JFK's heir apparent
By JERRY OPPENHEIMER
Last Updated: 6:25 PM, February 27, 2013
Posted: 11:04 PM, February 26, 2013
New York Post
His grandfather, the president, and his great-uncle, the senator, were struck down five years apart by assassins’ bullets. Another uncle, his mother’s brother, was killed in a plane crash. Countless other terrible tragedies have befallen the Kennedy clan — America’s Royal Family. This all begs the question: How does a certain young scion of Camelot emotionally deal with such historically horrific dynastic events?
John Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg — JFK’s only grandson, the son of Caroline Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg — is now in training to save lives, not as a physician as one might expect of a wealthy Kennedy heir, but rather as a first responder.
The Yale University sophomore, who turned 20 last month, is learning to become an emergency medical technician. It’s a noncredit course he’s taking along with his academic studies, fulfilling his desire to help the injured, ill and dying, as best he can.
“Jack sees this training as a way to give back to the New Haven community that he’s living in, and where there’s obviously a lot of issues [such as crime and poverty],” says his best friend at Yale — who bonded with Schlossberg when they were summer interns together in Washington for Sen. John Kerry after their junior year of prep school, and asked to remain anonymous.
“Jack’s very aware of all the privileges and opportunities that come with his family, so his EMT training has a lot to do with the community-service aspect.”
People are already starting to talk about him as the heir to the Kennedy throne: His great-uncle Teddy Kennedy was his political mentor and godfather, and young Schlossberg is JFK’s only surviving male descendant since the fatal 1999 plane crash of his uncle — his mother Caroline’s brother, John F. Kennedy Jr.
Jack, as he’s called, is tall and good-looking, with a certain resemblance to the young pre-PT-109 JFK, and has a head of thick Kennedy-esque hair. At just the right angle, he looks strikingly like his Uncle John.
From 6:30 to 10 p.m. several nights a week on the Yale campus in New Haven, he attends classroom instruction and hands-on training sessions learning state-of-the-art, life-saving emergency medical techniques.
In order to receive his EMT certification, he must pass two semester-end exams based on what he’s been taught — a no-brainer for the bright, articulate, funny Ivy Leaguer who gave a memorably suggestive graduation speech at the exclusive Collegiate School on the Upper West Side.
Not surprisingly, politics is in Schlossberg’s DNA. He’s already put in time in Washington, DC, first serving as an intern for Sen. Kerry and then as a page on the Senate floor.
As his close college friend observes, “Politics is definitely one of Jack’s passions.”
During his freshman year, and into the first semester of this year, he has worked as a policy assistant for the New Haven Board of Aldermen’s public safety committee.
And this past fall he co-founded “Yale for Murphy,” to help win election for Chris Murphy, Connecticut’s 39-year-old junior US senator — naturally a Democrat — who beat the big-spending Republican, Linda McMahon.
“Jack really got the student body heavily involved,” says his Yale pal, who’s in the university’s Navy ROTC program, and who worked on the Murphy campaign with Schlossberg. “They had fun events going on, and they actually got Chris Murphy to come to campus.”
In addition to his political activism at Yale, he sometimes has them rolling in the aisles when he does his stand-up comedy shticks, and more than a few co-eds are said to lust after him. While he’s had a girlfriend or two in the past, he’s not currently seeing anyone special, his close friend at school claims.
Schlossberg declined to be interviewed for this story. In an e-mail, he wrote: “While I can’t escape being in the public eye, I feel that attaching myself to a profile, however legitimate and serious, in such a personal way would serve as a type of self-promotion that I’m not comfortable with.” But he noted that he was “flattered” to be the subject of a story.
UNLIKE his grandfather, JFK, and his great-uncles, the late senators, Teddy and Bobby, who went to Harvard, where the John F. Kennedy School of Government is located, young Schlossberg chose Yale for a couple of reasons: First was that one of his two sisters, Tatiana, 23, had matriculated there and loved it, and the second was because, as his close friend asserts, “Jack wants to be judged on his own merit and not be viewed as a Kennedy, as might be the case at Harvard. He wants to chart his own path.”
Still, at Yale, where he will likely major in history, his Kennedy pedigree is well-known, and he doesn’t attempt to hide it because of his pride in his mother’s family and of their legacy. “He just doesn’t want to be judged for, or judged by it,” says his pal. “He wants to be thought of as his own person. He’s also very proud of his Schlossberg side.”
His father, Edwin Arthur Schlossberg, has Russian Jewish roots, and was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family. His late paternal grandfather, Alfred Schlossberg, who had been in the garment business, had once served as president of the Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side. Jack, however, was raised a Catholic, like the Kennedys.
Ed Schlossberg went on to Columbia, where he earned a couple of Ph.D.s, in science and literature, and it was reported he had a reputation as “a great charmer of old men and young women.”
The latter was underscored when he fell for Caroline Kennedy at a dinner party in 1981. Caroline was a quiet, shy, very private 23-year-old, a first-year law student at Columbia University, and Schlossberg was a brash but enigmatic 36-year-old intellectual into lots of brainy projects no one ever really understood.
They were married at the Church of Our Lady of Victory, in Centerville, Mass., on Cape Cod, on July 19, 1986 — Schlossberg’s 41st birthday — in what the press called a “Royal Wedding,” planned by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Before long, the groom had been dubbed “Mr. Caroline Kennedy,” and “Camelot’s egghead-in-residence” by Spy magazine.
