Charles Collingwood and Jacqueline Kennedy
Emmy Moments: Jacqueline Kennedy
This year the Emmy Awards turn seventy-five! Get in the spirit with our series of time-defying flashbacks.
The only First Lady to win an award at the Emmys was Jacqueline Kennedy — though it wasn't precisely an Emmy. It was a Trustees Award, and it was accepted by Lady Bird Johnson on behalf of Kennedy at the 1962 ceremony, broadcast by NBC from L.A., New York and Washington, D.C.
Kennedy received the special award for her hourlong tour of the White House, which originally aired on February 14, 1962, on CBS — which then sold the rights to ABC and NBC. Approximately one out of every three Americans watched the first broadcast, and the worldwide audience exceeded 100 million.
The tour showcased the results of a privately funded restoration of the White House. The First Lady escorted CBS correspondent Charles Collingwood through various rooms, explaining the architecture and décor.
In the state dining room, Collingwood pointed to an inscription on the fireplace, which he said he "found one of the most moving things in the White House."
"Yes," Kennedy replied. "That is from the very first letter ever written from the White House. It was written by John Adams — the first president to live here — to his wife, Abigail. He'd only been here two days; [it was] November 2, 1800.
"And in it he said, 'I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever live under this roof.' It was Franklin Roosevelt who loved that prayer and had it put on the mantelpiece."
Kennedy's award resides at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #3, 2023.