The Who2 Blog

Don’t Call Him “John-John”

John F. Kennedy, Jr. was never called “John-John” by his family.

At least, not according to JFK aide and speechwriter Ted Sorensen. In his 2008 book Counselor, Sorensen recalls sending a draft of his 1965 memoir Kennedy to Jacqueline Kennedy for her review.

At one point Sorensen had referred to “John-John, as his father called him.” That led to this note from Mrs. Kennedy:

His father never called him John-John — only John. That nickname now plagues the little boy — who may be stuck with it all his life. I know your book deals with more important things — but it would be great if you could put this nickname to bed.

I don’t know where it started, as both of us hated nicknames — our own — Jack and Jackie we thought a most unfortunate combination — and we always called our children by their first names.

I can only think it started when I was hugging John as a baby and saying nice things to him — like John, John — and some newspaper woman — it may have been dear old Laura Berquist — picked it up — John gets angry now when strangers call him John-John — because he thinks it is babyish — He has many fights in the park about it. You could help him if you said his father never called him that…

Mrs. Kennedy was right about the nickname sticking with her son all his life. But this is the first time we’d heard it was a mistake to start with.

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