Though the role of the Commander and Chief has evolved over the course of American history, the role of his wife has remained constant. To the American people, she has always been portrayed as a beacon of grace and patriotism. Jacqueline Kennedy may be the most well-known First Lady in American history partially because of her groundbreaking major media broadcast tour of the newly renovated White House. The season two episode of Mad Men “For Those Who Think Young”, make mention to the popularity of this tour and examines some of the culture significance when all of the women particularly and even some their husbands are consumed with the program.
By 1962, Americans had only dreamed to see such an in-depth look at the “Maison Blanche”, but Jackie set a new standard for future First Ladies and certainly represented the changing attitude about women of the time. She portrayed the typical accommodating housewife, inviting hundreds of millions of people into her home. In addition she also played a more authoritative role as the primary narrator in the broadcast. In fact, this was the first prime time documentary to have a woman as the primary narrator and Kennedy subsequently won and honorary Emmy for her performance. Because this program was geared specifically toward a female audience, Mrs. Kennedy’s performance as a strong woman sets an example for her fellow American women. Betty Draper and Trudy Campbell were two of the women on the show, both know for trying to be the ideal wife. This broadcast surely could have affected them and millions of women like them.
Contrary to the rest of her performance, at the end of the documentary, President Kennedy pops in for a quick interview with correspondent Charles Collingwood and Mrs. Kennedy is displaced to her stereotypical subordinate role. Though Jackie Kennedy has raised the expectations for First Ladies of the future, hopefully these fortunate women can also learn from her mistakes and become not only the wives of leaders, but leaders themselves.
Links consulted: http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=tourofthew