Jackie Kennedy: America’s First Lady Wows India in 1962
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Fifty years ago, in March 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy traveled to India on a goodwill tour. “If she commanded fewer crowds than previous, official tourists like President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth,” LIFE wrote in its March 23, 1962 issue, “she [nevertheless] conducted herself magnificently.”
Kennedy — all of 32 years old and, a full year into her husband’s administration, arguably the most famous woman in the world — “wore a perpetual grin and a dazzling collection of clothes that were both perfect and simple” during her March 12-21 visit. But, as correspondent Anne Chamberlin reported, she “was not slavishly given over to Kennedy ways. One morning when a lot of Kennedys would have been up to see the sun rise over Delhi or swim 80 laps in the pool, Jackie slept late.”
Here, LIFE.com offers a series of both published and previously unpublished photographs from Kennedy’s 1962 trip — images that capture a young woman, wife, mother and fashion icon-in-the-making (“Her every seam has been the subject of hypnotized attention from the streets of Delhi to the Khyber Pass,” Chamberlin wrote) navigating the high-stakes, high-stress worlds of diplomacy and international relations with apparent ease and inimitable aplomb.