Featured Image: Growing up Kennedy: Family portrait at Hyannis Port, 1931: (from left) Robert, John, Eunice, Jean on lap of Joseph P. Sr., Rose Fitzgerald behind Patricia, Kathleen, and Joseph P. Jr. behind Rosemary. (Photograph by Richard Sears courtesy John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)
As one of the more prominent political families in the United States, the Kennedys have long since been recognized as public figures. Most notably, we remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) who served as president from 1961-1963, and his wife, the eventual Jackie O — short for Jackie Kennedy Onassis. His brother, Bobby, is also famous for running for president. And that’s only to name a few. But behind the public eye, behind the politics, this family had their own share of interesting events that took place.
Check out these 16 unique tales about this famous family.
- The family immigrated from Ireland and soon became involved in politics. Patrick Joseph, or PJ, was the first Kennedy to run for office. He served in the Massachusetts state legislature for 11 years, from 1884-1895.
- From 1947 until 2011, at least one Kennedy served in federal office — starting with JFK as a member of Massachusetts’ congress, and ending with PJ Kennedy’s great-grandson, also Patrick J. Kennedy, who retired from Congress as a member from Rhode Island.
- JFK had serious health problems, most of which he kept as absolute secrets to the public. His medical records were even sealed for decades after his death. He came close to death a few times before taking office, suffering from scarlet fever, whooping cough, Addison’s disease (a very rare diagnosis that affects the body’s adrenal glands), and more famously, extreme back problems. He had spinal fusion surgery to correct the latter; it’s stated that he may have been more easily killed due to the back brace he wore, as it kept him upright during the assassination — and therefore a more sure target — after he slouched from initial shots.
- Several other family members have had notable jobs and offices, including JFK’s sister, Eunice, who founded the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Special Olympics.
- Maria Shriver, Eunice’s daughter, is the former wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and through him, the former first lady of California.
- Edward Moore Kennedy, AKA Ted and brother to JFK and Bobby, remains as having been the fourth-longest serving senator. His stint ended when he died of a brain tumor in 2011. Hailing from Massachusetts, Ted sat in office for nearly 47 years.
- Jackie O dated the New Yorker cartoonist, Charles Addams, who is best known for creating the Addams Family. Yeah — what?!
- Speaking of Jackie O, she also had a terrible smoking addiction. For more than four decades, she smoked three packs a day — that’s 60 individual cigarettes every. single. day. She finally quit once diagnosed with non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma.
- TV and radio host Larry King had a car wreck with JFK. While visiting Miami, King allegedly hit the president’s parked vehicle in 1958.
- John, Robert, Jackie O, and Ted, and older brother Joseph, who served in the Navy, are all buried in Arlington National Cemetery
- Rose — JFK, Bobby, et all’s mother — implemented a “no crying” rule in her house. Other rules included strict diets, punishments for being late, and researching topics that had to be reported through dinner.
- JFK’s family had an insane amount of pets while living in the White House. That was a total of 11 dogs (11! One was donated to Jackie by Nikita Khrushchev), five horses, two hamsters, three birds, a cat and rabbits.
- While in office, JFK had recording devices installed throughout the White House. More than 300 hours were captured of meetings and phone calls, including some not-so-flattering comments from the president himself.
- Lore says the family may or may not be cursed, with Ted going as far as to announce it publicly. Some events that cause the comments of a curse include:
- Rosemary Kennedy, sister to JFK, Bobby, etc. was born with brain damage (due to lack of oxygen during birth). She received a botched lobotomy, leaving her incapacitated.
- Joseph Jr., the eldest child of Rose and John Sr., died while serving in World War II after piloting a plane that exploded in the air.
- Sister Kathleen died in a plane crash just four years later. Ted survived a different plane crash in 1964 — just months after the death of his brother. JFK and Jackie O’s son, John Jr., his wife, and sister-in-law also died in a plane crash in 1999. (His parents allegedly predicted this and attempted to keep him out of the air.)
- Of Bobby’s 11 kids, two died young — one in 1984 from a drug overdose and another in 1997 from a skiing accident. And in 2020, is granddaughter and great-grandson went missing from a short canoe trip, with the bodies found days later.
- And more — these are only to name a few.
- Jackie was reportedly offered money — to the tune of $1 million — to stay married to JFK. The deal was made by her father-in-law, John Sr., due to troubles, including infidelities, before they made it to the White House. John Sr. believed JFK’s political career would be ruined with a divorce.
They’ve had two family assassinations, happening five years apart. As the leading Democratic presidential nominee in the 1968 election, Robert Francis — also called RFK and Bobby — was assassinated by a 24-year old Palestinian, supposedly because of Kennedy’s support for Israel. This, and his brother’s assassination fed ongoing conspiracy theories, including those of political agendas against the family. Some theories say scapegoats were used in order to have the brothers killed. As to the actual culprit, theories range from politician figures — possibly the government — and the mob. Theories are fed by reports of overlooked evidence, witness intimidation (and death), evidence tampering, inconsistent reports, and more. More than 1,000 books have been written in correlation with JFK’s assassination alone.