Kitty Dukakis

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Kitty Dukakis
Born Katharine Dickson
(1936-12-26) December 26, 1936 (age 79)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Religion Jewish
Spouse(s) John Chaffetz (?–?)
Michael Dukakis (1963–present)
Children John Dukakis
Parent(s) Harry Ellis Dickson
Jane Dickson

Katharine Dickson Dukakis (born December 26, 1936), known as Kitty Dukakis, is the wife of former Massachusetts governor and U.S. presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.

Life and career[edit]

Dukakis was born Katharine Dickson in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Jane (née Goldberg) and Harry Ellis Dickson. Her paternal grandparents were Russian Jews; her mother was born to an Irish Catholic father and a Hungarian Jewish mother, and had been adopted by a family of German Jewish descent.[1][2][3][4] Dukakis' father was a member of the first violin section of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 49 years and also served as Associate Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.[5] At age 19, she dropped out of college to marry John Chaffetz. They had one son, John. The marriage did not last and she moved to Brookline.[6] Dukakis received her B.A. from Lesley College in 1963, the same year she married Michael Dukakis.[7] She received a M.A. degree from Boston University School of Communication in 1982.

During the 1988 presidential election, a number of rumors were reported in the media about the Dukakises, including the claim by Idaho Republican Senator Steve Symms that Katharine Dukakis had burned a United States flag to protest the Vietnam War.[8]

In 1989, Dukakis was briefly hospitalized after drinking rubbing alcohol.[9] In 1991, Dukakis published her memoir, Now You Know, in which she candidly discussed her ongoing battle with alcoholism. The book also discussed the pressures of being a political wife, and her disappointment over her husband's defeat in the 1988 election. In 2006, she revealed having undergone electroconvulsive therapy treatment beginning in 2001 in order to treat major depression, publishing her experiences in the book Shock.

In 2007, the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, opened a center for addiction treatment named after Dukakis.[10]

Dukakis appears in the 2008 documentary on Lee Atwater, Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story.

Published works[edit]

Public service[edit]

Dukakis has served on the President's Commission on the Holocaust, on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, on the board of the Refugee Policy Center, and on the Task Force on Cambodian Children.


External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Jessie Sargent
First Lady of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Josephine King
Preceded by
Josephine King
First Lady of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Susan Roosevelt Weld
Preceded by
Joan Mondale
Wife of the Democratic Presidential Nominee
Succeeded by
Hillary Rodham Clinton