JACK Schlossberg clearly possesses the ambition, drive, personality and looks of his Kennedy forebears — and appears to be headed down the same political and relatively hunky path as those before him.
Even in the eighth grade he was an activist, raising more than $100,000 to purchase energy-efficient light bulbs for the poor to save on their electric bills as part of relightNY, which he co-founded.
Before heading off to join the freshman class at Yale in September 2011, Schlossberg quietly served during the summer of 2010 as a page in the US Senate, where he won his first election: The other pages voted to make him the floor page, responsible for filing amendments and other key duties.
At last year’s Democratic National Convention, Schlossberg got his first major television exposure when he was interviewed by CNN’s chief political correspondent and anchor, Candy Crowley, who told The Post, through her network spokeswoman, that she found Jack “to be impressive.”
When Crowley asked him about his support of President Obama, and whether the Ivy Leaguer was considering a political future in the Kennedy tradition, Schlossberg confidently declared: “Politics definitely interests me. I’m most interested in public service. That’s something that I get from being part of my family, which is such an honor.”
And his doting mom boasted to Crowley, “Jack’s great. I know whatever he does, he’ll do it with all his heart. So whatever that is, I’m fully behind it.”
One thing he did was inspire his mom to support Barack Obama in his first presidential run in 2008, and she went all out for him — making speeches, raising money. Now she’s reportedly on the president’s list to be named US ambassador to Canada. Two years ago Jack’s dad, founder of ESI Design, on lower Fifth Avenue, was appointed by Obama as one of the seven members of the US Commission of Fine Arts.
“In 2008,” observed Jack, “everyone was so excited [about Obama], and it was great to be able to talk to my mom and my Uncle Teddy and my sisters [Rose and Tatiana], and sort of talk about politics over three generations, and I was really inspired . . . about the promise Sen. Obama made to us, and now I’m really inspired by what he’s done so far.”
Schlossberg views the president as “an incredible ally” to America’s young people and particularly finds Obama’s support of gay marriage momentous, describing it as “very important to my generation.”
ALTHOUGH he realizes the seriousness of his family’s legacy, he’s still only 20 years old and acts like it at times.
In October, on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Jack and the son of the former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met for the first time at the Kennedy Presidential Library for a major symposium on the historic two-week nuclear confrontation, where Schlossberg was slated to give a speech.
Recalls his pal at Yale: “We had a great time on the train goofing off on our way to Boston, and in the taxicab Jack realized he forgot his dress socks, so I had to give him mine. But Jack got up and gave a very intelligent speech.”
Schlossberg’s wry and funny style is part of his Kennedy charm.
“A sense of humor is not genetic,” Sen. Kerry stated in the Congressional Record in 2011, “but apparently in the Kennedy family it can be inherited. In President Kennedy’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, this quality seems to abide.”
Kerry noted that he got “to know Jack well” during his page and intern duties. This was while Ted Kennedy’s health was deteriorating, and he was absent from his Senate duties. “Ted enjoyed very much the stories he heard and the photos he cherished of his great-nephew hard at work in the Senate Ted loved,” observed Kerry. “I enjoyed hearing from Jack about all the lessons he had learned from his uncle.”
Like his Uncle Ted, Jack, too, can hold an audience.
For his graduation speech at the Collegiate School, he had his audience of classmates, instructors, and parents applauding, cheering and in stitches, with his one-liners and classroom gossip.
“Our teachers encouraged us, just as much as we encouraged each other — to get weird,” he declared at one point. He even revealed that he got his “first kiss in second grade.”
He got a standing ovation.
For the Yale Herald and its Web site, he’s blogged on subjects ranging from politics to Barbara Walters, whom he declared “may be partially fossilized,” to “A guide to Yale’s public bathrooms.” About the Commons loo, he noted, “There are plenty of urinals, so you never have to worry about peeing too close.”
WHEN Schlossberg, who also has written opinion pieces for CNN.com, perceived that a November 2011 article in the New York Times was negative about his grandfather, the president, he took issue, and staunchly defended JFK’s legacy in a published letter to the editor of the Times. He wrote that he was “inspired by politics and history” and noted that his grandfather’s “legacy remains relevant today not because of Camelot or conspiracy, but because Americans find inspiration and meaning there.”
That letter “launched the political career” of young Schlossberg, notes Andrew Cohen, a contributing editor to the Atlantic.
With all of the attention he’s generating, it appears that Town & Country magazine missed the boat by not including the popular, only grandson of JFK in this month’s “Top 50 Bachelors” cover story, including “The Next JFK Jr.” Instead, it chose Christopher McKelvy, son of Sydney Kennedy Lawford; Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of the “Terminator” and Maria Shriver; and Conor Kennedy, RFK Jr.’s son, who recently had a very Swift romance.
T&C’s editor, Jay Fielden, acknowledges that Jack fell through the cracks, but hinted to The Post that he’ll be featured next year.
“He seems to be a very poised, intelligent young man, a very interesting guy, and obviously has the greatest of Kennedy traits, and certainly has an incredible head of hair, which is very important,” says the former editor of Men’s Vogue. “That sounds funny, but it just makes you think even more of his grandfather, and even of his uncle, John Jr.”
And Fielden wondered, “Do you think he’ll use the Schlossberg name if he runs for president?”
Jerry Oppenheimer, author of “The Other Mrs. Kennedy,” a biography of Ethel Kennedy, is writing a book about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. His biography of the Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid dynasty will be published this summer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.