The Kennedy curse is a term for the series of misfortunes involving members of the American Kennedy family. While Ted Kennedy publicly wondered whether a "curse actually did hang over all the Kennedys" during his own testimony about the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, skeptics have argued that many of the events are normal, and it is not improbable that a large extended family would experience them.
Events that have been cited as evidence of the family's misfortunes include:
- 1941 — Rosemary Kennedy was often believed to have been intellectually disabled, and due to her severe mood swings and the worry that she would damage the Kennedy reputation, her father, Joseph Sr., arranged in secret for her to undergo a lobotomy. The lobotomy instead left her unable to walk or speak well, and as a result, Rosemary remained institutionalized until her death in 2005. Rosemary's condition may have inspired her sister, Eunice, to initiate the Special Olympics in 1962.
- August 12, 1944 — Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. died when his plane exploded over East Suffolk, England, as part of Project Anvil during World War II.
- May 13, 1948 — Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington died in a plane crash in France.
- August 9, 1963 — Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died of infant respiratory distress syndrome two days after his premature birth (which itself occurred on the 20th anniversary of his father's World War II rescue). Jackie missed the funeral because she was still recovering from the C-section at Otis Air Force Base.
- November 22, 1963 — U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby two days later before he could stand on trial. In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin. In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that the assassination was a result of a conspiracy and that Oswald did not act alone.
- June 19, 1964 — U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy was involved in a plane crash in which one of his aides and the pilot were killed. Ted was pulled from the wreckage by fellow senator Birch Bayh and spent weeks in a hospital recovering from a broken back, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding.
- June 5, 1968 — U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles immediately following his victory in the California Democratic presidential primary. Sirhan pleaded guilty to Robert's murder and is serving a life sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.
- July 18, 1969 — In the Chappaquiddick incident, Ted Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, which fatally trapped his 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, inside. Ted pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of the accident causing personal injury. In his televised statement a week later, Ted stated that on the night of the incident he wondered "whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys."
- August 13, 1973 — Joseph P. Kennedy II was the driver of a Jeep that crashed and left his passenger, Pam Kelley, paralyzed.
- April 25, 1984 — David A. Kennedy died of a cocaine and pethidine overdose in a Palm Beach, Florida hotel room.
- April 1, 1991 — William Kennedy Smith was arrested and charged with the rape of a young woman at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach, Florida. The subsequent trial attracted extensive media coverage. Smith was acquitted.
- December 31, 1997 — Michael LeMoyne Kennedy died in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado.
- July 16, 1999 — John F. Kennedy Jr. died when his plane he was piloting, a Piper Saratoga, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard due to pilot error and spatial disorientation. His wife and sister-in-law were also on board and died.
- September 16, 2011 — Kara Kennedy died of a heart attack while exercising in a Washington, D.C. health club at age 51. Kara had reportedly suffered from lung cancer nine years earlier, but she had recovered after the removal of part of her right lung.
- May 16, 2012 — Mary Richardson Kennedy committed suicide on the grounds of her home in Bedford, Westchester County, New York.
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- Russell, Jenna (February 17, 2009). "Chapter 3: Chappaquiddick: Conflicted ambitions, then, Chappaquiddick". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 21, 2010.Also published in the book The Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, Simon & Schuster, 2009, chapter 3.
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