of which contained a large reserve of coal. Michel further grew his fortune in real estate speculation. His sons, Eustes, Michel Charles (M.C.), and John V. Bouvier Sr., distinguished themselves in the world of finance on Wall Street. They left their fortunes to their only remaining male Bouvier heir, Major John Vernou Bouvier Jr., who used some of the money to buy an estate known as Lasata in East Hampton, Long Island.[4]

Major John Vernou Bouvier, Jr. (born 1866), a successful attorney, and Maude Frances Sergeant (born 1869)[5] had five children, of whom John Vernou Bouvier III was the eldest. Their other children were William Sergeant "Bud" Bouvier, who was born in 1893 and died from alcoholism in 1929; Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, who was born in 1895 and became the wife of Phelan Beale, Sr. and the mother of Edith Bouvier Beale, Phelan Beale, Jr., and Bouvier Beale; and twins Maude Reppelin Bouvier Davis and Michelle Caroline Bouvier Scott Putnam (born 1905).[6][7][8]

John Vernou Bouvier III attended Philips Exeter Academy and Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School. He then studied at Columbia College, his father's alma mater, where he played tennis for two years before transferring to the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University.[9][10] While attending Yale, he was a member of the Book and Snake secret society and the Cloister Club. He graduated in 1914.[11][4]

Career and military service[edit]

Upon his graduation, he went to work as a stockbroker at his father and uncle's firm: Bouvier, Bouvier & Bouvier. In 1917, he left the firm to join the United States Navy. When the Navy proved to be too strenuous[citation needed], 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.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Bouvier married Janet Norton Lee, the daughter of real estate developer James T. Lee, on July 7, 1928, at St. Philomena's Church in East Hampton. They had two daughters, Jacqueline Lee "Jackie" Bouvier (1929–1994) and Caroline Lee Bouvier (1933–2019).[12] Bouvier's drinking, gambling, and philandering led to the couple's divorce in June 1940.[13] Bouvier never remarried.

In June 1942, Janet Lee Bouvier married Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Jr.[14] Janet reportedly did not want her ex-husband to escort his daughter, Jacqueline, down the aisle for her 1953 wedding to John F. Kennedy, so Jacqueline was instead escorted by her step-father. However, some reports indicated Bouvier was too intoxicated to escort his daughter, leading Auchincloss to step in to give the bride away.[15]

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.[16][17]

Later life and death[edit]

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. He died two days later, on August 3, aged 66.[18] His funeral, which was arranged by his daughters Jacqueline and Lee, was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan after which his body was buried in the Bouvier family plot at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery in East Hampton, New York.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

Bouvier is thought to be the "Wall Street Jack" mentioned in the lyrics of "Forty Second Street", from the musical 42nd Street.[20]


  1. ^ "Was Jackie Kennedy the 1st Black First Lady?". New England Historical Society. 2016-05-17. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  2. ^ "Inside Grey Gardens With Gail Sheehy -- New York Magazine - Nymag". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  3. ^ Davis, John H. (1969). The Bouviers: Portrait of an American Family. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  4. ^ a b c d Pottker, Jan (2002). Janet and Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Macmillan. pp. 48–50. ISBN 0-312-30281-9.
  5. ^ Latham, Caroline; Sakol, Jeannie (1989). The Kennedy Encyclopedia: An A-to-Z Illustrated Guide To America's Royal family. NAL Books. p. 22.
  6. ^ Guthrie, Lee (1978). Jackie: The Price Of the Pedestal. Drake Publishing. pp. 13.
  7. ^ "Michelle Bouvier Married In Garden; Wed To Henry C. Scott. Before a flower covered altar at Lasata, East Hampton. Twin Sister Honor Maid Bride Escorted By Her Father – Bridegroom's Brother His Best Man. The couple motored to Canada". The New York Times. July 6, 1926.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "Columbia Daily Spectator 29 April 1912 — Columbia Spectator". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  10. ^ "Columbia Daily Spectator 12 May 1911 — Columbia Spectator". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  11. ^ Davis, John H. (1969). The Bouviers: Portrait of an American Family. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. p. 192.
  12. ^ Bradford, Sarah (2001). America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Penguin. p. 10. ISBN 1-101-56401-6.
  13. ^ Badrul Alam, Mohammed (2006). Jackie Kennedy: Trailblazer. Nova Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 1-594-54558-8.
  14. ^ Davis, John H. (1993). The Kennedys: Dynasty and Disaster. SP Books. p. 230. ISBN 1-561-71060-1.
  15. ^ Klein, Edward (1997). All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Simon and Schuster. p. 155. ISBN 0-671-50191-7.
  16. ^ Andersen, Christopher (2013). These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie. Gallery Books. pp. 77–78. ISBN 1-476-73232-9.
  17. ^ Klein, page 36
  18. ^ Heymann, C. David (2008). American Legacy: The Story of John and Caroline Kennedy. Simon and Schuster. p. 58. ISBN 0-743-49739-2.
  19. ^ Spoto, Donald (2000). Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life. Macmillan. p. 139. ISBN 0-312-97707-7.
  20. ^