The Kennedy curse is invoked to describe a series of misfortunes (known as the Kennedy family tragedies) involving members of the powerful and celebrated Kennedy family of the United States of America. Skeptics have argued that many of the events are normal, and it is not improbable that a large extended family would experience them.
There are many stories regarding of the placing of the curse on the Kennedy family. Some accounts have the curse's origin beginning with the fleeing of European Jews during World War II and of Joe, Sr.'s anti-Semitism. Other accounts have the curse originating in Ireland by disgruntled countrymen or spirits angered with Kennedy patriarch, Thomas Fitzgerald.
Believers in the curse generally cite the following events as evidence of the family's misfortunes:
- November, 1941—Rosemary Kennedy was often believed to have been intellectually disabled. Some sources have claimed she suffered from mental illness, including depression and schizophrenia. Because of her increasingly violent and severe mood swings, her father, Joe, Sr., arranged in secret for her to undergo a lobotomy. The lobotomy instead further impaired her cognitive abilities, and as a result, Rosemary remained institutionalized until her death in 2005.
- August 12, 1944—Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. died when his plane exploded over East Suffolk, England, as part of Project Anvil.
- May 13, 1948—Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington died in a plane crash in France.
- August 23, 1956—Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Although she is buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to her parents with a marker reading "Daughter", her parents had intended to name her "Arabella".
- August 9, 1963—Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died two days after his premature birth.
- November 22, 1963—U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the crime, but was shot and killed by Jack Ruby two days later before a trial could take place. The FBI and the Warren Commission officially concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin. Subsequent investigations agreed that Oswald fired the shots which killed Kennedy, but the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) also concluded that Kennedy was probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy.
- June 19, 1964—U.S. Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy was involved in a plane crash in which one of his aides and the pilot were killed. He was pulled from the wreckage by fellow senator Birch E. Bayh II 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 Bishara Sirhan in Los Angeles immediately following his victory in the California Democratic presidential primary. Sirhan pleaded guilty to Kennedy'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, that fatally trapped his young colleague, Mary Jo Kopechne, inside. In his televised statement a week later, Kennedy 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 car which crashed and left his passenger, Pam Kelley, paralyzed.
- November 17, 1973 - Ted Kennedy, Jr. had his right leg amputated because of bone cancer.
- October 30, 1975 - Martha Moxley was bludgeoned to death with a golf club. In 2002, Michael Skakel was convicted of murder, but a new trial was ordered in 2013.
- April 25, 1984—David 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. Earlier that same year, Kennedy was suspected of statutory rape after having a three-year affair with a 14-year-old baby sitter.
- July 16, 1999—John F. Kennedy Jr. died when his plane, 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 killed.
- September 16, 2011—Kara Kennedy Allen died of a heart attack while exercising in a Washington, D.C. health club. Kennedy 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 hanged herself on the grounds of her home in Bedford, Westchester County, New York.
- July 13, 2012 - Kerry Kennedy sideswiped a tractor trailer on Interstate 684 while under the influence of zolpidem, which Kennedy had mistaken for her daily thyroid medication. She was acquitted on all charges on February 28, 2014.
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- O'Dowd, Niall (September 18, 2011). "Talk of a Kennedy Curse Is Nonsense, Latest Death of Kara Revives Idle Chatter". IrishCentral. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- King, John (July 17, 1999). "Tragedy Has Repeatedly Stalked Kennedy Clan". CNN. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
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- "After 11 Years in Prison, Skakel Goes Free on Bail". The New York Times (New York). November 21, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Dunne, Dominick (March 1992). "The Verdict". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Goddard, Jacqui (September 17, 2011). "Kara Kennedy Dies Aged 51". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- "'I'm So Grateful I Have Those Memories': Joan Kennedy Remembers Last Summer with Daughter Kara Before She Died". The Daily Mail (London). September 21, 2011. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- "RFK Jr.'s Troubled Estranged Wife Found Dead in NY". Google News. Associated Press. May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- "Kerry Kennedy Says Seizure, not Drugs, Caused Driving Accident". Chicago Tribune. July 17, 2012.
- "Kerry Kennedy Found Not Guilty of Drugged Driving in New York". New York: WNBC-TV. February 28, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.