MAXWELLANDERSON: John Hellmann is a Professor of English at Ohio State University and the author of The Kennedy Obsession: The American Myth of J.F.K.
JOHNHELLMANN: John F. Kennedy ran for President precisely in the year where, for the first time, it was said, it was reported that virtually every American home had a television set. And he drew upon the power of film—and Jackie Kennedy I think, learned to do that as well.
MAXANDERSON: Jacqueline Kennedy carefully planned her husband’s funeral, which was broadcast into countless homes across the nation.
JOHNHELLMANN: There was a black horse in the funeral that walked along without a rider—and this was meant to symbolize the fallen hero. She also came up with the idea of the eternal flame at his grave and it still burns at his grave in Washington DC.
All these were grand, theatrical elements that gave a special, kind of ceremonious meaning to her husband’s death. And it transformed its meaning from simply history and political science into the realm of art and myth. I think that’s one of the things that Andy Warhol, in the painting Nine Jackies, is drawing our attention to.